Violence Policy Center


IndexOnline NewsPress ReleasesFact SheetsPublicationsLinksHomeAbout VPC
Looking for something?

Where'd They Get Their Guns?

An Analysis of the Firearms Used in High-Profile Shootings, 1963 to 2001

Date: October 1, 1997

Location: Pearl High School, Pearl, Mississippi

Alleged Shooter: Luke Woodham

People Killed: Three

People Injured: Seven

Firearm(s): .30-30 rifle


Woodham killed his mother with a kitchen knife, then drove to school. Wearing a long black coat to conceal the rifle, Woodham entered Pearl High School, then opened fire on his ex-girlfriend. After shooting her, he continued firing in the hallway. After shooting nine people, Woodham exited the building and attempted to leave school grounds but was stopped by the assistant principal, who ran Woodham's car off the road and held him until police arrived. In 1998 Woodham was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

How Firearm(s) Acquired

Woodham took the rifle from his older brother who owned it legally.


  1. NBC Nightly News, "Mississippi Teen Kills Mother at Home and Then Goes to School and Kills Ex-Girlfriend and Another Girl Over Relationship Problems," NBC News Transcripts, 1 October 1997.
  2. Thomas B. Edsall, "Mississippi Boy Held in School Killing Spree; Teenager is Also Accused in Mother's Stabbing Death," The Washington Post, 2 October 1997, sec. A, p. 3.
  3. C. Ray Hall, "4 Schools, 5 Shooters, 59 Victims; Shootings Muddle the Gun Debate," Louisville Courier-Journal, 9 December 1998, sec. A, p. 10.

Back to Table of Contents




 All contents � 2001 Violence Policy Center


The Violence Policy Center is a national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals. The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related death and injury.