On January 22, 1987, thirty five years ago, Pennsylvania republican R Budd Dwyer died.
In December 1986, Dwyer was convicted of conspiracy, perjury and other charges after taking bribes. (Many on the right continue to claim he was innocent despite overwhelming evidence.) The day before he was to be sentenced to 55 years in prison, Dwyer held a press conference. Many assumed he was going to announce his resignation, or that he had accepted a plea deal of some sort. Pennsylvania prosecutors said there was no such deal on offer.
Dwyer handed out envelopes to various (specific?) attendees which turned out to have a letter to his wife, among other statements. After speaking, Dwyer pulled out another envelope which contained a .357 magnum handgun. Many who worked with Dwyer suspected he might lash out at others verbally, but not with a weapon. However, Dwyer only aimed the firearm at one person.
The press conference was being broadcast live. The TV stations made the poor decision to continue broadcasting live when Dwyer pulled the weapon. His death was the first suicide live on US TV since Christine Chubbuck in 1974. I will not link to any video of the shooting; grotesquely, the film is too easily found.
Several songs have been written about the incident. By comparison to the others, Filter’s “Hey Man, Nice Shot” from 1995 is ‘tasteful’.
The second death of note is Ronald Gay, who died on January 21. Gay was sentenced to four life sentences for the mass shooting and murder he perpetrated at in September 2000. The Backstreet Cafe was a gay bar, and he went their with the intent of committing mass murder.
Ronald Gay — a 75-year-old former Marine who killed one man and injured six others in his September 2000 shooting of the Backstreet Cafe gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia — has died of natural causes as a prisoner in a hospital. He was 75.
The shooting, which happened one week after the local Pride festival, was the last major gay bar shooting before the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.
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Roughly 16 years later, on the day of the Pulse Shooting, [Joel] Tucker told The Washington Post, “I woke up and cut the TV on, saw CNN and every bit of what happened in 2000 just flooded back. It was like it just happened, the whole thing.”
“My ex-partner texted me and said, ‘Oh my God, did you see what happened?’ He was sitting beside me [at Backstreet]. It all just came back, tenfold. Oh my God, what a tragedy,” he added.
He said later of the Pulse shooting victims, “My heart went out to those people so badly. When I think about all these people that are dead because of them just enjoying their life — and I think about all those people that are laying in those hospitals and suffering — you have got to be strong.”
“Don’t let something like this ruin your life because it could’ve ruined mine,” he added.
Good riddance to bad rubbish.