Famous Last Words
Howard Unruh
Trenton, New Jersey
October 19, 2009

“I’d have killed a thousand if I had enough bullets.”

(These were his last public words, spoken in an interview to a psychologist.)

On September 16, 1949, Unruh took his Luger pistol and began a 12-minute leisurely stroll through the neighborhood while shooting randomly at those he came across. His original intent was retaliation against neighbors he believed had said unsavory things about him, but those he shot appear to have been chosen at random.

At the end of the spree, 13 were killed (including 3 children between 2 and 9) and 3 were wounded. His kill count would have been higher had he shown some urgency in his slaughter, but his pace allowed many would-be victims to seek shelter.

Unruh went back to his house where a standoff and shootout between 60 police officers ensued. During this time, a reporter found Unruh’s number in a phonebook and began to interview him, though this was interrupted when police used tear gas. He surrendered moments later, and during interrogation it was discovered Unruh had been shot in the thigh but had kept the injury hidden from police. He was taken to a hospital for treatment.

During trial, he was found to have paranoid schizophrenia and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital until his death in 2009.

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