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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 godrik ( 1287354 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:00PM (#42316779)

    I heard a psychologist on NPR last week saying that most massive shooting are long time premeditated actions. Almost no shooter just goes crazy take a gun and shoot everybody. They all spend weeks at it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:01PM (#42316789)

    This should be a reminder to all of us to be that friend he probably didn't have. I'd have killed myself in college if it weren't for a few online friends. Skearrit and Zenobia, that's you. It's WoW now instead of MUDs, but people are the same.

  • by YodasEvilTwin ( 2014446 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:10PM (#42316901) Homepage
    Yeah, you'd think you'd have to work up to that sort of thing. It's too complex an action for it to just come out of someone at random; it's the result of long-term turmoil and a damaged pysche.
  • by operagost ( 62405 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:16PM (#42316981) Homepage Journal
    Which is why mandatory waiting periods are pointless. The wait should be no longer than it takes to make the federally mandated background check-- which apparently somehow needs start taking people's mental health into account. He was only 20, so the known issues he had in school should have been flagged. I imagine the privacy laws in regards to minors may be an issue.
  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:19PM (#42317011)

    Indeed, if there were any signs to be gleaned from his computer, it doesn't matter since they'll be ignored anyway

    One would hope so.

    The alternative is even more government intrusion into your computers and communications.

    The fact that he did destroy them suggests he knew there was stuff on them which might be of use to the police. Since he obviously intended to take his own life, none of this could be used against him personally. One has to wonder if he had fellow travelers in his journey to insanity that he thought he could protect via destruction.

    I would imagine his ISP is surrendering logs at this very moment.

  • by medcalf ( 68293 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:34PM (#42317245) Homepage
    My understanding is that Lanza's rifle was left in the car. He only used pistols in the shooting. So in what way does banning semi-automatic rifles help prevent such acts, even presuming it could be successfully done and the existing semi-automatic rifles removed from circulation, which is doubtful?
  • by jittles ( 1613415 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:39PM (#42317325)

    Which is why mandatory waiting periods are pointless. The wait should be no longer than it takes to make the federally mandated background check-- which apparently somehow needs start taking people's mental health into account. He was only 20, so the known issues he had in school should have been flagged. I imagine the privacy laws in regards to minors may be an issue.

    The background checks are supposed to already take your mental health into account. You also have to self-certify that you do not have any mental illnesses (though really, how can anyone really know if they have a mental illness, unless they were diagnosed and told said diagnosis?). In any event, Federal law prevents a 20 year old from buying any weapon with a pistol grip, including the Bushmaster .223 and the two semi-automatic pistols he was reported to have on his person. His mom could buy those items, and transfer them to him after his 18th birthday, but that can also be illegal if she thinks he has a mental illness or if it falls under the rules and regulations barring a straw-man purchase.

    In any event, I would not consider the mom to be a responsible gun owner. You should have everything properly secured that you are not presently using. If she was using one of those weapons for self-defense, it should have been on her person. If you leave your guns out, they can be used against you, as she likely learned prior to her death./P.

  • by medcalf ( 68293 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:45PM (#42317419) Homepage
    Crazy people? Tell it to the person in Milwaukee who, on November 21, used his carry weapon to defend himself in a hair salon. Two men knocked, were let in by a customer, then one of the men pulled a gun and aimed it at the customer, who knocked it away and then used his own gun to kill his attacker and wound the attacker's accomplice. Or tell it to the 12 year old Oklahoma girl a couple of months ago, who used the family handgun to defend herself against a home intruder whose history included kidnapping a girl.
  • by deroby ( 568773 ) <deroby@yucom.be> on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:58PM (#42317629)

    Disclaimer : this is just my personal opinion.

    Maybe you look at this the wrong way, I guess the mother didn't look at guns as self-defence but rather as a hobby. Why does Jay Leno need 100 cars ?

    Friend of mine has 5 fire-arms (guns & rifles) and makes his own ammo. If he ever goes mental I'm sure it will make the world-news too... But as far as I can tell he's a sane, laid-back kind of guy with a hobby he practices perfectly within the law. Who am I to deprive him of that ?

    And where to draw the line ? Crossbows ? Bows ? Slingshots ? Knives ?
    IMHO, most people around here (Belgium, strict laws) play with guns for a hobby, few have it for self-defence. AFAIK.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:59PM (#42317645)

    I don't think you actually do this, at least have not in some years. I in fact do tear drives apart and melt the exterior aluminum casting for ... casting (duh, nothings a better casting raw material than cast product.. trying to cast extruded alloys is usually an exercise in futility).

    Anyway I have the scar on my hand to prove that you don't do that kinda of stuff with modern glass platters, they are not safety glass they pretty much explode into shrapnel. Yes they do bend, in fact they bend pretty well before they shatter. Weird but true. I would hazard a guess that "most" drives bigger than 10 gigs are glass platter and very few below a gig are glass platter. Yes in the 90s they were all metal of various kinds, and made nice windchimes and targets.

    One interesting observation is for decades all you need to completely disassemble a hard drive is about 4 torx size screws, like T5, T20 and a couple others. Also the color of platters follows no obvious pattern over the decades due to different chemistry.

