The Deadliest Events in US History

The Deadliest Events in US History

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It’s a grim but necessary calculation, counting those Americans who have died in service to their country, as targets of terrorist attacks, amid natural disasters or as victims of pandemic disease. Here are major events from history that have inflicted a devastating toll on American lives.

The Attack on Pearl Harbor: 2,390

In the early dawn hours of December 7, 1941, a swarm of nearly 90 Japanese aircraft converged on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Hawaii. The hours-long surprise attack destroyed several large American battleships still anchored in the harbor and killed 2,390 U.S. servicemen and civilians.

Nearly half of the American deaths were aboard the USS Arizona, which exploded into flames and sank after taking direct hits from the Japanese bombers. The “unprovoked and dastardly attack,” in the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, drew a reluctant United States into WWII.

READ MORE: Pearl Harbor: Photos and Facts From the Infamous Attack

The September 11th Terrorist Attacks: 2,974

Nothing about the clear blue skies on the morning of September 11, 2001 hinted that America was about to be the victim of the deadliest foreign assault ever on U.S. soil. Then at 8:46 am, the first hijacked commercial airliner slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. As news cameras were fixed on the plume of black smoke pouring from the crippled North Tower, a second plane crashed into the South Tower with a terrific explosion. Next came the attack on the Pentagon followed by the heroic downing of the hijacked Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

All told, 2,974 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which President George W. Bush called “evil, despicable acts of terror” and “acts of mass murder.” In the decades since, nearly 4,000 firemen and first responders have died from cancers and other 9/11-related medical conditions.

READ MORE: 9/11 Timeline

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire: 3,000

At the turn of the 20th century, San Francisco was a Western boom town with a population of 400,000, many of them crowded into hastily constructed wood and brick tenements in the city’s poorer South of Market district. At 5:13 am on April 18, 1906, Northern California was jolted awake by a massive earthquake that ruptured 296 miles of the San Andreas fault.

The violent shaking, which lasted an agonizing 45 to 60 seconds, toppled buildings across San Francisco, including City Hall, which was reduced to a skeleton wearing a domed hat. But even deadlier than the earthquake and its aftershocks were the fires that tore through the overcrowded tenements and burned for four days. An estimated 3,000 people died in the disaster, which leveled 500 city blocks and left more than 200,000 San Francisco residents homeless.

READ MORE: The Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906

The 1900 Galveston Hurricane: 8,000

WATCH: Deadliest Hurricanes in U.S. History

The hurricane that battered the island city of Galveston, Texas with 150-mph winds and drowned it with 15-foot storm surges remains the deadliest natural disaster in American history. An estimated 8,000 men, women and children were killed during the Category 4 storm, which lifted thousands of houses off their moorings and smashed them to pieces on September 8 and 9, 1900.

The howling winds tore off roof shingles and transformed them into flying knives. Nuns at the St. Mary’s Orphans Asylum lashed themselves to the children in desperation, only to be swept out to sea when the walls collapsed. Galveston, which had been one of Texas’s wealthiest and most modern cities, was reduced to rubble and the bodies of countless victims continued to wash ashore for weeks.

READ MORE: How the Galveston Hurricane Became the Worst US Natural Disaster

The Korean War: 36,914

Dubbed “The Forgotten War,” the Korean War was a major conflagration between armed nuclear powers that ultimately cost the lives of 36,914 U.S. servicemen. The Korean War was the first test of the United Nations, which sent in troops to defend South Korea after a June 25, 1950 invasion by Communist North Korea backed by China and the Soviet Union. Nearly 2 million American troops were deployed during three years of fighting, which ended in a bloody stalemate, with neither side gaining or losing their pre-war territory divided at the 38th parallel.

While no atomic weapons were used, massive bombing campaigns (including napalm) killed an estimated 2 million civilians in North Korea alone. “[W]e eventually burned down every town in North Korea... and some in South Korea, too,” said retired U.S. Air Force General Curtis LeMay. “We even burned down [the South Korean city of] Pusan—an accident, but we burned it down anyway.”

READ MORE: The Most Harrowing Battle of the Korean War

The Vietnam War: 58,220

WATCH: Tet Offensive Reshapes the Vietnam War

America’s long and unpopular war with Communist North Vietnam began as a targeted military intervention and devolved into a decade-long war of attrition. As antiwar protestors took to the streets of America burning draft cards, millions of young men were shipped out to fight in the jungles and rice paddies of Southeast Asia against an unflagging enemy.

A total of 58,220 servicemen gave their lives in the Vietnam War. The worst and bloodiest fighting spanned 1967 to 1969, when more than 40,000 American soldiers were killed in the months and years surrounding the Tet Offensive. The United States ultimately withdrew from Southeast Asia, ceding control of Vietnam to the communists.

“Today, America can regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam. But it cannot be achieved by refighting a war that is finished as far as America is concerned,” said President Gerald Ford in 1975. “We, of course, are saddened indeed by the events in Indochina. But these events, tragic as they are, portend neither the end of the world nor of America’s leadership in the world.”

READ MORE: 6 Events That Laid the Groundwork for the Vietnam War

World War I: 116,516

Europe slid into war in 1914, but the United States, under President Woodrow Wilson, vowed to remain neutral in the foreign conflict. But after German torpedoes sank the passenger ship Lusitania in 1915, killing 120 Americans, public sentiment began to shift. The U.S. declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, and deployed hundreds of thousands of conscripted young men to the trench-scarred battlefields of Europe to face German bullets and bayonets, tank artillery, poison gas and disease.

A sobering total of 116,516 Americans died in “the war to end all wars,” which concluded with an Armistice declaring Allied victory at exactly 11 am on November 11, 1918. “If the war had kept up a few hours longer, there wouldn’t be many of us left to tell about it,” wrote U.S. serviceman Harry Frieman in his journal entry for that fateful day.

READ MORE: The Last Official Death of WWI Was a Man Who Sought Redemption

World War II: 405,400

The bitter terms of Germany’s surrender in World War I crippled the German economy and bred both contempt for the Allied powers and antisemitic conspiracies of a Jewish/communist plot to destroy Germany from within. Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist (Nazi) party rode to power in 1933 and put plans in motion to establish an “Aryan” German empire.

The United States, as it did during World War I, held back as England, France and other nations declared war on Hitler. But after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. declared war on both Japan and Germany, and joined the Allies in the heroic beach invasion at Normandy, in which more than 4,400 Allied troops were killed in a span of days. At the Battle of Okinawa, the deadliest single battle for the United States, more than 12,500 American troops lost their lives on the rain-soaked rock. In total, 405,400 U.S. servicemen died in World War II, the deadliest American war waged on foreign soil.

WATCH: World War II in HD on HISTORY Vault

The COVID-19 Pandemic: 534,000

In early 2020, the first reports circulated of a deadly and contagious new respiratory disease centered in Wuhan, China. The novel strain of coronavirus claimed its first American victims in February and COVID-19, as the disease became known, erupted into a full-blown public health crisis by March, triggering widespread shutdowns of U.S. schools and businesses, and stay-at-home orders in panicked states nationwide.

