30 years ago more than 900 men, women and children were massacred in a murder-suicide ritual thought up by cult leader Jim Jones.
On Nov. 18, 1978, members of the Jonestown security unit shot and killed congressman Leo Ryan, three journalists and one defector as they attempted to leave an airstrip near the settlement on two planes. The gunmen injured 10 other people, including Speier, who sustained five gunshot wounds.
By the time the airstrip gunmen returned to Jonestown, Jones had gathered his people in the pavilion and had begun preparing them for the end. He used news of Ryan’s shooting to convince the throng that they had no hope, no future, no place to go. “The congressman has been murdered!” he said. “Please get the medication before it’s too late. Don’t be afraid to die.”