Learned – And Yet To Learn
chilling law enforcement activities became public last week with two very
similar themes, but very different outcomes. The theme is harming
schoolchildren. One outcome, one lone shooter,
is detailed in a report from the State’s Attorney for the
Judicial District of Danbury on the Shootings At Sandy Hook Elementary
School in Newtown and the other is the arrest of a Fairfield man after
alerting police last month that he may act on his urge to harm school
Russo was admitted to St. Vincent’s Medical Center last month after
alerting police of his urge to harm children. Upon his release, police
arrested Russo on a warrant with first-degree threatening and threatening
an act of terrorism. He was held on a $75,000 bond. According to news
reports, Fairfield Deputy Chief Chris Lyddy and Chief Gary MacNamara
defended the department’s decision to arrest Russo with MacNamara noting
the importance in getting Russo “the help that he needs.” He also
added the importance in seeing “an individual with these problems
re-integrates into society the safest way possible. The criminal justice
system has the mechanism at their disposal,” he said.
reportedly said “that people that commit terrible crimes leak
information in almost every case, and there’s nothing different
here…He leaked information consistent with cases we’ve seen across the
to reports, Russo’s parents contacted police in 2012 because they were
concerned about a person their son “was spending time with and because
of his “diminished mental capacity.”
who reads the state attorney’s report of the Newtown massacre in which
20 first graders and six educators along with the shooter Adam Lanza’s
mother were murdered, can see that 20-year-old
Lanza leaked information throughout his bedroom, computer room and by his
collection of guns – all bought legally by his
mother – video games – and solitary life. In addition, law
enforcement discovered photocopied newspaper articles from 1891 pertaining
to the shooting of school children, a New York Times article from Feb. 18,
2008 regarding the school shooting at Northern Illinois University; three
photographs of what appear to be a dead human, covered in blood and
wrapped in plastic.
report states that “a review of electronic evidence or digital media
that appeared to belong to the shooter, revealed that the shooter had a
preoccupation with mass shootings, in particular the Columbine shootings
and a strong interest in firearms. Lanza kept a spreadsheet with mass
murders over the years listing information about each shooting.
lived alone with his mother. His
brother four years older, lived in New Jersey. His parents had separated
in 2001 and subsequently divorced a few years later. He saw his father
regularly until he turned 18. His father last saw his son in 2010 for his
son stopped responding to his requests to see him.
report notes that “shooting was a pastime in which the family engaged.
The mother had grown up with firearms and had a pistol permit. The shooter
did not. Mother and son took National Rifle Association safety courses and
engaged in target practice.
report notes in detail Lanza’s mental health issues but states that it
is unknown what contribution, if any, the shooter’s mental health issues
made to his attack on Sandy Hook. Those mental health professionals who
saw him did not see anything what would have predicted his future
can’t help but think about Lyddy’s comment that “people who commit
terrible crimes leak information in almost every case.”
compiling the report, officials conducted interviews with friends,
acquaintances and family members including Peter Lanza, the shooter’s
father, a tax director for the energy and finance division of General
Electric in Stamford. Incidentally, GE has donated $15 million to Newtown
to build a community center for reportedly it has more than 150 employees
who live in the town.
report does not specifically attribute information to specific people.
Peter Lanza has not spoken publicly. He has a spokesperson relay comments
to inquiring news media. At the request of one of the victims’s parents,
Alissa and Robbie Parker, he did agree to meet with them. The couple told
CBS reporter Nora O’Donnell that the father held “the key”
to gaining from the tragedy.”
Lanza has a responsibility to come forward and publicly address his
perspective as Adam’s father. Did
he not know the detailed solitary life his son was leading in which prior
to his suicide only commuicated with his mother through email? Did he not
know his son’s fascination with school shootings? Did he take any active
role in trying to help his son in recent years or address the fact that in
his ex-wife’s attempt to support her son’s interest in guns she only
fueled his demented thinking. Some mental health professionals praise the
mother for doing what she could with limited support to care for her
son’s physical well-being, but did she realize the toll on his mental
I praise the Russo family for coming forward and for the manner in which the Fairfield police reportedly averted another Sandy Hook tragedy. We cannot change what has happened and we cannot bring peace to the families ripped apart by the tragedy, but we must learn from it.
Lanza has an obligation to speak publicly to answer questions, especially
from parents trying their best to avert tragedies. How many live or have
lived with family members who we know are ticking bombs.
is still so much to know about the Sandy Hook tragedy and more information
should be made public.
Rita Papazian is a freelance writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright 2013 Rita Papazian All rights reserved.