Report: Lanza Hoped To Best Norwegian Killer's "Score"

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 19 2013 11:05 AM

Report: Lanza Saw Himself in "Direct Competition" With Norwegian Mass Shooter

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Self confessed mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik makes a right wing salute in court on Aug. 24, 2012

Photo by Odd Anderson/AFP/GettyImages

Sources close to the Sandy Hook investigation offered this disturbing detail to CBS News over the long weekend about Adam Lanza's possible motivation:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Sources say Lanza saw himself as being in direct competition with Anders Breivik, a Norwegian man who killed 77 people in July 2011. ... Two officials who have been briefed on the Newtown, Conn., investigation say Lanza wanted to top Breivik's death toll and targeted nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School because it was the "easiest target" with the "largest cluster of people."
Evidence shows that his mind, sources say, Lanza was also likely acting out the fantasies of a video game as he killed 20 first graders and six adults at the school. For Lanza, the deaths apparently amounted to some kind of "score." ... Officials have not publicly revealed what led them to the motive, but sources say investigators have found evidence Lanza was obsessed with Breivik.
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It's difficult to know how much stock to put in the report. For starters, similar loosely sourced stories about what happened in Newtown have a somewhat mixed track record when it comes to accuracy (as Lanza's brother, Ryan, can no doubt attest to). A Connecticut State Police spokesman, meanwhile, didn't deny the CBS report but he did stress that the investigation is still ongoing and that any discussion about Lanza's possible intent is "mere speculation."

Given how much we still don't know about Adam Lanza, it's obviously difficult to draw comparisons between him and other mass shooters, and I hesitate to do so here. One similarity between him and Breivik that jumps out in light of the CBS report, however, is that both targeted victims much younger than themselves: In the case of the then 32-year-old Breivik, teenagers at a camp on the island of Utøya; in 20-year-old Lanza's, first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary. In contrast, most of the gunmen that quickly spring to mind when thinking of past mass shootings at U.S. schools—Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech; Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine—were closer in age to their targets.

[Update: The Hartford Courant has their own story up on the emerging theory that Lanza was motivated, at least in part, by Breivik's mass shooting. You can read their piece here.]

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

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