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Crime United States News

Adam Lanza Destroyed His Computer Before Rampage 1719

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Here's some breaking news I saw MSNBC this morning that I haven't seen reported anywhere in the print media yet. NBC reporter Pete Williams reported on Chuck Todd's The Daily Rundown that (police) 'had been hopeful that they could extract some information from the computer at (Lanza's) home. He was very into computers. Before he left his mother's house on the morning that he shot his mother while she was sleeping, he damaged extensively his computer. He took the hard drive out, pulled the disk out, and did a lot of damage to it,' said Williams. 'It's not clear that (police) are going to be able to extract any information or not.' It has previously been reported that Lanza left no online footprint. Police had been eager to examine Lanza's computer in hopes of determining a motive in his killings or finding records of purchases of firearms and ammunition. 'If he visited certain websites, they are going to glean whatever information they can from that and see what it means,' said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly. 'Does he have friends he communicates with online? Was there a fight with somebody?'"
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Adam Lanza Destroyed His Computer Before Rampage

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:04PM (#42316811)

    Look at the motive of the police; the more they know about his mind(they obviously aren't doing this to try to catch him or his accomplices) the more they are going to go after anyone else with the same symptoms (this can be a good and bad thing). Expect a lot to come from this about how wrong/dangerous it is to be an "off the grid" loner.

  • Re:Whatever (Score:5, Informative)

    by The MAZZTer ( 911996 ) <> on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:09PM (#42316887) Homepage

    That's funny, everything I've heard says the ONLY WAY to be completely sure your data is wiped is to physically destroy the disk.

    Of course it wouldn't hurt to do a software-based wipe first, and who says he didn't?

  • by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:12PM (#42316927)

    Yup... Encrypting your drives with a hammer generally keeps away all bit the most dedicated spooks.

    Sad thing is that the kid probably didn't have many friends. And they were probably Bronies... Can't let THAT get out! Maybe he was after elementry kids because their parents were getting the show in trouble.

    He probably made random rants, but I don't think they'll find much. Other than a bunch of AC guy posts 90% of people would write off as childish. As this goes deeper, I think he's just an extremely lonely kid, extremely disconnected from society. The top end of the ASD spectrum kids KNOW they don't fit in... And they get REALLY mad about it... But they still cannot do it without extensive help, if ever. Something triggered the kid and he took the most extreme route he could... That screams ASD with no training to deal with it. He just picked something extremely violent and went for it. Maybe he fixated on it, but typically not really.

    The only person with warning signs would have been his mom.. He didn't interact with anybody else?? . And she obviously overlooked the violence escalating till it was too late. I'll bet if they look we over she has old bruises from outbursts... But she never told.

  • by Talderas ( 1212466 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:23PM (#42317079)

    He didn't purchase any of the guns he used so a background check wouldn't matter. The purchaser and owner of all the weapons was his mother.

  • by Jaborandy ( 96182 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:27PM (#42317127)
    When I want to physically destroy my hard drives, I use bullets. Here's why it works:

    The surface of the platters is covered in magnetic data, but in order to read it you have to be able to pass a head over it. If you bend the platters, put a few jagged holes in them, and destroy the bearing center, there is no technology that can run a read head reliably over a data track. If the platters are bent, you can't install them in a new drive or mount new heads. You also can't flatten them to the original tolerances without destroying the magnetic surface coating.

    The biggest hand-waving magic people fear is the electon microscope techinques which have been shown to dig up even erased data by looking at the edges of the latest written data to see what was there before. While this is technically possible in ideal conditions, it requires that you can move the platter under the tip of the microscope with incredible precision. Without the platters in perfect physical shape, you'd risk destroying the electron microscope's fragile tip.

    Pistol rounds generally dent the platters pretty seriously. Rifle rounds generally punch through leaving jagged holes. A combination of both is a fun day at the range, makes great desk art, and securely pretects your drives from ever being decoded again.

