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School Climate & Safety

Father of Newtown Gunman Still Searches for Answers

By Evie Blad — March 11, 2014 1 min read

Since Adam Lanza shot and killed 28 people, including himself, on Dec. 14, 2012, public officials have hoped a more thorough understanding of his mental health and background would provide new insights into what motivates school shooters. Lanza’s father, Peter Lanza, is also searching for answers, he said in a lengthy New Yorker magazine piece, but his motivation is understanding how his own son could commit such acts.

Peter hadn't seen his son for two years at the time of the Sandy Hook killings, and, even with hindsight, he doesn't think that the catastrophe could have been predicted. But he constantly thinks about what he could have done differently and wishes he had pushed harder to see Adam. 'Any variation on what I did and how my relationship was had to be good, because no outcome could be worse,' he said. Another time, he said, 'You can't get any more evil,' and added, 'How much do I beat up on myself about the fact that he's my son? A lot.' "

Peter Lanza quit displaying his son’s photo, the piece reveals, because it was too painful to see it in his home. He described Adam as a “weird kid” who was not open to therapy and who drifted away from his father in the years before the shootings.

Adam was a fan of Ron Paul, and liked to argue economic theory. He became fascinated with guns and with the Second World War, and showed an interest in joining the military. But he never talked about mass murder, and he wasn't violent at school. He seldom revealed his emotions, but had a sharp sense of humor. When Peter took him to see Bill Cosby live, Adam laughed for an hour straight. He loved reruns of "The Bob Newhart Show" and "Get Smart," which he would watch with his dad. One Christmas, Adam told his parents that he wanted to use his savings to buy toys for needy children, and Peter took him shopping for them."

Answers about the shooting have been hard to come by. State investigators, after hours of interviews and exploration, concluded that Adam Lanza’s motive could not be determined. The New Yorker piece is definitely worth a read. It adds new facets to the conversation, even if it doesn’t provide definitive answers.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.