The Sandy Hook Massacre, One Year Later – A Closed Case Without Many Answers

The Sandy Hook Massacre, One Year Later – A Closed Case Without Many Answers

The State’s Attorney’s office in Danbury, CT, officially closed the case on the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary on November 25th, and released a pdf of its final report on the case.  It is a terrible and heartbreaking read.  For all the speculation and media reports flying around on Facebook, Twitter, and television that lasted for hours and hours on December 14, 2012, the reality is that less than eleven minutes elapsed from the point when the shooter, Adam Lanza, shot out the doors of Sandy Hook Elementary School, to the moment he ended it with a bullet through his brain.

Much was made in the days and weeks after the massacre about Lanza’s mental health, and his diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome (which has now been officially folded into the autism spectrum), and what responsibility his mother, who he murdered before heading to the elementary school, ought to bear.  As the mother of a son on the autism spectrum, I followed the developments and the revelations, looking to see what got turned up during the course of the investigation.

While the State’s Attorney’s report is reluctant to assign blame to anyone other than Lanza, it is clear that as he got older (he was 20 at the time of the shooting), he had become increasingly anti-social and reclusive.  Pages 29 -35 of the report detail his home life, relationships with his family members, and his rather unremarkable school career.  Other than one questionable video report in fifth grade, that may never have been handed in to the school, the conclusion is that:

Those mental health professionals who saw him did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior.

And that is the crux of the matter.  What Nancy Lanza’s responsibility was in this can and will be endlessly debated (all the guns used were legally owned by her, she taught him to shoot and had him take NRA safety courses, she enabled his behaviors), what Adam Lanza did should probably be best characterized as a lightning strike.  You may see storm clouds gathering.  You may feel the wind pick up.  But when the lightning begins to strike, there is no one on earth who can predict where it will hit.

Lightning struck Nancy Lanza first, at the hand of the son she had so desperately tried to draw out, defend, enable, and help.  A new book by reporter Matthew Lysiak, Newtown: An American Tragedy, which was just released this week, apparently tries to sift through more of what Nancy Lanza did or didn’t do to prevent what happened.  According to the review in USA Today, “Lysiak concludes that most of the “what ifs” fall on Nancy Lanza.”

The storm that had been brewing for a long time then struck at Sandy Hook, taking the lives of 20 innocent children and 6 dedicated adults who died trying to defend them.

One minute after the first police officer arrived on the scene, the storm ended as violently as it began, with a bullet in the shooter’s head.

Those who could have given us motive are dead.  We will never have the answers to the questions that would satisfy those who suffered losses that day, or even satisfy the media, or either side of the gun lobby, or special needs parents like me, many of whom had to deal with ignorant people in the days after Sandy Hook, who assumed that any autistic child would someday just snap and be capable of these atrocities.

A year has passed, and nothing has really changed.  The pro and anti-gun lobby have raised record amounts of money, but neither side can actually point and say that something was changed.  Deep down, the sad truth is that no law can stop a lightning strike.  Pages 40 and 41 of the report list off the crimes that were committed that day in Newtown.  There are already laws against every single one of those crimes.  Adam Lanza did not care about those laws.  We are horrified and devastated at the deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary, but the dominoes all began to fall when Adam killed his own mother.  He murdered the one person who loved him the most and had tried the most to help him.  If he was willing to kill the one person who had cared and provided for him his entire life, should we really be surprised that he was also willing to kill complete strangers?

The families of the victims have asked that the media keep away and let them grieve in their own way on this sad day.  May the memories of their loved ones continue to be an inspiration and a blessing, both now and forevermore.

And may the name of Adam Lanza be blotted out for all eternity.

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  • Jodi Giddings says:

    Beautiful, Deanna. Thank you for this.

  • GWB says:

    Deep down, the sad truth is that no law can stop a lightning strike.

    This is so very true. And it’s true for all those things that strike our lives – all those things that some people insist that laws and regulations and helmets and pads and airbags and soda regulations and everything else can stop.

    This is the peace that comes from understanding the fundamental premise of conservatism: man and the world are fallen, and (since you aren’t God) you can’t change that. You can’t change it with money; you can’t change it with education; you can’t change it with regulations or laws. Therefore – and here’s the peaceful part – you live your lives to the fullest, aware that any breath might be your last (or it might be the last of your children or spouse). And, you trust in the only One who can do anything about it, that He will keep you until the appointed time, and that no matter how unfair it seems, that He will make something good out of it.

    This doesn’t mean you sit back and ‘chive on’. You still do things like teach your kids to be safe, wear your seatbelt, pack heat when necessary, and never let yourself become a slave to any man or institution. But your assurance isn’t in Colt or the Constitution – it’s in the One above who made you and redeemed you and will one day bring you home. The rest are just tools he’s given us for living here in this time.

  • And yet those who desire control will tell you that the only solution is a loss of freedom.

  • Thank you for your post, Deanna.

    I have a son who has been diagnosed with autism. I was not aware that Adam Lanza had Asperger’s Syndrome, since the news reports of the murders focused almost exclusively (obsessively?) on the guns themselves.

    You are correct in saying that we will never know why Lanza did what he did. Nor will we ever be able to prevent such incidents as the Sandy Hook 100% of the time. But too many “journalists” have a stark, simplistic worldview that seeks to exploit incidents of mass murder like the Sandy Hook Massacre for political gain. They will never be content to give the public the facts; they want to direct them to the “correct” conclusions, even if it means lying and distortion. The goal of gun control justifies the means, or so they believe.

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