    But don't go telling kids now a days to smash up their platters, or there's gonna be sharper than razor glass shards everywhere and/or stitches.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) * on Monday December 17, 2012 @05:25PM (#42318013)

    What do you consider sensible?

    Of the things you listed, I would definitely support improving mental health care. I have a cousin that had a head injury while he was in the military, and now has many symptoms of schizophrenia and paranoid delusions. I have gone with him to the VA about a dozen times. We never saw the same doctor twice. They will usually prescribe routine treatment, such as Haldol, which is effective against schizophrenia, but actually makes the paranoia worse. We then have to explain to the doctor that we already tried that a decade ago, and perhaps he should take a few minutes to actually read the patients medical history. The amount of waste and duplication is so immense, that I am not sure improving things would even cost more. One cheap way to improve the situation (while cutting costs) would be to empower the nurses, who usually know far more than the doctors about individual patients, to make more decisions, and then fire the dumbest doctors.

    Better mental heath would not only reduce gun deaths, but would lower all crime. It has been estimated that half the people in prison have untreated mental conditions. How many of them wouldn't be there if they got treatment earlier? If we spent less on prisons and more on mental health, we would probably come out way ahead.

  • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @05:55PM (#42318445) Homepage

    Not that it matters. Modern hard drives are unrecoverable after one pass [anti-forensics.com].

  • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @05:59PM (#42318491)

    Guns are not the problem.

    No, gun nuts are the problem.

    The rate of gun ownership in Canada is about half what it is in the US, with 22% of households having guns vs your 45%. In Canada, only about 2.3% of households have handguns (under very restrictive conditions and with limited magazines) as opposed to about 25% of American households.

    The rate of gun suicide in Canada is about equal to that in the US, which is significant because the primary purpose of owning a gun is to kill yourself: that is the most common use of guns against humans in both the US and Canada, and why wouldn't we identify the most common use as the purpose of the tool?

    The really interesting thing, though, is that the rate of gun homicide in Canada is less than 20% of that in the US (0.7 per 100,000 vs somewhat more than 4 per 100,000)

    One intriguing possibility that would explain this difference is that while we have lots of guns, we have very few handguns and virtually no assault weapons.

    This is intriguing because handguns and assault weapons are designed specifically to kill other people, and the difference in gun use between Canada and the US is specifically in the use of guns to kill other people.

    Anyone who isn't a gun nut can see this, and is at least very intrigued by the possibility that Canadian-style near-elimination of handgun and assault weapons from the United States might lead to a factor of five reduction in gun homicide. Unfortunately many people (the ones I've designated "gun nuts") think this would be a bad thing.

    So you're right: the problem is not the guns. The problem is the nuts.

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Monday December 17, 2012 @06:38PM (#42319005) Homepage Journal

    As for "why so much ammo" - 100 rounds is no big deal anywhere. Ammo comes in boxes of 20, and it's not uncommon to purchase 2 to 10 boxes at a time. Anyone serious about marksmanship might buy 100 boxes at a time. It only takes several minutes to use up a box, if you're carefully aiming. If you're just having fun, it only takes a minute.

    Okay, how about this. When out hunting you don't need hundreds of rounds, and even if for some reason you do you don't need high capacity magazines. Why not limit people to small amounts of ammo and small cartridges, or better yet no assault weapons, and for people who really must play with them allow ranges to keep and loan them? You could even buy your own and keep it at the range, or even keep it in your house but keep the cartridges at the range.

  • Israel Civil Force (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bodhammer ( 559311 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @06:40PM (#42319023)
    I just read this entire thread and find it fascinating. There are some well thought out arguments on both sides. One thing I have not seen mentioned is the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Guard_(Israel) [wikipedia.org] . This is a volunteer force, administered by the police. One of the areas they protect is schools and kindergartens. The volunteers are screened, get training, and provide a first line of defense until the troops show up. They have over 50,000 in the force out of a population of 7.7 million. If we had the same percentage in the USA we would have over 20 million people helping with security and crime.
    I'm interested in what this community thinks. Would/Could this work in the USA? Would you volunteer for 12 hours/month?
  • by n7ytd ( 230708 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @06:53PM (#42319203)

    The real danger is the mentally and our total lack of will to deal with them. This guys mother knew and had talked about him burning himself days before the incident. She obviously understood things were very wrong but did nothing. As a society we at most pump people with dangerous mental pathology full of drugs their own doctors hardly know what effect will have and send them back out among us. In probably the majority of cases we do nothing about them at all.

    Please don't be so quick to say that his mother "understood things were very wrong but did nothing". What would you have her do? The guy was legally an adult, and she couldn't possibly have kept a 24-hour watch on him.

    A very good friend of mine has a son with schizophrenia; people that only he can see tell him what to do. On several occasions, he has traveled over 1,000 miles because imaginary people told him to. Once he was instructed to drive across country to witness the second coming of Christ. Another time he ended up in the middle of Los Angeles and destroyed his cell phone and wallet so that "they" couldn't track him. He was instructed to set his parents' house on fire while they were at work, causing about $100K of damage and forcing the family to move out for about 6 months while it was repaired.

