Adam Lanza's dad: He would have killed me, too

10:27 AM, Mar 10, 2014   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) -- The father of Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter who killed his mother, himself and 26 other people in 2012, says in his first public remarks on the tragedy that he is sure 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," Peter Lanza tells the New Yorker in a profile published Sunday.

Lanza, noting that 20-year-old Adam had shot his mother Nancy four times, says he believes that was "one for each of us: one for Nancy; one for him; one for Ryan; one for me." Ryan is Peter's other son, who is older than Adam.

The author of the article, Andrew Solomon, writes that Peter Lanza approached him last year as the anniversary of the Dec. 14 shootings approached and met him six times for long interviews.

Lanza says he had not seen his son for two years at the time of the shootings and still does not think the tragedy could have been predicted.

"Any variation on what I did and how my relationship was had to be good, because no outcome could be worse," he says.

At another point, he says, "You can't get any more evil," adding "How much do I beat up on myself about the fact that he's my son? A lot."

Lanza, who had divorced Adam's mother in 2009, says his son began to change during middle school, when he quit playing the saxophone, stopped climbing trees, avoided eye contact, and developed a stiff, lumbering gait.

"It was crystal clear something was wrong," he says. "The social awkwardness, the uncomfortable anxiety, unable to sleep, stress, unable to concentrate, having a hard time learning, the awkward walk, reduced eye contact. You could see the changes occurring."

Peter, who at one point told the New Yorker that he wishes Adam had never been born, says he had offered to meet families of the victims and that two had taken up his offer.

"It's gut-wrenching," he tells the magazine. "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.

The timing of the New Yorker interview was not right for at least some residents of Newtown, which is trying to move forward after the one-year anniversary of the shootings on Dec. 12.

Newtown lawyer Monte Frank says he "cringed" this morning when he saw news of the interview on television. Frank is in Pennsylvania, one of 26 cyclists en route 400 miles from Newtown to Washington to unite communities to make "our streets safer and put an end to the gun-violence epidemic."

Newtown "is trying to heal, move forward and work towards peace, hope and love," Frank says. "For this story to come out 15 months after the unspeakable tragedy, only serves as an another reminder of that horrible day and raises questions as to why now."

Frank says he would have preferred the story hadn't been written.

He says he hopes it doesn't turn the spotlight away from the 2nd Annual Sandy Hook Ride on Washington, which is expected to end Tuesday with rallies at the Washington National Cathedral and the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

"Our ride is no longer about Newtown but is now America's ride," Frank says. "We ride united with big cities and one-traffic light towns across the nation to reduce gun violence. America needs to stop fixating on the details of a murderer and his family but instead focus on how Americans rise from the ashes to build bridges and come together as one for positive change."

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