Carl Robert Brown

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Carl Robert Brown
Carl Robert Brown.jpg
Born (1930-11-26)November 26, 1930
Died August 20, 1982(1982-08-20) (aged 51)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Occupation Teacher
Killings
Date August 20, 1982
c. 11:00 a.m.
Location(s) Miami, Florida, U.S.
Killed 8
Injured 3
Weapon(s) 12 gauge pump-action shotgun

Carl Robert Brown (November 26, 1930 – August 20, 1982) was an American teacher and mass murderer who killed eight people and injured another three with a shotgun in a Miami, Florida welding shop on August 20, 1982. He was later fatally shot and run down by two witnesses, when cycling away from the crime scene.

Biography[edit]

Brown was born on November 26, 1930. He joined the Navy and was honorably discharged in 1954. People later stated that Brown always kept a military bearing about himself and was quite militaristic. In 1955 he moved from Chicago to Florida,[1] where he graduated from the University of Miami in 1957 and in 1964 from East Carolina College in Greenville, North Carolina, earning a Master's degree in education. After working briefly for Keyes Realty he got a full-time job as history teacher at Hialeah Junior High School in 1962[1] and moonlighted at Miami-Dade Community College as an accounting instructor from 1964 to 1970.

Brown was married twice and had three children. His first wife died and his second marriage failed, according to his second wife, Sylvia, because he refused to seek psychological help. As a consequence his condition began to deteriorate, resulting in an increasingly disheveled and gaunt appearance, and, though once being a rather gregarious person, he began isolating himself more and more. A neighbor later described him looking "as if he were 80 years old". Reportedly one of his daughters once tried to have him hospitalized, though as his admission had to be voluntary her request was declined. Additionally his career began to suffer. Due to problems at Hialeah Junior High, Brown, who was well-known as a bigot and blatant racist who hated everyone,[2][3] was transferred to Drew Middle School, a school with a black majority, in 1981. There he taught American history until March 3, 1982 when he was relieved of his teaching duties for medical leave to treat his psychiatric problems.

Though neighbors described Brown as a quiet, kind and helpful man, who was working hard to keep his duplex neat and clean, and praising him overall as a landlord, it was also said that he made a habit of walking into other peoples yards early in the morning, waking them by yelling "United States!" and that during the night shots were heard from his house. It was also reported that he once broke a window when firing a pellet gun, and picked grapefruits from a neighbor's tree wearing only his underwear. Apparently he also collected aluminum cans.

After a trip abroad, which he had taken shortly before the shooting, he came back in worse shape than before and stated that nothing in the United States stood for anything.[2][3]

School problems[edit]

While Brown wrote in his application for a job as a teacher in 1961 that he "always enjoyed being with younger people" and felt that he "could benefit these younger people with his abilities", his work began to suffer as his psychological problems aggravated over the years. Being seen as a competent teacher for a long time, more and more complaints were filed against him as his condition worsened. Students began to refuse to sit in his class as he rambled incoherently about his personal problems and topics unrelated to his curriculum and conducted confusing conversations where he stringed together completely unrelated things. Students would often take advantage of this by asking him a question that resulted in him talking for the rest of the period.[2] On one occasion, on May 5, 1977, Brown sent three girls to detention because they refused to sit in his class, as they were "sick and tired of hearing him talk." He was also known to be very prejudiced, to make threatening remarks, and to insult people of other races.

During his time at Hialeah Junior High, Brown wrote a letter to the principal for "the enlightenment of the assistant principals" discussing the misbehavior of his students in rambling and poorly constructed sentences. "I don't read the students their rights as infants, you all do. (...) If you ever study business law, until a child is 18, the child can do just about anything the child desires to do and get away with the abuse. Any adult interfering, is accountable as an adult, but with infancy laws, the child is a child."

In the summer of 1981 Brown was transferred to Drew Middle School. There, on December 3, he had a dispute with two students, who he accused of throwing books. During the argument Brown described his sexual behavior with a girlfriend and chased the boys with a stapler. The School Board's director of personnel control, Pat Gray, described this as "a classroom incident (...) wherein Mr. Brown demonstrated a significant lack of adult judgment, an overtone of sexual fixation, and definitive aggression toward students." The school's principal wrote: "I found Mr. Brown to be incoherent and unable to grasp the severity of the situation at hand. I, also, fear for the safety of the students since during my conference with Mr. Brown he demonstrated no regret for his actions pointing to the fact that he is a 'man' and any man would have reacted in the same manner."

Principal Octavio Visiedo wrote in his last evaluation of Brown: "I find Mr. Brown to be a negative force. Today I did a follow-up observation of Mr. Brown's second-period class and I continue to be alarmed about the potential for disaster in that class. As you can see, from today's observation, there is absolutely no discipline or control in that class and I am concerned for the safety of the students and also Mr. Brown." Further, he stated that Brown's class was in "total and complete chaos", with students talking constantly, wandering about at will, and leaving without permission.

Brown reacted by writing a response in which he suggested that the principal "should seek the help" of the School Board's employee assistance program, to which he himself was referred to in January 1982.