  • by medcalf ( 68293 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:28PM (#42317135) Homepage
    Well, since any firearm can be used to shoot people dead, let's just talk about how easy it is to buy any firearm. For most firearms for most people in most places, fairly easy. For any firearms for any person with a criminal background or mental illness (to a much lesser extent, as this is usually not reported), pretty difficult to get one legally, but no more difficult to get one illegally than anywhere else. For certain types of firearms (automatic weapons, for example, or crew served weapons), it ranges from very difficult to impossible (legally) for anyone. For certain places, such as Chicago, NYC or Washington DC, it's pretty hard for anyone to get any weapon. Of course, those are also the places with the highest gun violence rates. Odd, that.
  • by erotic_pie ( 796522 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:28PM (#42317141) Homepage
    He wasn't the one that purchased the weapons though, he stole them from his mother. All the laws and wait periods in the world wouldn't have stopped him from stealing them from a law abiding citizen.
  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) * on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:33PM (#42317207)

    YI ask because I do not know - how easy / difficult is it for an adult in the US to buy a gun / rifle / whatever that can be used to shoot people dead?

    It is easy. Here is the algorithm:
    1. Get money.
    2. Go to store.
    3. Buy gun.
    4. Depending on the state, you may need to wait up to 30 days to pick up your gun and take it home.

    The seller is required to do an instant background check to make sure you have no criminal record. This only takes a few minutes.

    About half of American homes have at least one gun.

    I own a Remington 870 pump action shotgun, and an AR-15 assault rifle. I haven't fired the shotgun in over a decade, and the ammo I have is probably too stale to work reliably. I fire the AR-15 annually, and replace all the ammo so that it is fresh. If I have to defend my family (or join in an insurrection) the AR-15 is definitely my weapon of choice because it is functionally identical to an M-16 except for the full auto mode, and I had extensive experience with M-16s during a former employment.

    I do not own a handgun, and I never will. There are not safe, especially around kids (I have two), and would be less effective than a rifle in almost any defensive scenario.

  • Stop watching Fox (Score:5, Informative)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:39PM (#42317327) Journal

    Seriously kid, stop watching fox, your bain is rotting away. Australia and Europe both got lower crime rates.

  • Re:Whatever (Score:5, Informative)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:42PM (#42317371)

    The fact that he tried to physically destroy things means he isn't nearly as smart as they want us to believe. They'll get quite a bit of it back. And more than likely will be able to get a pretty good profile of him by sequestering logs from various services, be it ISP, Xbox Live, etc.

    Ah, no, they will get nothing back.

    There is a huge myth [] around data recovery from physically damaged hard disk drives that all stems from an article written by Peter Gutmann as a research paper.
    In the real world (Even the NSA's real world) this can not be done [].

    They have a much better chance of getting something back from the nvram in a cell phone uses as a clay pigeon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:44PM (#42317403)

    Source? Everything I have seen shows the opposite. Gun crime has been virtually eliminated in these countries.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:44PM (#42317405)

    I wouldn't say lots. This is 5(?) major incidents in the past few years... 5 / 300 million == insignificant% of the population.

  • by DarkTempes ( 822722 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:46PM (#42317429)
    I agree a lot with your post except for that leading statistic.

    2009 Cause of death stats by the CDC:
    Accidental discharge of firearms: 554
    Intentional self-harm (suicide) by discharge of firearms: 18,735
    Assault (homicide) by discharge of firearms: 11,493
    Total: 30782

    That's 16% less than "over 100 a day" and nowhere near even third splits
    A less misleading and sensationalist introduction would be "about 31 people died a day from gun-related homicides."

    I honestly don't see guns involved in suicides as an issue as people that want to kill themselves are going to find ways to do it.
    The number we obviously need to work on is the 11.5k gun homicides, especially when you compare us to other countries.
  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:52PM (#42317537) Homepage Journal

    Over a hundred people die from firearms every day in America. Roughly about 1/3 accidents, 1/3 suicides, and 1/3 deliberate homicides.

    No, it's more like 50% suicides and 50% homicides. Accidents constitute less than 2% of the total (~600 accidental firearm deaths per year of ~30,000 firearm deaths, per the CDC) and are declining every year.

    As for what we can do, here are some ideas:

    To tackle suicides, the solution isn't to disarm the suicidal -- after all, someone who wants to kill themselves has many, many options -- but to address the root cause of nearly all suicides: mental illness. Better focus on mental health could probably help to reduce mass murders as well, by getting these people help -- or else determining that it's not safe to have them on the streets, in the event that we don't know how to help them. A big mental health awareness ad campaign, perhaps based on the Ad Council approach used to attack drugs (though hopefully with much more success, since it'll be a positive message rather than scare tactics), could be used to reduce the stigma of mental illness and encourage people to get treatment, and more funding of mental health research would also be extremely productive.