    His parents bend over backwards to try and keep an eye on his condition and get him the help that they are able, but the guy's in his mid-twenties; if he doesn't consent to staying in the hospital more than 72 hours, they can't keep him there. He can walk, drive, or ride a bus just like anyone else. Short of keeping him locked in the basement with no shoelaces or metal utensils, what should they do?

    My friend once told me that at least when he's in jail (which happens frequently), he can at least sleep knowing where his son is.

    Everyone has to sleep sometime.

  • by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @07:00PM (#42319277)
    I think Tarantino said it best:

    blame the playmakers

    source [bbc.co.uk]

    Seeing and doing are two different things, however we live in a nation of retards, so every time something bad happens, the tards come out in force with their "ideas".

    My thoughts are it's a tragedy, there was a time you could walk into a school without a visitor badge to pick somebody up, it's not the guns that are to blame, it's the fact that we as a society are producing people who go out into their neighborhoods and do such things. I don't hear anybody proposing a solution for that.

  • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @08:11PM (#42320005)

    If you want to stockpile 1000 guns; I think I do as member of this society, have a right to know why.

    No, you don't. I don't need to explain to you why I want to exercise my constitutional rights, any more than you need to explain to me why you should be allowed to exercise yours.

    Why don't you allow cops to search your house when they ask? Are you hiding something? Why do you need any right to be secure in your person and property unless you've done something wrong? What are you hiding? As a member of this society, I have a right to know why you are invoking the fourth or fifth amendments. Don't I? (Note to readers: that's a rhetorical question intended to make the point that the argument "I have a right to know why you want to..." is specious and patently absurd.)

    There is no reason to own many of the guns that are sold,

    No reason you understand. Are constitutional rights only valid if you understand why someone wants to exercise them?

    And I see absolutely no reason for the conceal carry laws other then

    The right of people to defend themselves is a pretty good reason. You don't understand why others use their rights. We get that. Your lack of understanding is really irrelevant to the discussion.

    I believe in responsible gun ownership but I don't see how that right is unlimited and unrestricted.

    "I don't understand why you want to own a gun" isn't a valid restriction, and there are already quite a number of restrictions that you don't seem to know about. It's hyperbole to claim that gun ownership is "unlimited and unrestricted" just because you don't think they are limited enough to meet your understanding.

  • by arf_barf ( 639612 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @08:20PM (#42320077)

    Friends of mine were in the exact same boat. It's a situation without a solution. If the patient is force medicated, they are unable to function in day to day lives. If they get of the meds, it's just a matter of weeks until they land in trouble. The worst thing is, even here in California, there is virtually no State sponsored support for mentally ill people. Ultimately the solution was to send their son to Europe to spend the rest of his life in a live-in/half-way house mental clinic. It's not cheap, but it's a fraction of the cost of what it was here in the states (for a private institution) and based on his facebook updates, he lives a almost normal life.

  • by BetterSense ( 1398915 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @08:48PM (#42320387)
    How many people did not die in the Clackamas Mall shooting a couple days ago? Apparently a bystander who was legally carrying a handgun for defense confronted the shooter, but did not fire due to presence of bystanders. Handgun vs. rifle is a very frightening disparity, btw.


    How many people didn't die that would have? Hard to say, but I'm sure all we will hear in the news is about the shooter how the incident proves we need to ban guns.
  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:44PM (#42320953) Journal

    We can do both. It isn't an all or nothing solution. Reducing the availability of guns will reduce the number of fatalities.

  • by doggo ( 34827 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @09:25AM (#42324513) Homepage

    Yup. Like the detectives who investigated the murder of my last girlfriend, (and I paraphrase) most murders happen to people involved, in some way, in crime. The cops were pissed 'cause she was a "civilian". Violent crime happens mostly to criminals, and the poor.

    After that, it's crimes of passion (Yeah, I was the prime suspect for a few hours.)

    My girlfriend was innocent, she had a degree from a prestigious university, and was successfully working in her field and building a career. She was 26.

    So, numbers are numbers, and there are exceptions. FWIW, no weapons were involved, firearms or otherwise. The Chicago Police caught the murderer a week later. He was convicted 3 years later. He was 17, he'll serve 45 years without parole.

    My point is, crime happens. These shootings happen. And they are certainly regrettable. But the news media blow it way out of proportion.

    There are too many guns in the U.S., too many arsenals. I'm a gun owner too. But I know we have a problem.

    But it's less the guns, than it is the society. There's too much fear in the U.S. That's what the suburban arsenals are all about. Fear. Read a gun or knife forum, these guys talk like they're walking around in a war zone. When in reality, they live in relatively safe communities.

    It's not only the fear, it's lack of mental healthcare, and healthcare in general (see the stats on suicide by firearms). It's lack of community. It's lack of social support. It's poverty, unemployment, and anger at not being able to achieve the "American Dream" we all grew up believing in. And the stupid drug laws that put marijuana smokers in hardcore prison for the equivalent of drinking a six-pack. But let's drunk drivers stay on the street.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!