6 Misconceptions About the Sandy Hook Massacre Debunked by Prosecutor's Report
Today, nearly a year after Adam Lanza murdered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the state's attorney managing the investigation of the massacre, Steven Sedensky, issued a report that refutes or casts doubt on several theories about Lanza and his horrifying crimes. A few highlights:
1. Did Lanza have a grudge against the school?
"The shooter indicated that he loved the school and liked to go there….As best as can be determined, the shooter had no prior contact with anyone in the school that day. And, apart from having attended the school as a child, he appears to have had no continuing involvement with SHES….The evidence clearly shows that the shooter planned his actions, including the taking of his own life, but there is no clear indication why he did so, or why he targeted Sandy Hook Elementary School."
2. Did mental illness make him do it?
"The shooter had significant mental health issues that affected his ability to live a normal life and to interact with others [including social awkwardness and a lack of empathy that his mother described as Asperger syndrome]….What contribution this made to the shootings, if any, is unknown….The shooter's mental status is no defense to his conduct as the evidence shows he knew his conduct to be against the law. He had the ability to control his behavior to obtain the results he wanted, including his own death."
3. Could he have been stopped if only people had paid attention to warning signs?
"Those mental health professionals who saw him did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior….[Investigators] have not discovered any evidence that the shooter voiced or gave any indication to others that he intended to commit such a crime…[In high school,] he was not known to be a violent kid at all and never spoke of violence….Despite a fascination with mass shootings and firearms, he displayed no aggressive or threatening tendencies."
4. Did obsessive playing of violent video games warp his mind?"
"He played video games often, both solo at home and online. They could be described as both violent and non-violent. One person described the shooter as spending the majority of his time playing non-violent video games all day, with his favorite at one point being 'Super Mario Brothers.'…The shooter liked to play a game called 'Dance Dance Revolution' (DDR)….He regularly went to the area of a theater that had a commercial version of the DDR game in the lobby. In 2011 and up until a month before December 14, 2012, the shooter went to the theater and played the game. He went most every Friday through Sunday and played the game for four to ten hours."
5. What about drugs?
"No drugs were found in the shooter's system….Reportedly the shooter did not drink alcohol, take drugs, prescription or otherwise, and hated the thought of doing any of those things."
6. Could a better background check system for gun buyers have stopped him?
"All of the firearms were legally purchased by the shooter's mother. Additionally, ammunition of the types found had been purchased by the mother in the past, and there is no evidence that the ammunition was purchased by anyone else, including the shooter."