    To tackle homicides, I think the biggest single thing we could do is to end the war on drugs. The majority of gun homicides are criminal-on-criminal murders, and nearly all of them are related to gang violence and the illegal drug trade. Our war on drugs is pumping tens of billions of dollars annually into the criminal underground, and essentially funding all of this violence. If drugs were legalized and regulated, the money would instead be flowing through corporations, which fight their battles with lawsuits and advertising campaigns rather than guns. In the short term, we'd probably see an uptick in violence as all of the suddenly-destitute criminal organizations sought frantically for another lucrative line of business (this is exactly what happened when prohibition was ended, BTW, the gang violence of the 30s was from people whose illegal liquor business had suddenly disappeared), but violence should decline dramatically afterwards.

    There are plenty of other things we can do, I'm sure, but these would be a very good start. If you also want to work on reducing the already-low rate of accidental firearm deaths, education is the key. The NRA has some great educational materials targeted at kids, including the Eddie Eagle program which focuses on teaching younger kids that guns are dangerous and that they should 1) stop, 2) don't touch, 3) leave the area and 4) tell a responsible adult, if they find a gun or ammunition, and another program aimed at older kids to teach them how to safely and responsibly handle firearms. Getting some basic firearms education added to the public school curriculum would do more to reduce accidental firearms deaths than anything else, I think.

    (For anyone turned off by my mention of the NRA, please consider that the NRA consists of two organizations, a firearms training and education organization which is undeniably excellent and completely uncontroversial, and a political organization which is... not uncontroversial).

  • by coldfarnorth ( 799174 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:58PM (#42317635)

    Can you please cite some data?

    I've only looked around for a minute or two, and here's what I've got:
      * The US had roughly 3 gun murders per 100 000 population in one year. (Data from 2008 - 2010)
      * The UK had 0.04 per 100 000 population (2011)
      * Australia had 0.09 per 100 000 (2008)

    The (gun) murder rate in the US is 7.5 times larger than in the UK, and more than 3 times larger than in Australia. This would tend not to support your point. Since you mentioned crime, I did not cite the Suicide and Accidental Death numbers, but they make the US look even worse.

    Incidentally, the country with the highest gun homicide rate in the EU (that I could find data for on short notice) was Luxemburg - 0.6 gun murders per 100 000 population (2009). The US gun homicide rate is 5 times larger . . .

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @05:01PM (#42317665)

    You can own a tank. You can't drive an unmodified tank on the streets because of the damage caused to the street.

  • Re:Whatever (Score:5, Informative)

    by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @05:02PM (#42317699)

    Gutmann's paper is actually the basis for the myth that you can recover data from a logically-wiped drive: that is, one that's been entirely overwritten with other data (e.g. zeroes).

    That, too, cannot be done.

  • by pastafazou ( 648001 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @05:17PM (#42317915)
    “Guns aren’t even the most lethal mass murder weapon. According to data compiled by Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, guns killed an average of 4.92 victims per mass murder in the United States during the 20th century, just edging out knives, blunt objects, and bare hands, which killed 4.52 people per incident. Fire killed 6.82 people per mass murder, while explosives far outpaced the other options at 20.82. Of the 25 deadliest mass murders in the 20th century, only 52 percent involved guns. The U.S. mass murder rate does not seem to rise or fall with the availability of automatic weapons. It reached its highest level in 1929, when fully automatic firearms were expensive and mostly limited to soldiers and organized criminals.”
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @05:29PM (#42318073) Homepage Journal

    And what's with this view that being able to shoot someone who wrongs you is better than the tiny risk of being robbed? Seriously? People with that view are exactly who I don't want having weapons anywhere near me.

    I DO want to be able to shoot someone that is trying to rob me...

    Any criminal in my house that has broken in, is fair game.

  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @06:48PM (#42319117) Homepage Journal

    And that's why Asperger's was eliminated in the DSM-V.

    The new DSM is problematic, just as the last one was. Yes, it's certainly possible to abuse it. But the psychiatrists really are trying to help people, and they're just beginning to explore a difficult new field.

