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Shawn Nelson
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Military Personnel
    (August 21, 1959-May 17, 1995)
    US Army veteran/unemployed plumber
    Stole an M60 Patton tank from a National Guard armory
    Led police on a 23-minute chase through the streets of San Diego before being shot dead
    He became addicted to methamphetamine a few years before the rampage.
    He told a friend 'Oklahoma was good stuff' in an apparent reference to the Oklahoma City bombing.
    He crushed parked cars, utility poles and fire hydrants and attempted to knock down a bridge by ramming the supports.
    He got stuck on a median trying to cross over into oncoming traffic.
    He responded to police orders to surrender by rocking the tank back and forth in an attempt to free it from the median and throw off the police officers.
    Asked if the shooting was necessary, an officer replied, 'If he gets loose from there, if he gets into oncoming traffic, we will have someone killed.'
    Footage of his bloody body being removed from the tank by police was controversially shown by KGTV both live and on the 11 o'clock news.
    He faced a series of misfortunes in the years before the incident, including suffering neck and back injuries in a motorcycle accident (1990); having his plumbing equipment stolen from his truck, which combined with his injuries halted his business; foreclosure on his house; and both his parents dying from cancer in the same year (1992).
    His brother Scott said, 'My brother was a good man. He'd help anybody. He just couldn't help himself.'
    The tank theft prompted a major overhaul of security at the armory.
    The ammo for the tank was kept in a seperate building, so at least he could not use any of the weapons.
    Footage of his rampage was featured in the video for Megadeth's 'The Right to Go Insane.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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