Newtown gunman apparently called radio in 2011
- Associated Press
- January 16, 2014 - 3:50 PM
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The man who carried out the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre apparently called a radio station a year earlier to discuss the 2009 mauling of a Connecticut woman by a chimpanzee.
The caller believed to be Adam Lanza speaks softly on a show on the University of Oregon's campus radio station and blames "civilization" for the animal's attack.
It would be the first known public recording of Lanza's voice. The 20-year-old man killed 20 children and six adults at the school in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012. He also shot to death his mother inside their home before driving to the school and took his own life as police arrived.
A person with the username "Smiggles" describes making the call afterward in a Web posting. State police documents refer to instant messages from "Smiggles" as presumably being from the Sandy Hook gunman.
A former classmate, Kyle Kromberg, told the New York Daily News that he recognized the voice as Lanza's.
State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III said he didn't know whether the caller was Lanza but that it was a possibility.
In 2009 in Stamford, Charla Nash was blinded, lost both hands and underwent a face transplant after being mauled by a chimpanzee named Travis, who belonged to her friend. Nash had gone to the owner's home to help lure the 200-pound chimpanzee back inside. But the chimp went berserk and ripped off Nash's nose, lips, eyelids and hands before being shot to death by a police officer.
The caller believed to be Lanza said Travis was raised like a child and was highly domesticated, noting he used an electric tooth brush, a TV remote control and even the computer. Travis was integrated into society, the caller said, recalling the chimp's interactions with humans and his acting in TV commercials.
"Look what civilization did to him," said the caller, who identified himself as Greg. "It had the same exact effect on him as it has on humans. He was profoundly sick in every sense of the term and he had to resort to these surrogate activities like watching baseball and looking at pictures on the computer screen and taking Xanax."
The caller said Travis appeared to be desperate to change his environment, "and the best reason I can think of for why he would want that, looking at his entire life, would be that some little thing he experienced was the last straw and he was overwhelmed by the life that he had."
He compared the attack to other random acts of violence.
"I just don't think it would be such a stretch," the caller said, "to say that he very well could have been a teenage mall shooter or something like that."
The radio show was hosted by John Zerzan, 70, a fixture of Eugene, Ore.'s anarchist community for years. His books and pamphlets call for a return to the primitive and have been compared to the anti-technology manifesto of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, whom Zerzan visited in jail.
In hindsight, Zerzan said it is easy to find statements from Lanza foreshadowing the horrific events to come, but at the time he had no such impression. He only remembers the call at all because at the time, he had not been aware of the chimpanzee attack.
"I didn't get any hint that he was thinking about being an agent of something like that," Zerzan said.
He said that what stood out the most was the caller's discussion of the parallels between what led the chimp to act out and what causes snipers or gunmen to act.
"These shootings are now daily affairs," he said. "Nobody is asking why. What is this telling us about the evolution of mass society in the techno age?"
Prosecutors issued a summary of the investigation last year that portrayed Lanza as obsessed with mass murders and afflicted with mental problems but they said Lanza's motives for the massacre may never be known.
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