California · School Violence

Man shoots at playground, kills self

February 24, 1984
Los Angeles, California
Tyrone Mitchell shoots at a nearby elementary school before killing himself

Mitchell’s mental state had been compromised by recent events, including his childhood home being demolished to make way for the 49th Street Elementary School. Additionally, he and his family had been part of the People’s Temple run by Jim Jones; Mitchell’s parents, four sisters, and a brother died during the Jonestown mass suicide in 1977, which his fiancé said caused Mitchell to suffer a nervous breakdown.

On February 24, 1984, Mitchell positioned himself in his home, which was across the street from the 49th Street Elementary School, and shot at the school as children were playing on the playground. He shot 18 rounds from 2 separate shot guns and 39 rounds from an AR-15. Two people were killed (a 10-year-old student and a 24-year-old immigrant who had been walking by the scene), and 12 injured. Of those injured, 11 were children and one was the playground supervisor.

Police attempted to talk Mitchell into surrendering, then used tear gas to force him out. When the SWAT team forced their way into the house, Mitchell was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head from a 12-gauge double-barreled shotgun.

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