While the crime seemed more heinous than other school shootings because the victims were so young, the gunman was typical.
Princeton sociologist Katherine Newman, has studied all the school shootings that occurred in the U.S. since 1970.
Newman says the school shooters she’s studied had a few things in common. They have all been white males, generally between the ages of 15 and 25, most were depressed, and most were intelligent.
Lanza was an honors student. Described as thin, socially awkward, and shy, he didn’t even want to have his picture in his high school year book.
Classmates say say he barely said a word during his time at school and he didn’t have many or any friends.
Newman says all of the school shooters she studied were “dwebish intellectuals” or “outcasts.”
Another common thread with school shootings is meticulous planning. Very few of the cases Newman has looked at were random. There was a reason for the attack, in the killer’s mind.
People who knew the shooters, looking back, said there were clues leading up to the tragedies.
“School shooters are looking to gain the affection and attention of their peers. They never explode spontaneously, they usually let out hints many months in advance,” she says.
The location of Friday’s massacre also fits the pattern she’s noticed with other mass shootings.
“School rampage shootings tend to happen in small, isolated or rural communities,” says Newman. “There isn’t a very direct connection between where violence typically happens, especially gun violence in the United States, and where rampage shootings happen.”
By LINDA THOMAS