New York was the first to suffer an explosion of infections and deaths, registering more than 200,000 positive cases and at least 14,000 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the first three months of the pandemic. As public health restrictions were relaxed over the summer, the virus spread to new hotspots and steadily claimed more and more lives, reaching daily death totals in excess of the 9/11 attacks by late fall.

As of June 1, 2021, after rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, the confirmed COVID-19 death toll reached more than 594,000.

READ MORE: Pandemics

The 1918 Flu Pandemic: 675,000

WATCH: The 1918 Flu Was Deadlier Than WWI

The 1918 flu claimed an unfathomable 50 to 100 million victims worldwide, including an estimated 675,000 Americans. Wrongfully labeled the “Spanish flu,” the first confirmed case of this virulent strain of influenza was actually a U.S. Army cook stationed in Kansas in March of 1918. Spring fatalities from the 1918 flu were similar to the seasonal flu, but after the virus followed troop deployments overseas during WWI, it resurged in the fall with deadly vengeance. October of 1918 was the worst single month of the pandemic, claiming almost 200,000 American lives.

Unlike the seasonal flu, which is most dangerous to the very old and very young, the 1918 strain cut down otherwise healthy men and women in the prime of life. Movie theaters and social gatherings were shut down to stem the spread of the virus, and face masks were mandatory in places like San Francisco, but without a vaccine the virus was left to run its deadly course by mid-1919.

READ MORE: Why the Second Wave of the 1918 Flu Was So Deadly

The HIV/AIDS Epidemic: 700,000

In 1981, doctors began reporting mysterious cases of rare types of pneumonia and cancers among predominately gay men in New York and California. The condition, which was later found in blood transfusion recipients and intravenous drug users, was given a name by the CDC in 1982: acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS.

Researchers soon identified the virus responsible for AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus or HIV), but doctors struggled to treat the crippling symptoms of the disease, which included rapid weight loss, painful sores and susceptibility to lethal cases of pneumonia. At its peak in 1995, the AIDS epidemic claimed more than 50,000 American lives each year.

Thanks to safe sex campaigns and the advent of powerful antiretroviral therapies, HIV infections and AIDS deaths plummeted in the late 1990s, but AIDS-related deaths in the United States have held steady at between 10,000 and 15,000 a year. It’s believed that roughly 700,000 Americans have died during the more than 30-year span of the AIDS epidemic.

READ MORE: How AIDS Remained an Unspoken—But Deadly—Epidemic

The US Civil War: 750,000 (Estimated)

The awful death toll of the Civil War may never fully be known. For more than a century, the number was enshrined at 618,222 fatalities: 360,222 from the Union North and 258,000 from the Confederate South. But in recent decades, historians raised the number to an estimated 750,000 deaths, mostly blamed on the under-counting of Confederate casualties.

That higher figure, if it stands, represents 2.5 percent of the total U.S. population in the 1860s. If a similar war were fought today, it would claim more than 7 million American lives. The death and suffering inflicted by the Civil War is unequaled in U.S. military history.

READ MORE: 10 Facts About the Civil War

Other historical events omitted from the chart

The list doesn&rsquot provide an accurate list of the top eight deadliest days in American history.

Perhaps the most notable omission from the list is also the most directly analogous to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 1918 flu pandemic ravaged the United States between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 1918, killing an estimated 381,019 people in those four months alone. That&rsquos an average of around 3,123 people per day.

Other notable mass fatality events left out of the chart include:

  • The Battle of Gettysburg, where an estimated 10,000 soldiers were either mortally wounded or killed over three days of fighting.
  • The San Francisco earthquake of 1906, which killed 3,400 people according to an official fatality count conducted by archivist Gladys Hansen.
  • The San Ciriaco hurricane, which killed 3,369 people in Puerto Rico on Aug. 8, 1899.
  • The Lake Okeechobee hurricane, which killed an estimated 2,500-3,000 people on Sept. 16, 1928.

Liz Skilton, an associate professor of history at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, who specializes in natural disasters, disapproved of the way the image compared different types of disastrous events by placing them side by side.

"Different types of disasters rarely ever can be compared directly as there are different sets of hazards and reactions to these hazards that influence the outcome of events," she said. "This is not to say disasters cannot be compared at all, it just means that making direct comparisons between them in an oversimplified way is damaging to our understanding of their impact and could even harm our ability to react to these incidents appropriately."

All that said, the numbers that the chart does rely on are generally accurate.

The Battle of Antietam resulted in about 3,600 deaths, and the attack on Pearl Harbor resulted in about 2,400 deaths according to the National Park Service. The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 killed an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 people, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The 9/11 attacks killed an estimated 3,000 people according to the 9/11 Commission Report.

Many of the entries in this section are currently for total casualties rather than deaths. Until this notice is removed, check the individual links to see what the figure represents.

This section lists bombing campaigns in which at least 1,000 individuals may have been killed.

World War II Edit

  • 129,000–226,000: Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by the United States.
  • Over 130,000: American air forces' firebombings of Tokyo (1944–1945). Operation Meetinghouse, on the night of 9–10 March 1945, is the single most destructive bombing raid in human history. [1] Of central Tokyo 16 square miles (41 km 2 10,000 acres) were destroyed, leaving an estimated 100,000 civilians dead and over one million homeless.
  • 42,600: Allied air force bombing of Hamburg (Operation Gomorrah) during the period 24 July 1943 and 31 July 1943 [2]
  • 22,700 [3] –25,000: [4] Allied airforce bombing of Dresden during the period 7 October 1944 to 7 April 1945 [5]
  • Minimum 20,000: Allied airforce bombing of Berlin in 363 separate raids that took place during the period 7 June 1940 until 25 March 1944
  • Minimum 20,000: German Luftwaffebombing of London during the Blitz 7 September 1940 to 10 May 1941 [6]
  • Around 18,000: Royal Air Force bombing of Pforzheim on 23 February 1945
  • Minimum 20,000 (to over 40,000): The U.S. Firebombing of Wuhan on 18 December 1944 [7]
  • Over 30,000 (10,000+ deaths): The Bombing of Chongqing (1938–1943) part of the War of Resistance-World War II

Post-World War II Edit

  • 40,000–150,000: U.S. bombing campaign of Cambodia (categorized as Operation Menu and Operation Freedom Deal) from 18 March 1969 to 15 August 1973
  • 1,400: Operation Linebacker II 'Christmas bombing' (Vietnam), 1972
  • 428 to 5,700: NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, 1999

This section lists individual air campaigns in which at least 500 individuals may have been killed.

World War II Edit

  • 100,000: Bombing of Tokyo (Operation Meetinghouse) on March 10, 1945 by the USAAF [8]
  • 70,000–80,000: Atomic bombing of Hiroshima by the USAAF, (Japan, 1945)
  • 35,000–40,000: Atomic bombing of Nagasaki by the USAAF, (Japan, 1945)
  • 17,000: Bombing of Pforzheim by Allies (Germany, February 23, 1945) [9]
  • 7,500–8,500: RAF fighter-bomber attacks on SS Cap Arcona and SS Thielbek, (Germany, 1945)
  • 2,300–17,000: Operation Punishment: Bombing of Belgrade by Nazi Germany (Yugoslavia, 1941)
  • 2,000–5,000: Bombing of Le Havre by Allied forces (France, 1944)
  • 1,500–4,000: Bombing of Caen by Allied forces (France, 1944)
  • 2,500: Bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy (United States, 1941)
  • 1,200: Allied bombing of Belgrade (Yugoslavia, 1944)
  • 800–900: Bombing of Rotterdam by Germany (Netherlands, May 14, 1940)
  • 800: Bombing of Nijmegen by the USAAF (Netherlands, February 22, 1944)
  • 511: Bombing of The Hague by the RAF (Netherlands, March 3, 1945)

Other Edit

This section lists the ships which were sunk as well as their fatalities in relations to war, whether against enemy, friendly, or neutral ships.

