Oregon Museum Tavern shooting

Deaths 5 (including 1 who died in 2013)
Location Salem, Oregon, U.S.
Injured 18
Date May 7, 1981 10:30pm
Perpetrator Lawrence William Moore


The Oregon Museum Tavern shooting occurred on May 7, 1981, at the Oregon Museum Tavern in Salem, Oregon.


Lawrence William Moore, 25, of Scio, Oregon, an unemployed mill worker walked into the crowded Oregon Museum Tavern on Front Street NE which was hosting a Ladies' night and without saying a word started to fire his 9mm Browning handgun. Moore first fired at the bar, before turning the weapon at patrons who began to flee.

Once the magazine had run out he reloaded and continued firing. One of the times he was reloading several patrons at the tavern overpowered him, wrestled him to the ground and held him, waiting for the police to arrive.

The killing spree ended with the killing of 3 people at the scene and the injuring of 20 others; one of these died in hospital later that night, and Dennis Scharf died nearly 32 years later from injuries sustained.


  • Lori J. Cunningham, 22 – died at the scene
  • John W. Cooper, 27 – died at the scene
  • Robert E. Hamblin, 24 – died at the scene
  • Allen L. Wilcox, 24 – died at hospital
  • Dennis Scharf, 56 – died January 19, 2013, due to complications from injuries sustained

Legal and aftermath

At trial, beginning on October 6, 1981, he pleaded innocent to the murder charges, citing mental disease or defect as a defense; however, he admitted to being the gunman. Moore stated the reason for the shooting that he was trying to apprehend members of a 'syndicate' of millionaires, Jews and criminals who had been trying to poison him.

Moore was subsequently found guilty of four counts of aggravated murder and sentenced to four life terms in prison.


The names of the deceased victims are included in a joint memorial wall at Oregon City's Mountain View Cemetery that memorializes some 390 people that were murdered. The memorial was dedicated by The Greater Portland Area chapter of Parents of Murdered Children.