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  • Writer's pictureJay Cameron Parker

Facts Loosely Based on Fiction


It took Howard Unruh 12 minutes to kill 13 people and wound 3 others. On a September morning in 1949, he walked through his hometown of Candem, New Jersey, with two 9mm handguns and began his killing spree. He murdered 5 men, 5 women, and 3 children. It is the first reported American mass shooting by a lone gunman of its kind.


Unruh was a World War Two Veteran who was found criminally insane at the time of his arrest. His mental illness may have been triggered by PTSD. It's said that every villain has their reasons. He spent the rest of his life in a maximum-security wing of an insane asylum,


In my novel, Machine of War, a character commits a similar crime but meets a different fate. That character also suffers from a mental illness, most likely brought on by childhood trauma. He's a sympathetic character until he starts his killing spree. I hope.


Even though I based the scene in my novel on that horrific event, one of the early readers who knew nothing about Unruh's crime thought the chapter to be outlandish. I agree.


Loading a gun, walking onto a street, and killing people is outlandish and insane, regardless of the villain's reasons. I sure hope it stays that way.



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