Prior to World War I Edit

Estimate of death toll Name Country Ship type Principal casualties Where sunk Date
1,300–1,900 Sultana United States Transport steamboat U.S. POWs formerly held by the Confederate army Mississippi River, near Memphis April 27, 1865 [10]
900 HMS Victory Great Britain 2nd-rate Crew English Channel [11] October 3, 1744
882–949 Soleil Royal France 1st-rate Crew English Channel June 3, 1692
838 HMS St George United Kingdom 1st-rate Crew North Sea December 24, 1811
800+ Kronan Sweden 1st-rate Crew Baltic Sea June 1, 1676
800+ HMS Royal George Great Britain 1st-rate Crew Spithead August 29, 1782
800 HMS Association Great Britain 2nd-rate Crew Isles of Scilly October 22, 1707
699 HMS Ramilles Great Britain 3rd-rate Crew Bolt Head February 15, 1760
673 HMS Queen Charlotte Great Britain 1st-rate Crew Livorno March 17, 1800
566 General Lyon United States Transport Discharged U.S. soldiers, Confederate POWs Cape Hatteras March 31, 1865
600 HMS Hero United Kingdom 3rd-rate Crew Wadden Sea December 28, 1811
555 HMS Defence United Kingdom 3rd-rate Crew North Sea December 24, 1811
380 Mary Rose England Carrack Soldiers, crew The Solent July 19, 1545
372 Arniston United Kingdom East Indiaman Soldiers, crew and their families Cape Agulhas May 30, 1815

World War I Edit

The loss of two British cruisers to a German naval squadron at the Battle of Coronel on 1 November 1914 was followed by the Battle of the Falkland Islands on 8 December where most of the German force was destroyed. The Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916 was the largest naval battle during World War I and resulted in the loss of three British battlecruisers and three armored cruisers.

Estimate of death toll Name Country Ship type Principal casualties Where sunk Date
1,926 Principe Umberto Italy Troopship Crew, troops Adriatic Sea June 8, 1916
1,450 HMS Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy United Kingdom Armored cruisers Crew North Sea, near the Netherlands September 22, 1914
1,255 HMS Queen Mary United Kingdom Battlecruiser Crew North Sea May 31, 1916
1,198 RMS Lusitania United Kingdom Ocean liner Crew, civilians Celtic Sea May 7, 1915
1,015 HMS Invincible United Kingdom Battlecruiser Crew North Sea May 31, 1916
1,013 HMS Indefatigable United Kingdom Battlecruiser Crew North sea May 31, 1916
903 HMS Defence United Kingdom Armored cruiser Crew North Sea May 31, 1916
919 [12] HMS Good Hope United Kingdom Armored cruiser Crew Off of Coronel, Chile November 1, 1914
843 HMS Vanguard United Kingdom Battleship Crew Scapa Flow, Scotland July 19, 1917
839 SMS Pommern Germany Pre-dreadnought battleship Crew North Sea June 1, 1916
782 SMS Blücher Germany Armored cruiser Crew Dogger Bank January 24, 1915
860 [13] SMS Scharnhorst Germany Armored cruiser Crew Falkland Islands December 8, 1914
737 HMS Hampshire United Kingdom Armored cruiser Crew, including Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener Orkney May 28, 1916
735 [12] HMS Monmouth United Kingdom Armored cruiser Crew Off of Coronel, Chile November 1, 1914
738 HMS Bulwark United Kingdom Battleship Crew Sheerness November 26, 1914
857 HMS Black Prince United Kingdom Armored cruiser Crew North Sea May 31, 1916
684 Léon Gambetta France Armored cruiser Crew Cephalonia April 29, 1915
646 SS Mendi United Kingdom Troopship Troops English Channel Feb 21, 1917
650 Bouvet France Pre-dreadnought battleship Crew Dardanelles March 18, 1915
501 RMS Leinster United Kingdom Mail ship Military personnel Irish Sea October 10, 1918
598 [13] SMS Gneisenau Germany Armored cruiser Crew Falkland Islands December 8, 1914
570 HMS Goliath United Kingdom Battleship Crew Dardanelles May 13, 1915
524 HMS Hawke United Kingdom Cruiser Crew North Sea October 15, 1914

Post-World War I Edit

Estimate of death toll Name Country Ship type Principal casualties Where sunk Date
3 USS Panay (PR-5) United States River gunboat Crew Yangtze River December 12, 1937

