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Could the neighbors have prevented Newtown?

White roses bearing the faces of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting are displayed on a telephone pole near the school in Newtown, Conn. Adam Lanza opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, killing 26 students and educators. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

In the year since the Sandy Hook Massacre, Daily News reporter Matt Lysiak actually lived in Newtown, Connecticut writing a book about whether this tragedy could have been prevented.

We’ve all heard that the gunman, Adam Lanza, suffered from an extreme form of Asperger’s, but Lysiak focuses on his mother, Nancy, who became his first victim – and the strange choices she made, considering how ill her son was,
to the point that he blacked out his windows and created a 7 foot by 4 foot spreadsheet documenting past mass shootings.

“It was meticulous, and he had another spreadsheet that was a check off list on things to do to prepare for a killing, so this was premeditated,” says Lysiak.

Let’s not skirt what made the difference here. It’s one thing to be mentally ill, it’s another thing to be mentally ill and have access to weapons like this. And Nancy apparently had been teaching him to use weapons since he was 4 years old.

“She encouraged it. She took him to the shooting range,” says Lysiak.

Was there a critical mass of neighbors who knew he had mental illness and access to guns?

“This tragedy could have been prevented,” says Lysiak. “This is why I felt it was important to write this book. There were many, many steps all along the way where people were like, wow, that’s weird you let him around guns. I’ve talked to people who’ve told me that. I was like ‘Well did you say anything to Nancy?’ [They were like] ‘No, she’s a very independent spirit.'”

Matt Lysiak author of “Newtown: An American Tragedy” says, as tough as it is, when neighbors see a family out of control, they should find a way to intervene.

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