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The Lone Gunman 2

Updated on December 3, 2010

Politicians and Celebrities

The lone gunman does not restrict his activities to assassinating U.S. Presidents.  The lone gunman also pursues lesser politicians and celebrities.  The methods and motives are the same so there can be said to be no difference in the actions of the lone gunman against a president as as against a celebrity.

On August 9, 1910, William J. Gaynor, the mayor of New York was preparing to depart on a European holiday.  While standing on the deck of the ship Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse he was approached from behind by James Gallagher and shot in the head from a distance of fifteen cenitmetres (6 inches).

James Gallgher had been fire from his city and appeals to the mayor had been rebuffed.  As with most lone gunmen, Mr. Gallagher had a simple plan, was not afraid of being indentified or captured and had a clear motive.

 On June 14, 1949 Ruth Steinhagen shot and wounded baseball player Eddie Waitkus.  She became obsessed with the player when her brother took her to see a baseball game.  Her obsession ended in her staying in the same hotel as Waitkus' team and sending a message that she needed to see him.  When he arrived she produced a rifle and shot him once in the chest.  She then called the front desk to tell them what she had done.  She enjoyed the publicity she received from the event.  Although she used a rifle the rest of her actions were consistent with the behavior of the lone gunman.  It was a simple plan, she made no attempt to hide or escape and made plain the reasons for her crime.

On June 5, 1968, Robert Kennedy, the younger brother of John Kennedy was shot and killed while exiting from a speech he had given at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles.  His murderer was Jerusalem born Arab named Sirhan Sirhan.  As Kennedy passed through the kitchen his assailant pulled a gun, described by some as a small cap gun, and shot Kennedy once in the head. As the assailant was tackled he continued shooting, Kennedy was hit a total of four times, once from only three inches away, twice from six inches, and the last bullet only passing through his clothing.

Sirhan Sirhan adds one more typical killing for the lone dedicated amateur assassin.  He gets close to his victim, he disregards the possibility of capture, his weapon is clearly seen and he leaves plenty of evidence as to his motive.

On May 15, 1972 George Wallace was campaigning in Maryland.  As he shook hands with supporters, Arthur Bremer took his snub nosed .38 and fired five times at Wallace.  Four of the bullets found their mark but none was a killer.

Arthur Bremer is another lone dedicated amateur assassin.  His plan was simple, he was unafraid of capture, indeed it was necessary for him to gain notoriety, his weapon was visible, and he provided a clear motive for his actions.

On July 17, 1989 actress Rebecca Schaeffer was shot to death by Robert Bardo.  Bardo became obsessed with Schaeffer when he saw her in the TV series My Sister Sam.  When he haw her play a completely different character in a movie he felt betrayed.  He hired a detective agency to find her home address.  Then he took a .357 magnum loaded with hollow nosed bullets and assaulted the actress.

He returned to his home town of Tucson where he turned himself in.  While his act was not committed in public where he could be caught, he used a simple plan and then turned himself in. It is rare that the lone dedicated amateur assassin seeks to escape.  To get away from the murder scene perhaps, but not to escape the crime and the notoriety that can only come with being identified as the assailant.

On December 8,1980 John Lennon was shot five times in the back by Mark David Chapman with a .38 revolver loaded with hollow point bullets.  After committing his crime Mr. Chapman sat down on the ground and began reading the novel The Catcher in the Rye.

David Chapman followed the typical lone gunman's method.  A simple plan, get close to the victim, don't worry about getting caught, and leave lots of evidence as to motive.  He would confess to police that he killed John Lennon "to be somebody".

On November 24, 1963 Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald the accused killer of President Kennedy.  Oswald was being transferred to a different holding facility; while walking under escort in the basement of the police station he shot by Jack Ruby.  Ruby gave more than one reason for shooting Oswald, but his action showed a simple plan, a willingness to risk himself and a willingness to make known his reasons for committing the crime.

So we come full circle.  The alleged lone gunman whose behavior is anomalous to that of the other lone gunmen that we have examined is murdered by a lone gunman who acts like a lone gunman.  It has been suggested that Oswald was a celebrity killer rather than a presidential assassin, but as we have seen, the lone gunman whether targeting a president or a celebrity is consistent in their behavior, and Lee Harvey Oswald's alleged actions do not match those of the lone gunman either as an assassin or as a celebrity killer.


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    • profile image

      A fisherman 7 years ago

      Perhaps something that has not been taken into consideration is the mental state of the accused.

    • barrydan profile image

      barrydan 7 years ago from Calgary, Alberta, Canada

      It's an interesting consideration, however, it has been shown that no one can be hypnotized into an unwilling action. The behavioral manipulation shown in the movies The Manchurian Candidate go far beyond simple hypnosis. And while I'm aware of the conspiracy theory linked to the murder of RFK, the murder at least appears as the action of a lone gunman. If Sirhan Sirhan was hypnotized, his controller at least knew the hallmarks of the lone gunman.

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 7 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      I don't doubt that many of the lone asassinations listed are legitimite lone gunmen.However there is the possibility that Sirhan Sirhan and a few other lone gunmen that have shot students at colleges were subjected to hypnosis which can be used to control the subconscious mind like in the movie the manchurian Cadidate.