Adam Lanza's Father Gives Interview, Says Son "Would Have Killed Me in a Heartbeart"
Sandy Hook elementary school shooter Adam Lanza's father, Peter Lanza, has spoken out for the first time since his son's lethal attack, which killed 20 children, six staff members, and Adam's mother Nancy. In an interview with The New Yorker, the senior Lanza reflects on his son's childhood, his mental health, and his ultimate, grisly crime, coming to a firm conclusion: that he wishes his son had never been born. It's been over a full year since the Dec. 14, 2012 elementary school shooting, a shattering tragedy for the people of Newtown, Conn., which reverberated throughout American society.
Lanza, vice president of General Electric Financial Services, divorced Adam's mother Nancy in 2010, and hadn't seen his son for two years prior to the attack. It's this to which he credits his life, saying that if he'd still been in the picture, he believes his son would have killed him too:
With hindsight, I know Adam would have killed me in a heartbeat, if he’d had the chance. I don’t question that for a minute. The reason he shot Nancy four times was one for each of us: one for Nancy; one for him; one for [his brother] Ryan; one for me.
Lanza has now come to believe, in addition to his son's diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, that he could have suffered from undiagnosed schizophrenia, though there's no way to say for sure – Adam Lanza killed himself following the shooting, and the desperate attempts to patch together some kind of understanding or motive for the crime have proven somewhat speculative.
The public can thirst for answers in the aftermath of a huge tragedy — the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 cast a similar shadow in the American consciousness, for example — but sometimes the desire can obscure harder questions of journalistic merit and accuracy. In the case of the Columbine shooting, myriad reported aspects of the story that many accepted as fact turned out to be untrue (like the "Trench Coat Mafia" that the shooters reportedly belonged to).
Even as regards to the fresher nightmare at Sandy Hook, the quest for understanding has led down some rather exploitive avenues. The recent unearthing of a purported recording of Adam Lanza talking on a radio call-in show, in particular, demonstrated no real journalistic relevance, simply an unsettling reminder of the time when a mentally ill young man committed an unspeakable crime.
Peter Lanza's interview, which is in-depth and worthwhile, is in every sense the antithesis of that — it's a wrenchingly personal story, about his son, his family, and the experiences he feels led to that fateful end. But for the broader media, there is a worthwhile question to be asked: When does digging up more information about a deceased mass-killer become less about understanding the event than it is about unsettling people for dramatic effect?