World War II Edit

Estimate of death toll Name Country Ship type Principal casualties Where sunk Date
9,000 [14] Wilhelm Gustloff Germany Cruise ship German refugees from German-occupied Poland Baltic Sea January 30, 1945
6,000–6,700 [15] Goya Germany Troopship Wounded, refugees Baltic Sea April 16, 1945
5,000–7,000 [16] Armenia Soviet Union Hospital ship Wounded, refugees Black Sea November 7, 1941
5,000–7,000 [17] Cap Arcona Germany Prison ship Concentration camp prisoners Baltic Sea May 3, 1945
5,620 [18] Junyō Maru Japan Hell ship Japanese laborers and Allied POWs Indian Ocean September 18, 1944
5,400 [19] Toyama Maru Japan Troopship Troops Sea of Japan June 29, 1944
4,998 [20] Ryusei Maru Japan Troopship Troops Bali Sea February 25, 1944
4,755 [21] Tamatsu Maru Japan Troopship Troops Off Luzon August 19, 1944
3,900 [22] –5,000 [23] [ self-published source? ] Totila Germany Cargo ship Troops Crimean Peninsula May 10, 1944
4,074 [24] Oria Germany Troopship Italian POWs Cape Sounion February 12, 1944
3,850 [25] Orion Germany Auxiliary cruiser Refugees Baltic Sea May 4, 1945
3,000–5,800 [26]
HMT Lancastria United Kingdom Troopship Troops, refugees Bay of Biscay June 17, 1940
2,000–4,000 Teja Germany Cargo ship Troops Crimean Peninsula May 10, 1944
2,000–5,400 [27] Ural Maru Japan Troopship Wounded, troops South China Sea September 27, 1944
3,536 [28] Mayasan Maru Japan Troopship Troops East China Sea August 17, 1944
3,000–4,000 [29] General von Steuben Germany Passenger ship Wounded, refugees Baltic Sea February 10, 1945
3,219 [30] Nikkin Maru Japan Troopship Troops Yellow Sea June 30, 1944
3,055 [31] [32] –3,063 [33] Yamato Japan Battleship Crew Sea of Japan April 7, 1945
3,000 [34] Tango Maru Japan Hell ship Javanese laborers and Allied POWs Bali Sea February 25, 1944
2,765. [35] Lima Maru Japan Troopship Troops southeast of the Gotō Islands February 8, 1944
2,750 [36] Thielbek Germany Prison ship Concentration camp prisoners Baltic Sea May 3, 1945
2,750 [37] Lenin Soviet Union Passenger ship Passengers, troops Black Sea July 27, 1941
2,700 [ citation needed ] Moero Germany Hospital ship Soldiers and civilians from Estonia Baltic Sea September 22, 1944
2,670 [38] Petrella Germany Cargo liner Italian POWs Suda Bay, Crete February 8, 1944
2,665 [39] Teia Maru Japan Troopship Troops Off of Luzon August 18, 1944
2,586 [22] Yoshida Maru No. 1 Japan Troopship Troops Off of Luzon April 26, 1944
2,571 [40] Rigel Norway Cargo ship Troops, Soviet POWs Off Norway November 27, 1944
2,475 [22] Sakito Maru Japan Troopship Troops 625 miles east of Taiwan March 1, 1944
2,300 [41] Akitsu Maru Japan Escort aircraft carrier Troops Manila Bay November 15, 1944
2,134 [42] Hawaii Maru Japan Troopship Troops East China Sea December 2, 1944
2114 [43] Edogawa Maru Japan Troopship Troops Yellow sea [44] November 18, 1944
2,100+ [45] Bismarck Germany Battleship Crew Atlantic Ocean May 27, 1941
2,098 [46] Sinfra Germany Cargo ship Italian POWs Suda Bay, Crete October 20, 1943
2,035 [47] Kamakura Maru Japan Troopship Soldiers and civilians Philippines Sea April 28, 1943
2,003 [48] Awa Maru Japan Hospital ship [49] Civilians Taiwan Straits April 1, 1945
2,000 [50] Dainichi Maru Japan Hell ship, troopship Troops Philippines Sea October 8, 1943
2,000 [51] Salzburg Germany Cargo liner Russian POWs Black Sea October 1, 1942
2,000 Iosif Stalin Soviet Union Passenger ship Troops, crew Baltic Sea December 3, 1941
1,932 [52] Scharnhorst Germany Battleship Crew Arctic Ocean December 26, 1943
1,796 [53] Gaetano Donizetti Germany Cargo ship Italian POWs Aegean Sea September 23, 1943
1,777 [54] Arisan Maru Japan Hell ship U.S. POWs China Sea October 24, 1944
1,747 [55] Arabia Maru Japan Troopship Troops South China Sea October 18, 1944
1,700 [56] Takahito Maru Japan Hospital ship Wounded, civilians Taiwan Strait March 19, 1943
1,658 [57] RMS Laconia United Kingdom Armed merchant cruiser Italian POWs, civilians South Atlantic September 12, 1942
660 [58] –1,650 [59] Taihō Japan Aircraft carrier Crew Philippine Sea Mar 7, 1944
1,636 [60] Yamashiro Japan Battleship Crew Surigao Strait October 25, 1944
1,540 [61] Koshu Maru Japan Hell ship Passengers, Allied POWs Indonesia August 4, 1944
1,529 [62] Tsushima Maru Japan Passenger ship Schoolchildren, civilians Sea of Japan August 22, 1944
1,470 [63] Chiyoda Japan Light aircraft carrier Crew Philippines Sea October 25, 1944
1,450 [64] Maebashi Maru Japan Troopship Troops Pacific Ocean September 30, 1943
1,435 [65] Shinano Japan Aircraft carrier Crew Pacific Ocean November 29, 1944
1,430 [66] Jinyo Maru Japan Cargo ship Troops South China Sea December 7, 1944
1,428 [67] Shiranesan Maru (I) Japan Troopship Troops South China Sea October 18, 1944
1,415 [68] HMS Hood United Kingdom Battlecruiser Crew Denmark Strait May 24, 1941
1,400 [69] Fusō Japan Battleship Crew Surigao Strait October 25, 1944
1,400 [70] Chikuma Japan Heavy cruiser Crew Philippine Sea October 25, 1944
1,400 [71] Tatsuta Maru Japan Troopship Troops Sea of Japan February 9, 1943
1,384 [72] Fuso Maru Japan Troopship Troops South China Sea July 31, 1944
1,300 [73] Mario Roselli Germany Cargo ship Italian POWs Corfu Bay October 10, 1943
1,291 [74] Conte Rosso Italy Troopship Troops Mediterranean Sea May 24, 1941
1.288 [75] Yasukuni Maru Japan Troopship Technical personnel Philippines Sea January 31, 1944
1,279 [76] Khedive Ismail Egypt Troopship Troops Indian Ocean February 12, 1944
1,263 [77] Shōkaku Japan Aircraft carrier Crew Philippine Sea June 19, 1944
1,253 [78] Roma Italy Battleship Crew Mediterranean September 8, 1943
1,250 [79] Kongō Japan Battleship Crew Formosa Strait November 21, 1944
1,243 [80] Chuyo Japan Aircraft carrier Crew Izu Islands December 4, 1943
1,240 [81] Unryū Japan Escort aircraft carrier Crew East China Sea December 19, 1944
1,207 [82] HMS Glorious United Kingdom Aircraft carrier Crew Norwegian Sea June 8, 1940
1,177 USS Arizona (BB-39) United States Battleship Crew Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941
1,159 [83] Rakuyo Maru Japan Hell ship British and Australian POWs South China Sea September 12, 1944
1,138 [84] Rohna United Kingdom Troopship U.S. troops, crew Mediterranean November 26, 1943
1,124 [85] Montevideo Maru Japan Hell ship Australian POWs, civilians Philippine Sea? July 1, 1942
1,121 [86] Mutsu Japan Battleship Crew, flying cadets Hashirajima (Japan) June 8, 1943
1,118 [87] Hakozaki Maru Japan Troopship Troops Yellow Sea March 19, 1945
1,023 [88] Musashi Japan Battleship Crew Leyte Gulf October 24, 1944
1,000 [89] Eiwa Maru Japan Tanker ship Troops South China Sea November 13, 1944
991 [90] Galilea Italy Troopship Italian alpine troops, Italian carabinieri, Greek POWs Mediterranean Sea March 28, 1942
956–1,025 [91] Neuwerk Germany Cargo ship Refugees, railway workers, doctors Baltic Sea April 10, 1945
977 [92] Bretagne France Battleship Crew Mers El Kébir July 3, 1940
850–1,100 [93] Shuntien United Kingdom Defensively equipped merchant ship Italian and German POWs, British soldiers, and crew Mediterranean Sea December 23, 1941
970 [94] Karlsruhe Germany Cargo ship Passengers, crew Baltic sea April 13, 1945
956 [95] Taihei Maru Japan Troopship Troops Sea of Okhotsk July 9, 1944
954 [96] Palatia Germany Passenger ship Crew, Soviet POWs Off Lindesnes October 21, 1942
946 [97] Exercise Tiger United Kingdom Military exercise U.S. troops South Devon April 28, 1944
945 [98] Aikoku Maru Japan Armed merchant cruiser Troops Pacific Ocean February 17, 1944
918 [99] Corregidor United States Ocean liner Passengers, crew South China Sea December 12, 1941
920 Blücher Germany Heavy cruiser Troops, crew Oslofjord April 9, 1940
903 [100] Chitose Japan Light aircraft carrier Crew Philippines Sea October 25, 1944
800 [101] –901 [102] Unyō Japan Escort aircraft carrier Crew South China Sea September 17, 1944
900 [103] Haguro Japan Heavy cruiser Crew Strait of Malacca May 16, 1945
895 [104] Tirpitz Germany Battleship Crew Tromsø November 12, 1944
883 [105] USS Indianapolis United States Heavy cruiser Crew Philippine Sea July 30, 1945
881 [106] Nachi Japan Heavy cruiser Crew Manila Bay November 5, 1944
862 [107] HMS Barham United Kingdom Battleship Crew Mediterranean Sea November 25, 1941
858 [108] RMS Nova Scotia United Kingdom Troopship Passengers, British military and naval personnel, South African guards, Italian civil internees Indian Ocean November 28, 1942
846 [109] Lisbon Maru Japan Hell ship British and Canadian POWs East China Sea October 1, 1942
843 [110] Zuikaku Japan Aircraft carrier Crew Leyte Gulf October 25, 1944
833 [111] HMS Royal Oak United Kingdom Battleship Crew Scapa Flow October 14, 1939
817 [112] Taiyo Maru Japan Passenger ship Passengers, crew East China Sea May 8, 1942
814 [113] Kaga Japan Aircraft carrier Crew Midway June 4, 1942
808 [114] Leopoldville Belgium Troopship U.S. troops English Channel December 24, 1944
791 Struma Panama Passenger Refugees Black Sea February 24, 1942
718 Sōryū Japan Aircraft carrier Crew Midway June 4, 1942
693 USS Houston United States Heavy cruiser Crew Java Sea March 1, 1942
655 Ceramic United Kingdom Passenger Civilians Atlantic Ocean December 6, 1942
645 HMAS Sydney Australia Light cruiser Crew Indian Ocean November 19, 1941
631 Shōhō Japan Aircraft carrier Crew Coral Sea May 7, 1942
549 Ukishima Maru Japan Transport Korean forced laborers Maizuru, Japan August 24, 1945
518 HMS Courageous United Kingdom Aircraft carrier Crew Irish coast September 17, 1939
513 HMS Repulse United Kingdom Battlecruiser Crew South China Sea December 10, 1941
484 Yoma United Kingdom Troopship Crew, British Army troops, and Free French Navy personnel [115] Mediterranean June 17, 1943
353 HMAS Perth Australia Light cruiser Crew Sunda Strait March 1, 1942
338 HMS Curacoa United Kingdom Light cruiser Crew Atlantic Ocean October 2, 1942
327 HMS Prince of Wales United Kingdom Battleship Crew South China Sea December 10, 1941
271 Ilmarinen Finland Coastal defence ship Crew Baltic Sea September 13, 1941
159 USS Asheville United States Gunboat Crew Java Sea March 3, 1942
152 USS Morrison United States Destroyer Crew East China Sea May 4, 1945
137 Caribou Newfoundland Ferry Passengers, crew Cabot Strait October 14, 1942

