In 1949 a young man cracked. He had brought a machete and planned to cut his neighbours heads off, but because that took planning he had time to think about it and something inside him stopped him.
Then, on Labour Day he picked up a gun and went on a twenty minute walk down the street killing people that annoyed him over the years. Some others, a young boy, a man driving his car, we’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In the end thirteen people lay dead.
The police knew who had done it and made a very quick arrest.
Howard Unruh was a bookish introvert who nobody though of as a threat. What made him flip, the vandalism of a back gate.
This is the story of that day, and the decades that followed. Researched deeply in the community.
Told through the story of survivors and people from the neighbourhood.
I had never heard of Unruh until I picked this book up. The first thing I did was hit Google.
He is thought by many to be Americas first “Mass Shooter” the first to pick up weapons and go on a shooting spree.
So why had I never heard of him. I’m a true crime fan. You would have thought he would have cropped up in my reading, or I’d have seen a TV documentary about the killings.
I think that is what I enjoyed so much about this book. I was new to this crime. Ellen J Green has done a marvellous job of tying together accounts and information from people who were there on the day or who knew the perpetrator and, or, his victims.
Most poignantly the accounts of Raymond, a young boy who witnessed the shootings and how he was affected by them. But most of all Unruh’s mother, who was left living in the small community he had wrecked havoc in, and how she had to live with his actions.
What drove a former model soldier, who had served in the later part of WWII, a man known for his love of the Bible to become Americas first mass shooter.
He was diagnosed to have severe mental health issues, but up until the shooting there doesn’t seem to be much of a worry about him.
He spent the rest of his life in a Maximum Security Hospital.
Did he get away with something there, was he as badly affected by mental health issues as he was diagnosed with.
I’ll let you decide.
Print length: 311 pages. Publisher: Thread. Publishing date: April 28th 2022