    The range of human behavior is far, far more variable and intricate than any protein or subatomic particle. A century ago the science was nonexistent, then barbaric, then more harmful than helpful. Now occasionally it does more good than harm. If you don't like your shrink, get a new one. But rejecting the whole profession is just... well, paranoid.

    The DSM was not concocted as part of a plot to lock people up. Its goal is to help. It may not, and that's why there's a DSM-6 already in the works. That's how science works.

  • A columnist at the CBC has a good article [] on how many Canadians feel about the USA's attitude towards guns and these horrible tragedies.

  • by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:22PM (#42320753)

    At the same time a crazy Chinese guy stabbed 23 primary school children at school. [] None died.

    You know, it's damn hard to kill someone with a knife. The areas that cause someone to die instantly are quite small and take a fair bit of force to stab, most people do not have the strength or dexterity to do that. Knife murders usually rely on the victim being alone and bleeding out, all it takes is pressure on a stab wound and it will bleed slowly enough for help to arrive in time. Unless one is some form of stabbing virtuoso that practices every day with a bayonet dummy, the idea that one can lunge at a crowd of people and fatally wound even one of them is somewhat optimistic.

    I am still totally perplexed as to why rational thinking people could consider a law giving the right to bear arms, written in the days where arms meant sabres, brown bess muskets and the occasional long rifle (half a century before the invention of the Minié ball or rotating bolt) entitles them to buy AR-15 rifles and automatic handguns.

  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:29PM (#42320811) Journal

    China school knife attack leaves 23 injured

    ..Sandy Hook Elementary school, which took the lives of 20 children and seven adults, including the shooter's mother.

    Are you telling me you don't see the difference in those two incidents?

  • Re:*confused (Score:3, Informative)

    by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:40PM (#42320919)

    Because the .22 calibre rifles and handguns used by this shooter are NOT "rediculously powerful firearms."

    Seriously. They are target practice rounds, that are useless agains even the softest of bullet resisting armors.

    Here, here's a picture for you to mull over:
    size comparison of several standardized rounds []

    See that little pipsqueek on the far right? That's what comes out of the "assault rifle" the killer from this story used. It is literally the size of 3 BBs glued together, with a few grams of powder behind it. Cartridge and all, it weighs less then 20 grams.

    Compare that with the REAL assault rifle rounds on the far left, and you have a better idea of why this is a farce.

  • by danlip ( 737336 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @01:19AM (#42322209)

    I am still totally perplexed as to why rational thinking people could consider a law giving the right to bear arms, written in the days where arms meant sabres, brown bess muskets and the occasional long rifle (half a century before the invention of the Minié ball or rotating bolt) entitles them to buy AR-15 rifles and automatic handguns.

    It's clear the intent of the founding fathers was to provide the people with the ability to overthrow the government. If you only allow people to have sabres and muskets in this age that clearly isn't following the intent. Automatic weapons are necessary to even have a chance.

    However, I think we should definitely consider whether that is still necessary. Our democracy has had a long history of success and we have resolved many tough issues peacefully. We should repeal the second amendment. That doesn't mean that all guns would be illegal, but it would mean the government has the power to regulate them.

  • Re:*confused (Score:4, Informative)

    by jedinite ( 33877 ) <<> <at> <>> on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:53AM (#42325417) Homepage

    See that little pipsqueek on the far right? That's what comes out of the "assault rifle" the killer from this story used. It is literally the size of 3 BBs glued together, with a few grams of powder behind it. Cartridge and all, it weighs less then 20 grams.

    Yeah, no.

    The round used by the primary firearm in this incident was, according to all the reports I've seen, the .223, aka the 7th round in your chart labeled "5.56 x 45 Nato." There's an important digit of distinction between a .22 and a .223. The projectile is only slightly wider, sure, but it has a lot more mass (approx double) and is moving at a much higher velocity (around 900-940 m/s vs 300-500 m/s).

    For pedantics, .223 and 5.56 are not the exact same thing, but they're externally the same, i.e. the same size cartridge (casing and bullet). The interior volume of the 5.56 round is smaller, and can create slightly larger chamber pressures when fired in a gun designed solely for .223.

    Not that it matters, but I'm a certified firearms instructor (certified to teach pistol, rifle, home firearm safety and personal protection) and strong advocate that the concepts being banded about for "gun control" are absolutely ludicrous at best, but that's not relevant to this specific bit of misinformation.

Variables don't; constants aren't.