California State University, Fullerton massacre

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California State University, Fullerton massacre
Location Fullerton, California, United States
Date July 12, 1976
Target California State University, Fullerton
Attack type
School shooting
Weapons .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle
Deaths 7
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrator Edward Charles Allaway

The California State University, Fullerton massacre was an incident of mass murder committed by a custodian, Edward Charles Allaway, on July 12, 1976, at California State University, Fullerton, in Fullerton, California, United States.[1] It was the worst mass murder in Orange County until the 2011 Seal Beach shooting, in which eight people died.[2]

Allaway had a history of violence and mental illness. He was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic and found insane by a judge after being convicted by a jury. He is imprisoned at Patton State Hospital under medical treatment.[3]


The gunman, 37-year-old Edward Charles Allaway, was a custodian at the university's library. Armed with a semi-automatic rifle he purchased at a Buena Park Kmart, Allaway killed seven people and injured two others in the library's first-floor lobby and at the building's Instructional Media Center (IMC), located in the basement. Allaway fled the school campus, went to a nearby hotel in Anaheim, where his former wife worked, and telephoned police to report his actions. He told them, "I went berserk at Cal State Fullerton, and I committed some terrible act. I'd appreciate it if you people would come down and pick me up. I'm unarmed, and I'm giving myself up to you."[4]

Allaway was found guilty of six counts of first degree murder and one count of second degree murder. A second phase of the trial determined that he was not sane. Five different mental health professionals diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia.[5]

He presented a history of mental illness, as he had tried to commit suicide and had been hospitalized and treated with electroconvulsive therapy in the past. He was committed to the California state mental hospital system, beginning at Atascadero State Prison. Today he is held at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino.

He was found to have injured a co-worker at a Michigan plant. A short time before the shooting rampage, he had threatened his wife with a knife and raped her.[3]

Allaway's apparent motive was that he had delusions that pornographers were forcing his wife to appear in movies. The couple had separated over Memorial Day Weekend 1976 after a blow-up. His wife had filed for divorce shortly before Allaway attacked co-workers at the university.

The defense alleged that library staff members screened commercial pornographic movies before library opening hours and in break rooms, but Allaway's wife was not in them.

Trial and release hearings[edit]

After a 1977 jury convicted Allaway of murder but deadlocked in the sanity phase of the trial, a judge found Allaway not guilty by reason of insanity. By law, defendants found insane are committed to a mental institution until they are found sane. As of 2010, Allaway remained institutionalized at Patton State Hospital after several failed petitions to the courts asking for his release.[3]

In the summer of 2009, officials at Patton indicated that Allaway was asymptomatic, had not needed medication, and they would recommend his release. The district attorney contacted the governor and the state mental health director to protest the hospital's planned action, given his history of violence and the mass murder. Patton withdrew the recommendation for release a few months later.[6]

Victim Steve Becker's father was the university's founding dean of students.[7] He provided comments against Allaway's release on several occasions.[8][9]


  1. ^ "9 Shot At Cal State Fullerton". Orange County Register (Evening ed.). 12 July 1976. 
  2. ^ Paige Austin (9 October 2011). "Eight Dead in Shooting at Salon, Worst Massacre in O.C. History". Laguna Beach Patch. 
  3. ^ a b c Greg Hardesty (21 August 2013). "Release blocked for county's worst mass killer". Orange County Register. 
  4. ^ "Janitor kills 6 in shooting spree". Columbia Missourian (Columbia, Missouri). 13 July 1976. 
  5. ^ "Slayer goes to mental hospital". Los Angeles Times, reprinted in The Tuscaloosa News (Tuscaloosa, Alabama). 18 November 1977. 
  6. ^ Thao Hua (25 May 1998). "Mass Slayer Seeks Release From Mental Facility". Los Angeles Times. 
  7. ^ Robin Hinch (9 January 1998). "OBITUARY: Ernest Becker, 83, pioneering dean at CSUF". The Orange County Register (Morning ed.). p. B05. Among various professional achievements, he'll be remembered for an elephant race 
  8. ^ Jeff Collins (14 May 1991). "Man who killed 7 at CSUF in '76 says it's time state released him". Orange County Register. p. A01. 
  9. ^ Bryon MacWilliams (July 13, 1994). "Fullerton mass-murderer Allaway makes another bid for his release: Once found criminally insane, the killer wants to be placed in a community-based mental facility". Orange County Register (Morning ed.). p. B01. 

Further reading[edit]

Coordinates: 33°52′53″N 117°53′6″W / 33.88139°N 117.88500°W / 33.88139; -117.88500