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An Easily Missed Detail about Sandy Hook Worth Remembering

(Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

There’s a Morning Jolt reader who lives in Newtown, Conn., whose child attended the local high school when the shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

This reader mentioned that he’s spent a lot of time thinking about that day, and he knows that the shooter* attended Newtown High School until tenth grade. The high school stands between the shooter’s home and Sandy Hook elementary; to get from his home, where he first killed his mother, to the elementary school he would have had to either drive past the high school, or take a longer alternate route.

The post-shooting investigation by the Connecticut State Attorney’s office could not determine why the shooter chose to target the elementary school. But that report did mention, “The elementary school may have been targeted because he could overpower people, a dynamic that is very important for mass shooters as they do not want to be thwarted.”

“Why did he drive by Newtown High School — directly, if he took the quickest route, or indirectly, if he took the others?” my reader asked. “I ask myself that question and tell myself it is futile to try to get inside the head of someone who is insane. But then I think — others try, when they come up with various responses to school shootings. And I also think this: There was a guard at Newtown High School, and anyone who attended the school knew it. A potential attacker may think about the possibility of being met by such a guard. Isn’t it possible — likely? — that that thought enters the mind of someone about the carry out such attacks?”

We will never know for certain in that case. But it is a data point worth considering. Madmen who are consumed by the desire to kill a lot of people rarely take police stations or army posts head-on. Targeting those who are helpless seems to be a key part of their twisted power fantasy.

Of course, last night brought the appalling, outrageous news that the armed sheriff’s deputy who remained outside the high-school building in Parkland for four minutes. This shows us that not even having an armed cop on school grounds can guarantee quick action against a school shooter.

* I try not to mention the names of mass shooters, in order to deny them the fame or infamy that they sought.

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