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Cal State Fullerton Slayings Set the Bar on Terror

Edward Charles Allaway had been the author of the deadliest killing spree in Orange County history—until Wednesday.

Thirty-five years ago, Edward Charles Allaway introduced Orange County to mass murder. Like the alleged shooter Scott DeKraii on Wednesday in Seal Beach, Allaway was armed with an arsenal that was more than enough to carry out the mayhem that he wrought.

Allaway, 37, took a semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle he had purchased from K-Mart and shot up the library at Cal State Fullerton, where he worked as a janitor. The apparent motive for the July 12, 1976, attack was that Allaway—given to fits of hallucinations—thought pornographers were forcing his ex-wife to appear in their movies.

His second wife, Bonnie—15 years younger than Allaway—had filed for divorce shortly before the attack.

Seven people were killed, and two others injured, as Allaway opened fire in the library basement's Instructional Media Center and then in the first floor lobby. After his rampage, he drove to an Anaheim hotel where his former wife worked and called police to tell them what he had done: "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."

The defense alleged that commercial pornographic movies were being shown in the library by staff members before it opened in the mornings and in break rooms. Allaway's wife was not in the movies.

Allaway was convicted of six counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder. A second phase of his trial found that he was not sane; Allaway was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by five different mental health professionals. He is currently serving at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino.

The dead were:

  • Stephen L. Becker, age 32, assistant librarian
  • Seth Arthur Fessenden, age 72, professor emeritus of speech
  • Paul F. Herzberg, age 30, Instructional Media Center (IMC) photographer
  • Bruce A. Jacobson, age 32, IMC equipment technician
  • Donald Eugene Karges, age 41, custodian
  • Deborah Delores Paulsen, age 25, custodian
  • Frank G. Teplansky, age 51, IMC graphic artist

The wounded were:

  • Maynard Hoffman, age 64, custodial supervisor
  • Donald Keran, age 55, library supervisor

Allaway fatally wounded six people in the basement, chasing two down a hallway, with his first 18 rounds; he then went to a stairwell to reload, and then went to the library lobby. There, Allaway shot a custodial supervisor, who survived the attack, and fought with victims who tried to disarm him; he shot one man who was on the ground, and was being pursued by an injured Stephen Becker outside the library; Allaway shot Becker as he gave chase.

It was over in about five minutes. Allaway drove to the Anaheim Hilton Inn, where he asked Bonnie for a glass of water and a dime to make a phone call.

Joe October 14, 2011 at 09:33 PM
I remember the day of the CSUF shootings very well, as I was a student at the time and lived one mile away. It was summer break and I was working a graveyard shift job, and so I was home asleep that morning. By some strange coincidence, I had a vivid nightmare about a man shooting people and I was one of those trying to run. I woke up from my nightmare, and discovered patches of wet blood in my bed. During my nightmare, I WAS apparently furiously moving my legs, and the toenail on my big toe was slicing the skin of the other leg in my sleep. As I woke up and discovered the mess and was trying to break out of my grogginess, my phone rang. It was my cousin, another CSUF student, calling with news of the shooting at school. At first, I thought he was joking, and I told him about my weird dream. As the reality set in, we decided to meet and head over to campus late that afternoon. When we walked over to the library, we saw the thick, coagulated pool of blood outside the southeast corner of the building where Steve Becker was shot and died. I was thankful I hadn't gone to school for any research or registration that day. It was a very eerie day and one I will never forget. Rest in peace to all the victims.
Steve Funk January 14, 2013 at 04:43 AM
Steve Becker was a good friend of mine, although we had not seen each other much since high school. I hope the killer never gets out.

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