Thomas Watt Hamilton

In 1996, Thomas Watt Hamilton attacked a classroom at the Dunblane Primary School in Scotland.


Born in 1952 in Glasgow, Scotland, Thomas Watt Hamilton murdered almost an entire class of primary schoolchildren at the Dunblane Primary School in Scotland on March 13, 1996. After killing 17 people, he turned the gun on himself.

Early Life

Murderer Thomas Watt Hamilton was born on May 10, 1952, in Glasgow, Scotland. His mother, a hotel chambermaid, was divorced from his father by the time Hamilton was born. Hamilton never knew his father and grew up with his mother's adoptive parents, believing they were his biological parents. They legally adopted him at age 2. He also thought his biological mother was his sister until he was told the truth when he was 22 years old.

Suspicious Behavior

As a boy, Thomas Hamilton did well academically. He joined a rifle club and the Boys Brigade as a teenager, and at the age of 20, became an assistant leader of his local Boy Scouts club. Before long, there were complaints from the boys that Hamilton was teaching them to use rifles and handguns, as well as forcing them to engage in perverted activities, and then paying them to keep quiet. He was asked to leave the Scouts in 1974.

Between the 1970s and mid-1990s, Hamilton ran approximately 16 boys clubs. Once popular, the numbers declined due to Hamilton's increasingly strange behavior. A loner, Hamilton never formed any close relationships with adults of either sex and seemed particularly uncomfortable around women. People who had known him described him as deceitful, intolerant and suffering from delusions of grandeur. He was abusive, domineering and often used attack as a form of defense.

Dunblane Massacre

On March 13, 1996, in an unprovoked outbreak of rage that lasted three minutes, Hamilton killed or injured all but one of a class of 29 5- and 6-year-olds, along with their teacher, at the Dunblane Primary School in Scotland. He then shot and killed himself, ending the worst mass murder that the United Kingdom had ever seen. In total, 17 people were murdered—16 young children and their teacher, Gwen Mayor.

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