Criminal Justice

Father of gunman in Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre talks about his 'evil' son

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In his most extensive public comments since his son shot 26 people to death at a Connecticut elementary school in 2012, the father of Adam Lanza talked about him to The New Yorker in a series of interviews—at one point saying that he wishes Adam had never been born. “You can’t get any more evil,” Lanza said at one point. He said he believes his son would have killed him, too, if there had been an opportunity to do so before he committed suicide.

Adam Lanza also shot his mother to death at the home they shared shortly before the slayings of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Adam didn’t speak until he was 3 years old, was hypersensitive to touch and had been diagnosed with a form of autism at age 13. However, Asperger’s syndrome is not ordinarily linked to violent attacks, and Peter Lanza says he believes the autism diagnosis helped mask more serious problems that developed as his son grew older, perhaps including schizophrenia, according to the New Yorker article. It was in the March 17 issue of the magazine, which was published Sunday.

The youth enjoyed elementary school but found changing classes in middle school difficult because of the sensory overload, the New Yorker reported. He began having panic attacks, and ultimately his parents decided to home-school him.

“It was crystal clear something was wrong,” said Peter Lanza, an accountant who works for a major corporation as a tax executive, told the magazine. “The social awkwardness, the uncomfortable anxiety, unable to sleep, stress, unable to concentrate, having a hard time learning, the awkward walk, reduced eye contact. You could see the changes occurring.”

Adam Lanza was diagnosed in 2006 with profound autism spectrum disorder, the Associated Press reported but he was resistant to the diagnosis and refused to take medication because of its side effects. Although he was fascinated by guns, his parents perceived him as nonviolent. Nancy and Peter Lanza continued to cooperate in their son’s parenting, both before and after their 2009 divorce. Meanwhile, Adam Lanza, as he neared adulthood, became more isolated and began communicating with his mother only through email. He refused in his final years to have any dealings with his father.

The “why” of Adam Lanza’s crimes likely is a question that will never be answered, the magazine says, although his DNA is being sequenced to try to determine if there is any biological explanation.

Forensic psychiatrist James Knoll,of the State University of New York offered perhaps as good an explanation as anyone, the New Yorker says, interpreting the message of Adam Lanza’s attack as: “I carry profound hurt—I’ll go ballistic and transfer it onto you.”

The Hartford Courant, Reuters and USA Today all have stories about the New Yorker piece.

See also: “Sandy Hook school shooting report calls Lanza obsessed with mass murder, says he acted alone”

Washington Post (opinion): “Should the New Yorker have profiled Peter Lanza?”

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