It’s still relatively early on a Monday morning when a beige Dodge pulls into the parking lot on the west side of the Cal State Fullerton library. A 22-caliber rifle lies on the front passenger seat.
The man who gets out looks younger than his 37 years, with shaggy, collar-length brown hair swept loosely across his forehead. He carries the rifle in his right hand and a box of bullets in his left as he casually walks toward the library.
His shooting rampage would last not more than five minutes. Police received the phone call just before 9 a.m.:
“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.”
Orange County’s bloodiest homicide happened on July 12, 1976 when CSUF library janitor Edward Charles Allaway gunned down nine of his coworkers. He killed seven.
A Superior Court jury found Allaway not guilty by reason of insanity. Psychiatrists, who interviewed Allaway after his arrest, said he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, a condition exacerbated by Allaway’s recent separation from his second wife. He suffered from hallucinations, they said.
Allaway had come to believe that certain co-workers were forcing his estranged wife to participate in perverse pornographic films. They would eventually murder her, Allaway thought. They would murder him too.
He seemed “to have been almost out of contact with reality and reacting to his hallucinations, delusions and some ideas of exterior control,” psychiatrist Daniel Castile wrote after interviewing Allaway when he was in custody. “It seems improbable that he would have been able to meaningfully deliberate and contemplate the nature, quality and wrongness of his actions.”
On the morning of the shootings, Allaway entered a stairwell in the library and made his way down to the basement.
Secretary Karen Dwinell sat in her office adjacent to the stairwell, talking with photographer Paul Herzberg and media center assistant Bruce Jacobsen, according to her court testimony. The time was around 8:30 a.m.
She heard a sound like a firecracker. Then Allaway stepped into her office doorway, staring silently, blankly at Dwinell. He pointed his rifle at her. Herzberg stepped between the two and Allaway fired two shots. Herzberg fell, bleeding from the head and chest.
Allaway shot once more into the room before he stepped back into the 150-foot hallway, and he hit a fleeing Jacobsen for a second time in the chest. Dwinell looked on helplessly, frozen in shock as the firing continued.
In the hallway, Allaway turned to his left and took aim at the graphics department at the end of the hallway, where designer Frank Teplansky and professor emeritus Seth Fesseden were working.
He killed Fesseden instantly. Teplansky, who was shot in the head, died a few hours later at St. Jude Hospital.
Allaway turned back the way he came and happened across fellow custodians Debra Paulsen and Donald Karges at the other end of the hallway. He fired a few rounds before he began to chase the two. The slap of running footsteps echoed through the corridor, then remonstrating screams, then the sound of firecrackers.
The weapon, Allaway would say during a psychiatric evaluation, “was not as a rifle really is.” It would serve as a mediator, a way for Allaway to talk to his persecutors and save his wife from her torture, he thought.
Allaway returned to the stairwell to reload his rifle, which housed 18 rounds.
He continued up the stairs to the library lobby and headed toward the elevators on the west side of the building. There he encountered morning-shift janitorial supervisor Maynard Hoffman.
“How would you like a shot, Maynard,” witnesses heard Allaway ask. “Did that feel good?”
As Allaway watched a still-breathing Hoffman crumble inside the bullet-riddled elevator, someone came from behind him and struck him over the head with a large plate. Earthenware pieces scattered all over the floor, and library technician Steven Becker attempted to wrestle the rifle from Allaway’s grasp, but the rifle exploded.
Becker stumbled away. Library supervisor Don Keran heard the commotion and came to help, according to his court testimony. He wrapped Allaway in a bear hug, and then the two crashed over tables and chairs. They breathed heavily and said nothing as they fought for control of the weapon. Allaway shoved Keran against a wall. Keran shoved back.
Then Keran ran out of wall, and he fell onto his back. Allaway stood over him, dangling the rifle inches from Keran’s body. Keran squirmed and tried to use his elbows to get back to his feet. Allaway pulled the trigger.
Then Allaway ran through an emergency exit to a courtyard on the south side of the library. An injured Becker gave chase. He would be the last to die. Allaway caught sight of his unarmed pursuer and raised his rifle.
Becker staggered 20 feet before collapsing near the fire hydrant at the south east side of the building.
Allaway retraced his steps again, re-entering the library from the east side on his way back to his car. He bled from a cut just above his left eyebrow; his clothes were spattered with blood.
Allaway eluded University Police and drove to the Anaheim Hilton Inn, where his estranged wife was on duty. He asked her for a glass of water and a dime so he could make a phone call.
Police burst into the hotel banquet room where an unarmed Allaway was waiting for them. They tackled Allaway and cuffed him before leading him to the squad car parked outside. They found a rifle wrapped in a blanket in Allaway’s backseat.
In the following days, Allaway would be charged with six counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, though in Allaway’s mind his five-minute shooting spree was the only way to save his estranged wife from being tortured. It was the only way to ultimately save himself.
“If the law sincerely tried to find out [the truth], and even use a lie detector – if I’m wrong, then they can hang me,” Allaway later said. “I’m totally scared and alone. I feel like I’ve professionally and profoundly been brainwashed.”