ON MARCH 13, 1996, sixteen children and their teacher were mercilessly shot dead in their school gym as they took part in a PE lesson.
Their killer was 43-year-old Thomas Hamilton who then turned the gun on himself.
Thomas Hamilton is known for being the killer in Britain’s deadliest mass shootingCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Who was Thomas Hamilton?
Thomas Watt Hamilton was born on May 10, 1952, in Glasgow, Scotland.
His mother, a hotel chambermaid, was divorced from his father by the time Hamilton was born.
Hamilton never knew his father and grew up with his mother’s adoptive parents, believing they were his biological parents.
They legally adopted him at age 2.
Hamilton shot dead children in their gym as they attended a PE classCredit: Rex Features
He also thought his biological mother was his sister until he was told the truth when he was 22 years old.
Hamilton had become an assistant Boy Scout leader at the age of 20 but soon came under suspicion because of his behaviour toward boys.
After a number of complaints, he was forced to leave – a move which angered him.
He repeatedly asked to be allowed to return, to no avail, and he wrote letters of protest to various government authorities, claiming persecution.
Hamilton was described a ‘misfit’ who had once been a Boy Scout leaderCredit: Collect
In the meantime, he became a gun collector, and he organised several boys’ clubs, in which he taught shooting, gymnastics, and sports.
Though his clubs were initially popular and well-attended, his reportedly strange behaviour eventually alienated club members and their parents, and the clubs were forced to shut down.
Hamilton was often described as an obsessive misfit who bottled up his paranoid resentment and was nicknamed Mr Creepy by others in the town of Dunblane.
The Dunblane Primary School class which was attacked by HamiltonCredit: Police
What happened in the Dunblane massacre?
Just after 9.30am on March 13, 1996, local former Scout leader, Hamilton, drove into Dunblane Primary’s car park, got out of his van, and tried to block the phone lines of the school by cutting cables on a telegraph pole.
He then entered the school carrying four handguns and 743 rounds of ammunition.
Hamilton entered the school gym, where Year 1 students had just arrived for a PE class with their teacher Gwen Mayor.
Hamilton carried out his attack on March 13, 1996, at this primary schoolCredit: PA:Press Association
He immediately opened fire, killing Mayor instantly and wounding two other teachers who were present in the gym.
While most children were dragged into a store cupboard for safety by their teachers, Hamilton fired 16 shots at point-blank range at a group of children who had been injured by his previous shots.
Of them, 15 died instantly, while one child died later en route to the hospital.
Hamilton briefly left the gym, but continued firing shots towards the library and a mobile classroom.
Families rush to the Dunblane school to find out what had happenedCredit: PA:Press Association
When Hamilton went back inside the gym, he dropped the gun he was using and selected the Smith & Wesson.
He then shot himself, dying instantly.
Hamilton had used his Browning pistol 105 times; 17 people were dead, 32 sustained gunshot wounds, all under just four minutes. The 106th bullet was for himself.
The entire attack lasted no more than five minutes.
Grief swept the nation after it was revealed what Hamilton had doneCredit: PA:Press Association
Why did Thomas Hamilton do it?
A motive for Hamilton’s actions have never been fully explained.
The string of letters he wrote from 1992 up to the time of the massacre indicate he had become obsessed with the notion he was being persecuted by the authorities and Scout Association officials.
The letters also reveal his animosity towards Central Regional Council’s education authorities as well as teachers.