Next week marks the 20th anniversary of the “deadliest firearms atrocity ever committed in the United Kingdom,” which killed 16 children and their teacher Gwen Mayor at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland, reported the Mirror. Head teacher Ron Taylor, 62, who was first to witness the aftermath of the school shooting, finally broke his silence to “describe the horrors.”
On the morning of March 13, 1996, it was reported that 43-year-old Thomas Hamilton of Stirling drove his white van five miles from his home to get to Dunblane Primary School, where he cut the telephone wires with a set of pliers. Shortly after entering the school’s gym with “four handguns and 743 rounds,” he opened fire at a class of 28 students, including Amy Hutchinson, who was 5-years-old at the time, and their PE teacher. Hutchinson stated that she “remembers my leg turning to jelly and falling to the floor and then dragging myself to the gym cupboard where there was other people.”
“I was very aware of the amount of blood everywhere and the crying and the pain that people were in. The adults that were in the PE cupboard were trying to hush me because they wouldn’t have known if he was still alive out in the gym hall or where he was going next.”
But unbeknownst to the shooting victims, the gunman had placed one of his handguns in his mouth and shot himself after firing 105 shots, which took three minutes, at the students, who were between the ages and 5 and 6, according to BBC News. The school shooter, who later died from his injuries, claimed the lives of 16 children and their teacher
However, Taylor stated that the aftermath “was unimaginably horrible to see children dying in front of you. I felt enormous guilt – more than a survivor’s guilt. It was my school, I felt violated.”
He said, “When I first burst into the gym that morning the sight was unimaginable. Hamilton was lying, still twitching. There was an incredible silence. The air was thick with smoke. And there was a group of children standing. The first thing we were able to do was to get them out of there.”
“I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was unimaginably horrible. To see children dying in front of you. Seeing the staff tending to the injured, seeing the bodies of those who had died. Just at that moment the enormity of the event hit me – that moment has never left me. Dunblane was a tragedy for everyone involved.”
After the Dunblane massacre, the head teacher was unable to return to the school for a year, because he stated that “people couldn’t understand why I felt so guilty after the event because there is no way any of us could have anticipated what happened. There is no way we could have adequately prepared for what happened. But I felt I should have been able to do more and that guilt lives with me.”
Taylor continued, “At the behest of police we had to go back in the gym to try and confirm the identities of the children who had died. This was particularly difficult for me because these were Primary One children and I didn’t know many of them.”
Although the school shooting occurred 20 years ago, the families of the victims remember the tragedy, including Isabel Wilson, whose daughter, Mhairi MacBeath, 5, was amongst the 16 children who were killed. She said she remembers several parents running towards the school, screaming that there was a gunman in the building.
At that moment, Wilson panicked, but there was nothing she could do, as the parents of the slain children were not allowed inside of the building. However, hours later, Wilson was notified that there was a shooting at Dunblane Primary School and that her daughter did not survive the attack.
The Dunblane Primary School shooting is believed to be unprovoked, but police officials stated that Hamilton had a suspicious past. In 1974, Hamilton was asked to leave his position as an assistant leader of his local Boy Scouts club after several reports of suspicious behavior. Sources say that Hamilton allegedly forced young boys to “engaged in perverted activities and paid them to keep quiet.”
He later tried to get “back into the organization” but was denied. Hamilton lived a reclusive lifestyle and was unable to gain close relationships with adults of both sexes, who described him as “deceitful, intolerant and suffering from delusions of grandeur.” It is unclear if his troubled past was the cause of the deadly shooting, but the family of the victims are still angry 20 years later.
Alison Ross stated that she will never know what it’s like to grow up with her sister Joanna, who was killed by Hamilton, and said that it is “a bit hard to accept.” She went on to say that her “first memory of being told was when I was about six or seven. I remember mum kind of sitting down and telling me this is what had happened. Because for so long I wasn’t sure who these pictures of this girl were in my living room. I thought it was me.”
She added that the Dunblane massacre is now “part of UK history and it must be remembered.”
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