Post-World War II Edit

Estimate of death toll Name Country Ship type Principal casualties Where sunk Date
2,750 SS Kiangya China Steamship Refugees Huangpu River, Shanghai December 3, 1948
323 ARA General Belgrano Argentina Cruiser Crew South Atlantic May 2, 1982
194 INS Khukri India Frigate Crew Arabian Sea December 8, 1971
34 USS Liberty United States Spy ship Crew Mediterranean Sea June 8, 1967
20 HMS Sheffield United Kingdom Guided missile destroyer Crew South Atlantic May 4, 1982

This section lists terrorist attacks in which at least 50 individuals were killed.

This section lists events in which at least 100 individuals were killed from riots or mass unrest.

This section lists notable individual episodes of mass suicide or human sacrifice. For tolls arising from the systematic practice of suicide or sacrifice, see Human sacrifice and ritual suicide.

Timeline: The deadliest mass shootings in the US

Thirty people die in two mass shootings within hours, shocking the country and prompting calls for tighter gun control.

At least 22 people were killed after a man armed with an assault rifle opened fire in a packed Walmart store in El Paso, Texas on Saturday – the seventh deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

Hours later, a gunman dressed in body armour opened fire in a downtown district of Dayton, Ohio on Sunday, killing nine people and wounding at least 26 others.

“God bless the people of El Paso Texas. God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio,” US President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday.

Six of the 10 deadliest massacres in the United States have taken place in the last five years.

Here’s a look at the deadliest mass shootings in the US over the last 35 years:

Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas (2017): 58 killed

  • Attacker Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd of concertgoers at a country music festival at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more.

Pulse nightclub, Orlando (2016): 49 killed

A heavily armed man killed 49 people inside a gay nightclub in the city of Orlando on June 12, 2016.

The attacker, US citizen Omar Mateen, was killed in a gun battle with police. He had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, which later claimed responsibility for the attack.

Virginia Tech University, Virginia (2007): 32 killed

  • A 23-year-old student, South Korean national Seung-Hui Cho, went on a rampage at Virginia Tech University in April 2007, killing 27 students and five teachers before committing suicide.

Sutherland Springs church, Texas (2017): 26 killed

  • A gunman opened fire on a Sunday morning church service in the small rural town of Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing at least 26 people and injuring 20 others. The youngest person killed was 17 months old.

Sandy Hook, Connecticut (2012): 26 killed

  • A 20-year-old American citizen, Adam Lanza, killed his mother in December 2012 before shooting and killing 20 children aged between 6 and 7, and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He later committed suicide.

Texas restaurant (1991): 23 killed

  • In October 1991, 35-year-old George Hennard, a US citizen, shot dead 22 people in a restaurant in the town of Killeen before shooting himself. The 23rd victim succumbed to her wounds three days after the shooting.

Walmart store, El Paso (2019): 22 killed

  • A man armed with an assault rifle opened fire at a packed shopping area in El Paso, in the US state of Texas, killing at least 20 people and wounding 26 others.

McDonald’s, San Ysidro (1984): 21 killed

  • In July 1984, 41-year-old James Huberty, shot dead 21 people and wounder 19 others in a mass shooting at McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro.

Florida high school (2018): 17 killed

  • A former student opened fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in southeastern Florida , killing at least 17 and injuring more than a dozen others.

San Bernardino (2015): 14 killed

A newlywed couple – US citizen Rizwan Farook and his Pakistani wife Tashfeen Malik, who was a permanent resident – stormed an office party at a social services centre in San Bernardino, California in December 2015, killing 14 people and injuring 22 others. The couple were shot dead by police.

Fort Hood military base (2009): 13 killed

  • In November 2009, US Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan opened fire at his military base in Killeen, killing 13 people and injuring 42 others.

New York immigrant centre (2009): 13 killed

  • A Vietnamese immigrant, Jiverly Antares Wong, shot and killed 13 people at a civic centre in the city of Binghamton in April 2009, before killing himself.

