The year 2012 has played host to numerous highly-publicized acts of violence. Though the number of human lives lost varies from account to account, a common thread of cruelty, desperation, and blatant disregard for human life can be found among all of this year’s most violent acts thus far.
Note: The Inquisitr is not making an arbitrary judgment call on the value, indeed the price, of individual human lives in this post. What follows are acts of violence perpetrated within the borders of the United States, or specifically regarding US interests. We understand that many human lives have been lost worldwide in 2012. The following list also does not reflect a ranking based on severity – rather, incidents have been placed in chronological order. The timeline is based on acts of violence ranging in extremity, and items placed on the list have been weighed as much by public reaction and perception as the senseless violence that they all share.
The shooting of Trayvon Martin(2/26/2012) – The Sanford, Florida shooting of Trayvon Martin has been so highly publicized that the names of victim Trayvon Martin and his accused shooter, George Zimmerman, have become household. Zimmerman, a 28-year-old said that he saw 17-year-old Martin acting suspiciously, and called the police to report him. He ultimately pulled his car over to confront the teen, and after a violent altercation (the details of which are still unknown) Zimmerman shot Martin at point-blank range in the chest, killing him. Zimmerman has since claimed self-defense, a claim possibly corroborated by injuries he had apparently suffered the night of the incident. Supporters of Martin and his family have turned out for protests and vigils, and several claims made by Zimmerman have been challenged in subsequent court proceedings. Some reports have claimed that Trayvon Martin had a troubled past, and had been in some trouble at school. It is still largely unknown what exactly happened, other than the death of Martin at the hands of Zimmerman, but the former’s death has spawned months of heated public debate, including critical discussions regarding “Stand Your Ground” laws in place in several states, gun control issues, and racial tensions within the US.
Chardon High School shooting(2/27/2012) – In the deadliest high school shooting in the US since 2005, shooter Thomas “T.J.” Lane used a .22 caliber handgun on his fellow students shortly after school began in Chardon, Ohio. Three students died within the two days following the incident. Two others were hospitalized: one with several serious injuries, and the other with a minor injury. A sixth student sustained a superficial wound. The suspect, Lane, had his juvenile records released to the press, showing a history of violence. His father, Thomas M. Lane Jr., also had a criminal record, including a one-year stint in jail for attempted murder. Westboro Baptist Church famously announced that they would picket the victims’ funerals, causing thousands more to show up to counter-protest the group.
Oikos University Massacre(4/2/2012) – Oikos University, a Korean Christian college in Oakland, California, hosted a tragic act of violence in early April when 43-year-old One L. Goh, a former student at the school, stood up in the middle of a nursing class and ordered classmates to line up against the wall. He reportedly shouted “Get in line … I’m going to kill you all!” according to a witness. He killed seven people execution-style, and wounded an additional three. The shooting marked the deadliest gun-related attack since 2007’s Virginia Tech massacre, and is the third-deadliest university shooting in US history.
Chicago, IL gangland shootings(6/2012 – 9/2012) – Chicago hasn’t just played host to a contentious teacher’s union strike this year. The city has been plagued by gang-related violence that rivals even Kabul, Afghanistan with respect to the loss of human life. Two teenage boys, ages 13 and 14, were among four people killed, and at least 30 others wounded in shootings during the month of June. In late August, gang-related shootings injured 19 people, with 13 of the victims wounded within the same 30-minute window. Then, in late September, at least six men were killed and 23 people wounded over the course of a single weekend. Crime in Chicago has increased from 2011, as the Windy City has played host to over 400 homicides in 2012, the worst number in 10 years.
Aurora, Colorado and The Dark Knight Rises massacre(7/20/2012) – A mass shooting occurred at the Century movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the night of the premiere of Christopher Nolan’sThe Dark KnightRises. Roughly 20 or 30-minutes into the film, a gunman dressed in tactical clothing set off tear gas grenades and opened fire on the packed theater’s audience with multiple firearms. The gunman killed 12 people and injured 58 others. The sole suspect is one James Holmes, who was arrested moments later outside of the theater. Media interest in Holmes following the attack has helped paint a portrait of the accused killer: A young graduate student whose personal life began to crumble, and who apparently displayed several warning signs leading up to the horrific attack. His behavior since his arrest has been labelled erratic, confusing, and sometimes violent.