Psychiatrist Dr. Robert A. Wainger examined Brown, saying that "Mr. Brown is suffering from rather severe anxiety associated with some paranoid and grandiose ideas" and that he also "demonstrates a probable thinking disorder". Though Wainger wrote that these symptoms would affect Brown's work, he was also of the opinion that he would be able to continue teaching if given psychotherapy and medication. Wainger also wrote that "although he may appear to be rather unusual and disorganized to the people around him, he (Brown) does not represent a danger to either.[4]

After his examination, Brown wrote to Wainger: "I wish to thank you for the very interesting and informative meeting I experienced yesterday. Please stress blood analysis, heart cartograph [sic] and urine plus the other mental health features of your program." Finally, on March 3, Brown was relieved of his duties to seek psychiatric help and he agreed to seek further treatment from Wainger, though in a meeting with Pat Gray, Brown apparently said: "Wainger wants to study me, that's all. I can cure Dr. Wainger. I will treat him. I will change his seeds."[4][5]

According to his former wife, Sylvia, Brown asked to return to work two days prior to the shooting, but his psychiatrist, who later stated that Brown showed no aggressiveness at that time, declined his request.[3][6]

The shooting[edit]

Map of Bob Moore's Welding Shop indicating the positions of Brown's victims

On August 19, the day before the shooting, Brown had a heated argument with Jorge Castalleda, an employee at "Bob Moore's Welding & Machine Service Inc.", about a $20 bill for repairing a lawnmower motor he wanted to use to power his bicycle, saying the work was poorly done. He was also angry, because his traveler's check was refused.[6] Realizing that his complaints were of no avail, Brown left the shop, stating that he would come in and kill everybody; no one took him seriously.

Early the next day Brown went to a gun store a few blocks from his home in Hialeah and purchased two shotguns, a semi-automatic rifle and ammunition. An hour before starting his rampage, Brown invited his 10-year old son to join him in "killing a lot of people" telling that the final destination would be Hialeah Junior High School.[7]

Shortly before 11:00 a.m. he arrived at the welding shop on his cycle, wearing a Panama hat and having one of the shotguns, which was variously identified as a 12 gauge Mosberg 500 Persuader[8] or an Ithaca 37[9] with pistol grip, slung over his shoulder. He entered the shop through a side door and began shooting, saying that he would send everybody to Germany. According to police Brown walked through the building, methodically shooting everyone, most of the time at close range and sometimes twice, leaving three victims in the office and others in the work area and the driveway in front of the shop. In the end six of the eleven employees present lay dead and two more dying, while three who were injured managed to escape and jump into the car of a passing motorist, who brought them to a gasoline station a mile away and called for help. When his gun was emptied Carl Brown stepped out of the store, reloaded and reentered to shoot two more times, before leaving for good and cycling away, apparently towards Hialeah Junior High School. According to a witness Brown "looked very passive and very nonchalant" and "wasn't trying to escape, just strictly leaving the crime scene." Another witness put it this way: "He got on his bike and pedaled off as if he was going for a stroll on North River Drive."

When Mark Kram, an employee at a nearby metal shop, was told of the massacre, he grabbed a .38 revolver and set out to pursue the shooter in his car. Down the street he picked up Ernest Hammett, who was trying to flag down cars, and together they tried to get hold of the perpetrator. Six blocks away from the crime scene, near Miami International Airport, they caught up with Brown and Kram, according to himself, fired a warning shot "over his (Brown's) head",[8] though the bullet hit Brown in the back and later proved to be the cause of his death. When Brown turned in his saddle, aiming at his pursuers with his shotgun, they ran him over, crashing him into a concrete light pole. Brown, who still had 20 shells in his pockets, died shortly afterward.[2][3]

Victims[edit]

Killed[edit]

  • Nelson Barrios, 46, welder
  • Lonie Jeffries, 53, crane operator
  • Carl Lee, 47, manager
  • Ernestine Moore, 67, the machine shop owner's mother
  • Mangum Moore, 78, the machine shop owner's uncle
  • Martha Steelman, 29, secretary
  • Juan Ramon Trespalacios, 38, machinist
  • Pedro Vasques, 44, shop foreman

Wounded[edit]

  • Eduardo Lima, 30
  • Carlos Vasquez Sr., 42
  • Carlos Vasquez Jr., 17

Aftermath[edit]

Following the shooting Robert Steelman, whose wife Martha was among the dead, filed lawsuits against the Garcia Gun Center, where Brown had purchased his weapons, and the Ithaca Gun Company, the manufacturer of the shotgun used by Brown in his rampage.[10]

Police found a cassette tape in Brown's house, where he called himself "Logos", a mythical figure he considered to be the controlling principle of the universe - "This is the Logos speaking. God through me is responsible for the good and bad sounds in your head." "Now I shall say a few good words in your head before I return you to the bad sounds in your head ... The Logos is the spark of God, the most logical. I am indestructable on Earth."[6] No charges were filed against Kram.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bustos, Sergio & Yanez, Luisa: Miami's Criminal Past Uncovered; Charleston, SC, United States: History Press (2007) ISBN 978-1-59629-388-5 (pp 65–76)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Right to know about teachers, St. Petersburg Times (September 18, 1982)
  2. ^ a b c d Miami killer was a "hater", The Evening Independent (August 21, 1982)
  3. ^ a b c d Dispute over bill ends in tragedy, St. Petersburg Times (August 21, 1982)
  4. ^ a b Principal feared trouble in class of mass murderer, Miami Herald (January 12, 1984)
  5. ^ File bares killer teacher's bizarre behavior, Miami Herald (July 2, 1983)
  6. ^ a b c Detectives investigating tape after mass slaying, Rome News-Tribune (August 23, 1982)
  7. ^ Did gunman plan to attack school?, Miami Herald (August 22, 1982)
  8. ^ a b Police Say Killer of 8 Had Just Purchased Gun, The New York Times (August 22, 1982)
  9. ^ Bustos, Sergio & Yanez, Luisa: Miami's Criminal Past Uncovered; Charleston, SC, United States: History Press (2007) ISBN 978-1-59629-388-5
  10. ^ Mass killing victim's family sues gun firms, The Palm Beach Post (September 22, 1982)

External links[edit]