Columbine High (1999) : 13 killed

  • Two American teenage boys – Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold – shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher, before killing themselves at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in April 1999.

Virginia Beach, Virginia (2019): 12 killed

  • At least 12 people were killed in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in May 2019 when a gunman opened fired at a municipal centre, sending employees scrambling for cover before police and shot and killed him, authorities said.

Navy Yard headquarters (2013): 12 killed

  • Former serviceman Aaron Alexis, a US citizen, shot randomly at workers at the Washington Navy Yard headquarters in September 2013, killing 12 people before he was shot dead by police.

Aurora, Colorado (2012): 12 killed

  • James Holmes, a US citizen born in California, wearing body armour, stormed a cinema showing a late-night premiere of a Batman film in Aurora, Colorado in July 2012, opening fire and releasing tear gas. Twelve people were killed and 70 others wounded. Holmes was sentenced to life in prison.

California bar (2018): 12 killed

A 28-year-old US Marine Corps combat veteran opened fire in a crowded country music bar in California, killing 12 people in November 2018.

The assailant, a troubled former machine gunner who served a tour in Afghanistan, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Synagogue in Pittsburgh (2018): 11 killed

A 46-year-old gunman burst into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during Shabbat services, killing eleven people in October 2018.

He reportedly yelled “All Jews must die!” during the attack. He was indicted on 29 counts, some of which carry the death penalty.

High School in Santa Fe (2018): 10 killed

A 17-year-old student armed with a shotgun and a revolver opened fire just as classes started at his school in Santa Fe, Texas, in May 2018.

He killed 10 people, including eight students. The student, who authorities say used weapons legally owned by his father, was taken into custody on murder charges.

Oregon District of Dayton, Ohio (2019): 9 killed

A gunman killed nine people and injured 16 in the Oregon District of Dayton, Ohio, but officers nearby were able to “put an end to it quickly” and shot the gunman.

The shooter has been identified as Connor Betts, 24, who reportedly did not have a previous police record.

America's deadliest days

Given that the infographic lists events and not dates, it's reasonable to assume it's attempting to rank the highest death tolls caused by a specific event or cause that took place on a single day. The events on the infographic are certainly among America's deadliest, but the list omits several one-day events and causes that saw higher death counts than those of Dec. 1-4.

Here's the ranking, based on USA TODAY's findings, as of Dec. 8, the date the list appears to have first been shared.

1. Galveston Hurricane – 8,000 deaths

A Category 4 storm swept through the Caribbean and Florida in 1900, making landfall on Sept. 8 in Galveston, Texas, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. The deadly combination of the hurricane's surge and winds up to 145 mph killed an estimated 8,000 people — about 20% of the city's population.

2. Battle of Antietam – 3,650 deaths

In the bloodiest one-day battle of the Civil War, the Union army lost approximately 2,100 soldiers and the Confederate army lost about 1,550, totaling about 3,650 deaths, according to the National Park Service. An estimated 19,070 more soldiers combined were wounded, missing or captured. The NPS noted that the "catastrophic nature" of the Battle of Antietam makes it "virtually impossible" to compile the exact number of casualties its data is from the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion and the Antietam Battlefield Board.

3. San Francisco earthquake – 3,000 deaths

On the morning of April 18, 1906, an earthquake that lasted less than a minute devastated San Francisco, according to the National Archives. An estimated 3,000 people were killed and nearly half the city's population was left homeless.

4. Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – 2,977 deaths

A series of terrorist attacks orchestrated by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden killed a total of 2,977 people on Sept. 11, 2001. When the World Trade Center collapsed after hijacked planes crashed into the twin towers, 2,753 people were killed, according to the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner. Following the initial attack, 343 New York City firefighters, 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority officers perished, CNN reported. At the Pentagon in Washington, 183 people were killed after another hijacked plane flew into that building. And 40 passengers and crew members aboard another hijacked plane died after it crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, the theory being that those individuals attempted to retake control of the flight so that it would not reach its intended target.

5. Dec. 3, COVID-19 – 2,879 deaths

6. Dec. 2, COVID-19 – 2,804 deaths

7. Dec. 4, COVID-19 – 2,607 deaths

8. April 15, COVID-19 – 2,603 deaths

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the above figures represent the number of individuals who died from COVID-19 on those dates, three of which occurred during the first four days of December.

It's important to note that COVID-19 data varies on different sites. According to the New York Times death tally, the deadliest days due to COVID-19 at the time the list was made were April 15 (2,752), May 6 (2,708) and April 14 (2,705).

250,000 lives lost: How the pandemic compares to other deadly events in U.S. history

At least 250,000 people in the United States have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, since February, and many public health officials warn the pandemic is just entering its deadliest phase. Yet, as the country confronts this horrifying death toll, there is little understanding of what a loss of this size represents.

Here is some historical perspective about losing a quarter of a million people, looking at major events in our past that have cost American lives.

More than 58,000 Americans were killed during the decade-plus of involvement in the Vietnam War. So the pandemic’s fatalities represent four Vietnam Wars since February.

During the Korean War, nearly 37,000 Americans were lost covid-19 has claimed nearly seven times more.

During World War II, the country mourned 405,000 members of the “Greatest Generation.” The pandemic has taken nearly two-thirds as many people, a lot of them old enough to remember the fight against the Nazis and the Japanese.

And World War I? 116,000 U.S. dead in two years of fighting. The pandemic has more than doubled that number in a fraction of the time.

What about our deadliest conflict, the Civil War? Death toll estimates range from 600,000 to 850,000. Even at the high end of that range, the pandemic has permanently taken nearly 30 percent as many family members from Thanksgiving tables.

On Sept. 11, 2001, almost 3,000 people were killed in terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pa.

The deadliest day of the pandemic so far — Sept. 18 — surpassed that, at 3,660 deaths. Wednesday, as the virus surged across the country, the daily death toll had risen again to 1,894. Public health officials fear that by the end of this month, the United States could lose more people per day from the pandemic than the 2,403 Americans killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

250,000 lives lost: How the pandemic compares to other deadly events in U.S. history

At least 250,000 people in the United States have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, since February, and many public health officials warn the pandemic is just entering its deadliest phase. Yet, as the country confronts this horrifying death toll, there is little understanding of what a loss of this size represents.

Here is some historical perspective about losing a quarter of a million people, looking at major events in our past that have cost American lives.

More than 58,000 Americans were killed during the decade-plus of involvement in the Vietnam War. So the pandemic’s fatalities represent four Vietnam Wars since February.

During the Korean War, nearly 37,000 Americans were lost covid-19 has claimed nearly seven times more.

During World War II, the country mourned 405,000 members of the “Greatest Generation.” The pandemic has taken nearly two-thirds as many people, a lot of them old enough to remember the fight against the Nazis and the Japanese.

And World War I? 116,000 U.S. dead in two years of fighting. The pandemic has more than doubled that number in a fraction of the time.

What about our deadliest conflict, the Civil War? Death toll estimates range from 600,000 to 850,000. Even at the high end of that range, the pandemic has permanently taken nearly 30 percent as many family members from Thanksgiving tables.

On Sept. 11, 2001, almost 3,000 people were killed in terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pa.

