The father of the gunman who took the lives of 20 students and six educators is speaking publicly for the first time in a 7,600-word article published today in The New Yorker.
Peter Lanza, who hadn’t spoken to his son Adam for two years before the shooting, opened up to author Andrew Solomon in September.
Mr. Lanza, a vice president for GE Energy Financial Services, was divorced from Adam’s mother Nancy, who Adam killed before he drove to the school and took the lives of 26 students and educators on Dec. 14, 2012. Lanza has largely avoided the press, but as the first anniversary of his son’s rampage approach, he contacted Solomon.
The two met six times for interviews that lasted up to seven hours, according to a press release.
What Mr. Lanza told Solomon is shocking.
“You can’t get any more evil. How much do I beat up on myself about the fact that he’s my son? A lot,” Mr. Lanza told Solomon.
According to Solomon, “The only reason Lanza was talking to anyone, including me, was to share information that might help the families or prevent another such event.” Mr. Lanza tells Solomon, “I need to get some good from this. And there’s no place else to find any good.”
But as much as he was trying to provide answers for Solomon and the victims’ families, he was also trying to get them.
According to Solomon, Mr. Lanza came to their meetings as much to ask questions as to answer them. “I want people to be afraid of the fact that this could happen to them,” Mr. Lanza says.
Mr. Lanza has also been cooperating with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Sandy Hook Commission, which is looking to compile a report that includes recommendations on how to prevent such a tragedy from occurring in the future.
Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson, who chairs the commission, said that he met with Mr. Lanza in a public location in Stamford in January. At that meeting, Jackson said Mr. Lanza expressed his desire to help the commission get the necessary medical and educational reports it believes it needs to complete its analysis.
Some of the information about the Mr. Lanza’s attempts to get their son help were revealed in thousands of pages of police reports.
It is well-known that Adam was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, but in his interview with Solomon, Mr. Lanza reveals that it may have “veiled a contaminant” that was not Asperger’s. “I was thinking it could mask schizophrenia,” Mr. Lanza said.
According to Solomon’s article, Adam would not accept the diagnosis and also was resistant to therapy.
“He did not want to talk about problems and didn’t even admit he had Asperger’s,” Mr. Lanza says. Mr. Lanza and Nancy were confident enough in the diagnosis that they didn’t look for other explanations for Adam’s behavior. “In that sense, Asperger’s may have distracted them from whatever else was amiss,” Solomon writes. “If he had been a totally normal adolescent and he was well adjusted and then all of a sudden went into isolation, alarms would go off,” Mr. Lanza says. “But let’s keep in mind that you expect Adam to be weird.”
Mr. Lanza, who had been divorced from Nancy since 2009, remains convinced that if he were there that day that he too would have been killed.
“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.” Solomon asked Mr. Lanza what they’d done about a funeral for Adam. “No one knows that,” Mr. Lanza says. “And no one ever will.”
For Mr. Lanza, the anniversary of the massacre itself felt insignificant. “It’s not like I ever go an hour when it doesn’t cross my mind,” he tells Solomon. He has offered to meet with the victims’ families, and two have taken up his offer. “It’s gut-wrenching,” Mr. Lanza says.
“A victim’s family member told me that they forgave Adam after we spent three hours talking. I didn’t even know how to respond. A person that lost their son, their only son,” Mr. Lanza tells Solomon.
Solomon has also interviewed Tom and Sue Klebold, whose son Dylan was one of the perpetrators of the Columbine massacre.
Click here to watch Solomon’s interview Monday morning on the Today Show.