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26 Victims or 27? Sandy Hook Commission Considers Role Of Shooter's Mother



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HARTFORD (AP) — The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission debated Friday whether the victims counted in the dedication should include the shooter’s mother, a woman who has been faulted for contributing to the tragedy by fostering his fascination with guns as he grew increasingly socially isolated.

A draft of the dedication for the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s report references 26 victims, but Commissioner Harold Schwartz asked during the January 30 commission meeting why Nancy Lanza, the mother of the shooter, should not also be considered a victim. He suggested mentioning her name at least in a footnote.

“I’m not certain it is morally right to not acknowledge her as a victim,” said Mr Schwartz, a psychiatry professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

The role of Nancy Lanza, who often took her son to shooting ranges and purchased the rifle he would use the school massacre, has been a vexing question in Newtown. While friends have said she did her best raising a troubled son, a report released in November 2014 by the state’s Office of the Child Advocate concluded she contributed to his isolation as she kept him at home where he was surrounded by an arsenal of firearms and spent long hours playing violent video games.

Commission Chairman Scott Jackson said it is impossible to know how much responsibility Nancy Lanza bears.

“I think that’s why number 27 is always so difficult, because there’s so much we don’t know,” said Mr Jackson, the mayor of Hamden.

The advisory commission, created by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in the wake of 12/14, plans to issue its report soon with dozens of policy recommendations in areas including law enforcement and emergency response, school design and mental health and wellness.

Several commission members said they had no objection to leaving the dedication intact for the 26 people killed at the school. Commissioner Adrienne Bentman asked how other victims’ families might feel about seeing Nancy Lanza’s name on the same page with those of their loved ones.

Mr Schwartz said he would withdraw his proposal to include Nancy Lanza if that was the consensus.

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