Wisconsin Sikh Temple shooting (8/5/2012) – A mass shooting took place at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on August 5. A single gunman, white supremacist Wade Michael Page, shot several people in the temple, including a responding officer. He killed a total of six and wounded four others. After being shot in the stomach by another officer, Page turned his gun on himself, ending his own life. In the aftermath, President Barack Obama called the Sikh community “a part of our broader American family” and called for a collective “soul searching” to end the trend of violence in the states. The incident shocked the community, and several officials offered their condolences to the families of the victims. Candlelight vigils were held in both the US and India. Sikhism is primarily considered a peaceful religion, and there is some confusion between practicing Sikhs and practicing Muslims in some Western circles, which may partially account for the massacre.
College Station, Texas shooting(8/13/2012) – A violent incident near Texas A&M University saw unprecedented campus lock-down and communication through social media sites like Twitter. Three were killed (including the gunman), with early reports indicating that six others were injured. Brian Bachmann, the elected Police Constable for Precinct 1 in Brazos County, was killed at point-blank range and in cold blood by Thomas “Tres” Caffall. Bachmann was attempting to serve Caffall with an eviction notice. Both of Caffall’s parents were unsurprised by his actions, with his mother saying she knew it was her son immediately when she heard the reports, and his step-father calling him a “ticking time bomb” who was “crazy as hell.”
The incident arrived less than a week after the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting, and less than a month after the Aurora massacre, increasing media coverage of the violent act.
Empire State Building shooting(8/24/2012) – A gunman shot and killed a former co-worker outside of the Empire State Building in New York City in late August. The gunman was 58-year-old Jeffrey T. Johnson, who was shot dead by police officers after raising his weapon at them. His victim was 41-year-old Steven Ercolino, a salesman and colleague of Johnson’s, with whom he had a tumultuous professional relationship. The two had reportedly been engaged in numerous disputes and altercations before, with Johnson threatening Ercolino’s life at least once before, despite other co-workers describing the shooter as a friendly, outgoing man. Nine bystanders were injured during the incident, with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly confirming that those injured were accidental victims of indirect NYPD officer gunfire. None suffered life-threatening injuries.
West Indian Day parade in Brooklyn (9/3/2012) – An otherwise peaceful, jubilant, and colorful West Indian Day parade was marred by tragedy and violence, when two men were fatally stabbed in the neck after altercations. Two other individuals, a man and a woman, were shot, seemingly for no reason. Neither gunshot victim’s wounds were considered life-threatening. The West Indian Day parade has earned an unfortunate reputation for violence over the past two years. In 2011, 67 people were shot across the city over Labor Day weekend, with 13 ultimately dying. A police shootout in Crown Heights after the parade claimed the lives of two people, including an innocent bystander.
US Embassy in Libya and Ambassador Christopher Stevens(9/11/2012) – Unrest in the Middle East has seen an all-time high in 2012 with numerous protests and US embassy attacks in the area late in the year. At the US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, staffers were overwhelmed on September 11 by protestors and heavily armed gunmen, resulting in the deaths of four Americans, including US Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Though the attack was initially reported as a response to the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims, the US State Department later confirmed that the attack was believed to have been orchestrated by the terrorist group Al Qaeda. Though Stevens was believed to have died from smoke inhalation, and was nearly rescued by a group of sympathetic Libyans the night of the attack, other reports have suggested that the Ambassador was violently raped before he died, in a manner that reflected the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Though preliminary autopsy reports showed no signs of trauma on the Ambassador’s body, many questions about his death remain unanswered, and his body has been turned over to US authorities. An investigation is currently underway.
Though not an exhaustive list either domestically, or much less so, worldwide, these are the events considered by us to be the most violent in 2012. Taking into account the extent of the violence, as well as both public and media reaction, these are the incidents that affected all our lives the most this year proving once more the damaging rippling effect that violence and the loss of human life has on us all.
As 2012 comes to a close in the coming months, we can all look forward to 2013 and hope that the promise of a new year does not pay further tribute to our history of violence.
What do you think of our Top 10 Most Violent Acts of 2012 list? What did we miss? What did we not talk about enough? Sound off!