2012 Year In Review: Sandy Hook And Aurora Top List Of Year's Worst Mass Shootings

  on
Candle light vigil for Newtown, Conn.
A moment of silence in recognition of the massacre in Sandy Hook, Conn., will take place today at 9:30 a.m., marking the time a week ago when Adam Lanza killed 26 people before committing suicide.

While 2012 saw a number of high points in the United States, including a presidential election and the legalization of gay marriage in some states, it was also a year filled with tragic shootings, that at times, plagued the very moral fiber of the country.

Ending the year on a most sour note, the horrific massacre of 26 children and staff at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school has ranked as the top news story of 2012, according to the Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors. With the initial round of balloting ended Dec. 13 – the day before the Sandy Hook shooting -- the original entry for mass shootings focused on the rampage at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, placing sixth in the poll; however, an updated poll now accounts for the Newtown shootings, placing it first in one of the closest results since the AP launched the poll in 1936.

Yet, as the year draws to a close, the Sandy Hook shooting only seems to bring back memories of all the horrific massacres that have taken place around the country in 2012. Here is the year in review of the worst mass shootings 0f 2012.

10. Empire State Building Shooting

On Friday, Aug. 24, Jeffrey Johnson, 58, a disgruntled former apparel designer, shot and killed a co-worker, and engaged in a gun battle with two officers in front of New York’s Empire State Building. Johnson was eventually shot and killed after police fired a total of 16 rounds in one of Manhattan's busiest neighborhoods. An investigation into the Empire State Building shooting later revealed that Johnson was laid off from his job as a designer of women's accessories at the Hazan Import company.

9. ECMC Shooting

On the morning of Wednesday June 13, Erie County Medical Center trauma surgeon, Timothy Jorden Jr., 49, shot and killed 33-year-old Jackie Wisniewski. Later identified as a clerk at the ECMC hospital, Wisniewski was believed to be Jorden's ex-girlfriend. While the hospital campus went into lockdown shortly after the shooting, Buffalo police, backed up by a New York State Police SWAT team, swarmed the grounds, fanning out to search for the shooter, who fled the scene. 

Jorden’s body was found two days later in thick brush near his Hamburg home. Local, state and federal authorities, including the U.S. Marshals and the FBI, had launched a manhunt for Jorden in the United States and Canada.

8. Oregon Mall Shooting

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, unleashed fury on the second floor of the Clackamas Town Center in Oregon, killing two people before taking his own life. Reports indicated that Roberts entered the Oregon mall wearing a hockey mask, black clothing, and carrying an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon with several magazines full of ammunition. He eventually walked down to the first floor of the mall and committed suicide.

7. New Jersey Pathmark Shooting

On Friday, Aug. 31, Terence Tyler, 23, a former Marine, shot to death two coworkers before killing himself at a New Jersey supermarket. Police said the shooting happened just before 4 a.m. Eastern time inside a Pathmark grocery store on Route 9 in Old Bridge, a town about 25 miles from New York City. Reports indicated that all of the victims were working the night shift at the Pathmark, with 12 other employees. Before carrying out the shooting, Tyler reportedly left the Old Bridge shopping plaza at about 4 a.m., and then returned to a Pathmark grocery store, having changed into camouflage clothing and armed himself with an AK-47 assault rifle. The suspect shot himself after shooting the two young adults. A total of 16 shots were fired.

6. Wisconsin Spa Shooting

On Sunday, Oct. 21, Radcliffe F. Haughton, a 45-year-old former Marine, stormed into the Azana Spa and Salon in Brookfield, carrying a .40 caliber handgun. He was reportedly looking for his wife, Zina Haughton, 42, who'd been granted a four-year restraining order two days earlier. Haughton opened fire inside the spa, killing three women, and, eventually himself. The gunman was found in a locked area, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

5. Sikh Temple Shooting

On Sunday, Aug.5, a mass shooting occurred at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Gunman Wade Michael Page, a suspected white supremacist, killed six people and wounded four others. As police officers arrived on the scene, Page engaged in a gun battle and was shot in the stomach by an officer before turning the gun on himself. The incident drew reactions from diverse personalities including U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. First Lady Michelle Obama visited the temple on Aug. 23.

4. Chardon High School Shooting

On Monday, Feb. 27, a shooting occurred at Chardon High School in Ohio, where the alleged shooter was identified as T.J. Lane. While early reports indicated that Lane, 17, had targeted a specific group of students, it was later found that the suspect chose the five victims at random. Local news outlets in the area reported four males and one female were injured in the incident. Three male shooting victims were later pronounced dead. Lane used a .22 caliber handgun in the shooting.

3. Trayvon Martin Shooting

The fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman occurred the night of Feb. 26, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, 28, was a neighborhood watch coordinator for the gated community where Martin was temporarily staying.

According to reports, Zimmerman was in his vehicle when he noticed Martin walking inside the community. Zimmerman called the Sanford Police Department to report Martin's behavior as suspicious, stating that Martin was "cutting in-between houses ... walking very leisurely for the [rainy] weather" and "looking at all the houses." While still on the phone with the police dispatcher, Zimmerman left his vehicle. After the phone call concluded, there was a violent encounter between Martin and Zimmerman, ending with Zimmerman fatally shooting Martin, once in the chest, at close range.

After police arrived onto the scene, Zimmerman told authorities that he had shot Martin in self-defense after an attack.

On April 11, after allegations of racist motivation for both the shooting and police conduct, along with intense media coverage that was sometimes inaccurate, the Special Prosecutor filed a charge of murder in the second degree against Zimmerman, who then turned himself in and was placed into custody. Zimmerman pleaded not guilty to the charge and is out on a $1 million bond while he awaits trial.

2. Aurora, Colorado Shooting ("Dark Knight Rises" Massacre)

On Friday, July 20, a mass shooting occurred inside of a Century movie theater in Aurora, Colo., during a midnight screening of 2012’s second-highest grossing movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.” According to reports, alleged gunman, James Holmes, entered the theater dressed in tactical clothing and then set off tear gas grenades before firing shots into the audience. Holmes allegedly killed 12 people and injured 58 others.

With a total of 71 people shot and injured, the incident was reported by mainstream media as having the most victims of any mass shooting in U.S. history. It was also the deadliest shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School in April 20, 1999.

1. Sandy Hook Shooting (Newtown, Connecticut)

The morning of Dec. 14 saw 2012’s worst shooting when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the village of Newtown, Conn. In addition to the massacre at the elementary school, Lanza shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Newtown home. After killing the students and staff members, he shot himself dead when first responders and police arrived at the scene. The Sandy Hook massacre is the second-deadliest shooting in U.S. history, after the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007.

Join the Discussion