Thomas Hamilton, drove to the Dunblane Primary School near Stirling, in Scotland. Armed with four handguns he entered the school gymnasium and opened fire on a class of twenty-eight year one students, mostly between 5 and 6 years of age.
In the next 4 minutes he murdered 16 children and one teacher before killing himself with a gunshot to the mouth. It was one of the deadliest mass murders in the history of the United Kingdom, and produced a wave of revulsion and outrage across the world.
43 year-old Hamilton had a troubled history, particularly from his activities as a Scoutmaster and director of youth clubs in the area and was known to police. Complaints had been made about his behaviour with young boys and this had led to a withdrawal of his Scout Warrant, with the County Commissioner remarking that he was “suspicious of his moral intentions towards boys”. Hamilton denied the accusations and claimed that this action resulted in the failure of his small business, as word got about in the local community.
He appeared to become increasingly resentful, and wrote letters of complaint to the local Member of Parliament and the Queen, claiming persecution by the local police and the Scout movement.
After the tragedy firearm restrictions were introduced across much of Britain and school security was ramped up, particularly for primary schools. At Dunblane Primary School itself the gymnasium was demolished and replaced with a memorial garden.
Another footnote to the shooting later emerged when one of the students present at the school that day turned out to be a world champion tennis player – Andy Murray. He was 9 years old at the time and in a different class to the one attacked by Hamilton.
Image: Memorial statue ‘Friends and Family’ for the loved ones lost in the Dunblane Tragedy, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.