The deadliest day of the pandemic so far — Sept. 18 — surpassed that, at 3,660 deaths. Wednesday, as the virus surged across the country, the daily death toll had risen again to 1,894. Public health officials fear that by the end of this month, the United States could lose more people per day from the pandemic than the 2,403 Americans killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Top 10 Most Audacious Shootouts in US History

These shootouts are police incidents, as opposed to military battles. I have not ranked them according to body count or fame, but according to the reckless disregard for life inherent in them. The list is long but the reading easy and the added details help to show just how astonishing some of these shootouts really were.

At 6221 Osage Ave., Philadelphia, PA, on May 13, 1985, members of MOVE, a predominantly black organization dedicated to nature, and African tradition, were confronted by the Philadelphia Police Dept., after neighbors complained of MOVE&rsquos constant bullhorn announcements of anti-American sentiment at all hours. In an attempt to clear the building, the police fired tear gas, and the fire dept. hosed the roof with water cannons.

A burst of gunfire erupted from inside the building, and the police responded with thousands of rounds of small arms fire for 90 minutes. They then tried to remove two roof structures by dropping a 4 pound bomb of C-4 and Tovex onto the roof. This started a fire that eventually consumed the entire neighborhood. Eleven members of MOVE died in the fire. Only two survived.

The PPD was sued and forced to pay $1.5 million to a survivor and relatives, due to using excessive force and unlawful search and seizure. I have included this as an astounding example of a police force&rsquos audacity and consequent repercussions, as opposed to the rest of the entries.

On August 7, 1970, in an attempt to free his brother, imprisoned Black Panther leader George Jackson, 17-year old Jonathan Jackson walked right into a courthouse in Marin County, California with an arsenal of weapons, stormed a room where a trial was taking place, and armed defendant James McClain, on trial for murdering a prison guard, and two fellow convicts who were participating in the trial as witnesses, William Christmas and Ruchell Magee. The four armed men then took the judge, a district attorney and three jurors hostage, and marched them out of the courthouse into a waiting getaway van.

As they attempted to flee the scene, a shootout began between the suspects and Marin County Sheriffs deputies providing security at the courthouse. By the end of the gun battle, Jackson, McClain, Christmas, and judge Harold Haley were killed. According to the hostages, Haley was executed by a shotgun blast to his throat. Magee was severely injured, but survived the battle and was sentenced to life in prison. One juror and the D.A. were also wounded. One of the weapons used by Jackson was later traced to Black Panther icon Angela Davis, who was tried, and acquitted, for participation in the crime.

On April 6, 1970, two heavily armed career criminals, Jack Twinning and Bobby Davis, engaged the California Highway Patrol in Newhall, CA. This resulted in the deadliest day in California law enforcement history.

After dark, Davis almost crashed into another car. The occupants confronted him, and he pulled out a handgun. They claimed that the CHP was coming, and he fled. They called the police. Later, having picked up Twinning, they were pulled over by Officers Walt Frago and Robert Gore, rookies.

At first the suspects complied. Davis exited and allowed himself to be frisked. Frago approached the other side of the car carrying a shotgun at &ldquoport arms,&rdquo stock against his hip and barrel pointed in the air. This was not procedure.

As Frago walked to the Pontiac, Twinning exited the passenger seat and opened fire with a .38 caliber revolver. Before Frago could aim his shotgun at Twinning, he was struck by two .357 magnum rounds and killed. Gore quickly drew his service revolver and returned fire at Twinning, but in doing so lost track of Davis, who was right next to him. While Twinning and Gore exchanged gunfire, Davis pulled a .38 caliber revolver out of his waistband and killed Gore with two shots in the head, point blank.
Shortly after Gore was killed, a second police cruiser containing CHP officers George Alleyn and James Pence arrived on the scene. As soon as it pulled up to the first cruiser, Davis and Twinning opened fire on it with their revolvers, expending all their remaining rounds, and then dove back into their own car for new weapons. Davis pulled out a sawn-off shotgun, while Twining grabbed a semi-automatic Colt 1911 .45 ACP. After firing one shot, Twinning&rsquos .45 jammed, but he simply grabbed another one out of the car and exited out the driver&rsquos side.

As they did this, officer Alleyn emptied his pump 12-ga shotgun at the Pontiac, firing the gun so fast he accidentally ejected a live round in the process. A single pellet from the shotgun struck Twinning in the forehead, but did not penetrate his skull and inflicted only a minor wound.
After expending all his shotgun rounds, Alleyn opened fire on Davis with his .357 magnum, but scored no hits. Davis returned fire with his sawn-off shotgun, striking Alleyn with several rounds of 00 buckshot and inflicting fatal injuries.

At this point, 31-year-old bystander Gary Kness, a former U.S. Marine, intervened. Kness got out of his vehicle and ran over to the fallen officer Alleyn. He tried to drag Alleyn to safety, but was unable to move him. He looked up and saw Davis discard his now-empty sawn-off shotgun and grab the pump shotgun that had been dropped by Frago. Apparently not realizing Frago had never fired the weapon, Davis tried to cycle the action of the shotgun, but since it had not been fired, it was locked on a live round. He accidentally fired the gun into the air, dropped it and grabbed the service revolver out of Frago&rsquos holster.

Meanwhile on the other side of the cruiser, Pence fired all six rounds from his .357 Magnum revolver at Twinning, and missed. Twinning returned fire with his .45, striking Pence in the chest and both legs. Pence fell, trying to reload. At the time, the CHP did not issue their officers speedloaders, forcing Pence to reload one round at a time.

Back on the other side of the cruiser, Kness picked up Alleyn&rsquos discarded shotgun and tried to shoot at Davis, but the gun was empty. As Davis opened fire on him with Frago&rsquos revolver, Kness dropped the shotgun and returned fire with Pence&rsquos service revolver. His shots struck the Pontiac, and a fragment of one bullet lodged into Davis&rsquo chest. However, the shot did not incapacitate Davis, and Kness was out of ammunition.

While this was going on, the wounded Pence was still attempting to reload his revolver. As he did so, he failed to notice Twinning sneak up to the cruiser and around the left side. As he inserted the sixth cartridge and started to close the cylinder of his weapon, Twinning killed Pence with a point-blank shot to the head. Kness ran for cover in a ditch, and both suspects exchanged fire with the officers of a third CHP cruiser, newly arrived, then ran into the darkness with the officers&rsquo weapons. Davis was apprehended at 3:25 AM, after stealing a civilian&rsquos camper and exchanging fire with him. The owner called the police, who tracked down the camper within hours. Davis was out of ammunition and surrendered.

Twinning broke into a house three miles from the first shootout scene, and took the resident hostage. He bragged to the police for several hours of a standoff that he had wasted Frago. Police then stormed the building with teargas, and twinning shot himself. Davis was given the death penalty, but this was commuted in 1972, when the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty. He killed himself in prison, August 16, 2009, at 67.

On October 20, 1981, more than 10 members of the Black Liberation Army attacked the two drivers on an armored truck outside a bank at the Nanuet Mall in Nanuet, New York. At 3:55 PM, the drivers were hit by fully automatic M-16 fire, and handgun fire, one dying instantly, and the other surviving, but almost losing his arm. The robbers stole $1.6 million and fled in a van, to a nearby parking lot where they changed to a U-Haul truck.

Police converged on the mall, and a college student called to report the vehicle change, after which, four police officers stopped the U-Haul and another get-away car, and were immediately engaged by the robbers. One suspect, a woman, pretended to be innocent and convinced the police to lower their guard, whereupon, six men jumped out of the back of the U-Haul with M-16s and body armor, and opened fire.

Two officers were killed, the other two wounded. The last officer to keep fighting, Brian Lennon, was unable to exit his car, and fired his shotgun through his windshield at the robbers, attempting to ram him with the U-Haul. They fled the scene, some on foot, some in their second vehicle, others carjacking a civilian.

They were apprehended over the next 6 years, following an extensive investigation, and all received long prison sentences. The Brinks guard who survived, Joe Trombino, died in the WTC, on September 11, 2001.

George &ldquoBabyface&rdquo Nelson (pictured dead above) engaged FBI agents in a running gun battle through Barrington, IL, a suburb of Chicago, on November 27, 1934. The events that transpired cemented Nelson&rsquos infamy as a reckless criminal who had no fear of death.

He was driving down the road with his wife and John Chase, an accomplice, in the car, along with several weapons, when he passed a car of FBI agents going the other way. Both parties recognized each other, and Nelson swung his car around, and he and Chase began firing at the FBI who attempted to get away. An astonishing reversal of the normal situation.

The FBI fired back and disabled Nelson&rsquos car with a shot through the radiator. He drove it into a small field, and the FBI drove away and set up an ambush that never came. They then returned, and resumed the firefight with Nelson and Chase in the field.

Two more agents joined the fight, Herman Hollis and Samuel Cowley. Hollis had killed Pretty Boy Floyd a month earlier. The agents stopped their vehicle in a hail of Nelson and Chase&rsquos gunfire and fired back. Nelson was hit in the stomach as his wife fled the scene. She saw the hit, and reported Nelson to sit down on the running board of his car, while Chase continued to shoot.

Nelson then snarled and stood, walked right out from behind his car into the gunfire and screamed at Hollis and Cowley, &ldquoI&rsquom gonna kill you sons of bitches!&rdquo and opened fire with a .351 semi-automatic rifle, firing so rapidly that it was mistaken for a Thompson submachine gun.

Hollis and Cowley fled in terror, while Chase kept the other two agents pinned down. Cowley turned and fired back, but ran out of ammunition and was gunned down by Nelson. Hollis shot Nelson in both legs with a shotgun, knocking him down.

Nelson proceeded to get to his feet and gun Hollis down, hitting him several times in the head. In all, Nelson was hit 9 times. He, his wife and Chase fled the scene, before the other two agents could return fire. Nelson died that night from his wounds. Chase was captured and went to Alcatraz.

In what is still one of the most indelible mass shootings in U. S. history, Charles Whitman, an ex-Marine who had qualified as a sharpshooter, barricaded himself into the Tower on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, on August 1, 1966, and opened fire on innocent bystanders for 96 minutes.

He had already killed his mother and wife, and three others on the way up the Tower stairs. He used a scoped Remington 6mm deer rifle, an M-1 carbine, a .35 caliber Remington pump rifle, a .357 magnum revolver, a 9mm Luger, and a sawn-off 12-ga pump shotgun.

He commenced firing at 11:48 am, and indiscriminately killed 11 civilians, and wounded 32 more, before police officers were able to get up to the observation deck and shoot him down.

He shot a pregnant woman through the stomach. This was probably a deliberate attempt to kill the fetus, which succeeded. The mother, Claire Wilson survived. He shot Paul Sonntag, a student, through the mouth, from 400 yards, then shot his fiancée, Claudia Rutt in the chest, as she attempted to drag him behind cover.

Ambulances and even an armored car were employed to rescue pinned-down civilians. An ambulance driver, Morris Hohmann, was shot through the leg.

In true Texas style, civilians in the area ran to their vehicles and brought out their own deer rifles, shotguns, and handguns, and returned fire to the top of the tower, pinning Whitman down well enough for nine officers to get to the top of the building. Ramiro Martinez and Houston McCoy flanked Whitman, and Martinez emptied his revolver at him, wounding him. McCoy then fired two rounds of 12-ga 00 buckshot into the head, neck and left side of Whitman, killing him instantly.

Martinez then grabbed the shotgun from McCoy, ran up to Whitman&rsquos body, and shot him again in the upper left arm, point blank. There is a photo of Whitman&rsquos dead body on Wikipedia. He was subsequently found to have a glioblastoma, a brain tumor that could have caused his erratic mentality, as he had not always been homicidal.

Political Classifieds

☑️ SECRETS by Fred Ellis Brock, the third novel in The Seven trilogy, now available on Amazon, etc. A thriller out of today’s headlines: murder, treason, and UFO conspiracies. Published by Wyatt-MacKenzie.

☑️ On the American Exchange podcast, ex-pat Erich McElroy reaches across from London to try and find out what is happening to his home country. Past guests include Mary Trump, SE Cupp, Anthony Scaramucci and more.

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About Political Wire

Taegan Goddard is the founder of Political Wire, one of the earliest and most influential political web sites. He also runs Political Job Hunt, Electoral Vote Map and the Political Dictionary.

Goddard spent more than a decade as managing director and chief operating officer of a prominent investment firm in New York City. Previously, he was a policy adviser to a U.S. Senator and Governor.

Goddard is also co-author of You Won - Now What? (Scribner, 1998), a political management book hailed by prominent journalists and politicians from both parties. In addition, Goddard's essays on politics and public policy have appeared in dozens of newspapers across the country.

Goddard earned degrees from Vassar College and Harvard University. He lives in New York with his wife and three sons.

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41 Years of Mass Shootings in the U.S. in One Chart

T here have been at least four mass shootings so far in 2021, all of which have come in the last month and have left a total of 30 people dead and at least seven injured. The incidents serve as a reminder that, after a brief lull in 2020 when only two incidents met the formal definition of a mass shooting, leaving nine victims dead, the horrific and regular spates of public gun violence that have plagued the country for at least four decades are not over.

A database of mass shootings compiled by Mother Jones going back to 1982 counts 123 such incidents in which at least three people were killed, not including the gunman. In that time, 952 people have been killed and 1,315 wounded. The following chart visualizes each mass shooting in terms of deaths and injuries. TIME has examined each incident and slightly adjusted some values as the death toll and number of injured has been clarified over time.

America’s mass shooting epidemic defies not only one’s sense of humanity, but also the basic practice of counting. There are several common means of tallying mass shootings with widely divergent results, based on, for example, whether one limits to incidents of indiscriminate killings versus targeted homicides. As Mother Jones‘ Mark Follman notes, the actual number of fatalities is probably higher. A 2013 federal mandate authorized by President Obama lowered the definition of a mass shooting down from four victims to three, which led to more of these shootings being tracked, but there may be earlier ones that are not included. The chart also does not include the thousands of killings each year in which there were fewer than three fatalities.

Correction: A chart in the the original version of this story misstated Kalamazoo&rsquos location. It&rsquos in Michigan, not Mississippi.