Mass shooter Adam Lanza offered what is likely to be the closest thing to an explanation for his actions when he called a radio program a year before he gunned down 26 people, including 20 children, at a Connecticut elementary school.
The New York Daily News reported that it had authenticated a recording of the call made Dec. 11, 2011, to “Anarchy Radio” host John Zerzan.
“We remember the call,” said the 70-year-old Zerzan, of Oregon. “The only thing that seemed odd was his voice seemed kind of robotic … but what he was saying made sense.”
The paper said it had played the recording for two former classmates, who instantly recognized the caller as Lanza, although they said he apparently had tried to disguise his voice.
The 20-year-old Lanza, who was fascinated by guns and mass killings, fatally shot his mother Dec. 14, 2012, at their home before driving to nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he systematically opened fire on two classrooms before turning the gun on himself.
In the 7-minute call, Lanza draws parallels between a chimpanzee raised as a human who went on a violent 2009 rampage and the Norwegian mass murder Anders Breivik.
“His attack can be seen entirely parallel to the attacks and random acts of violence that you bring up on your show every week, committed by humans, which the mainstream also has no explanation,” Lanza told Zerzan. “I just … don’t think it would be such a stretch to say that he very well could have been a teenage mall shooter or something like that.”
Zerzan seems taken aback by how much Lanza knows about the chimpanzee case, which happened about an hour away from his home.
The animal, Travis, who had appeared in television commercials and was raised like a human, was shot to death in February 2009 after viciously mauling his owner’s friend.
Lanza, who identified himself as Greg during the call, claimed the chimp wasn’t “senselessly violent (or) impulsive.”
“Travis wasn’t an untamed monster at all,” Lanza said. “He wasn’t just feigning domestication, he was civilized. He was able to integrate into society.”
He continued, saying the chimp’s owner drove him around as part of her towing business, and the animal had met many people and got along with them.
“If Travis had been some nasty monster all his life it would have been widely reported, but to the contrary, it seems like everyone who knew him said how shocked they were that Travis had been so savage, because they knew him as a sweet child,” Lanza said.
He offered more clues about why the case had fascinated him in postings he apparently made on the “Shocked Beyond Belief” message board the day before and after the call.
Police said he posted there under the name “Smiggles,” and he wrote about his plan to call Zerzan, who broadcasts on KWVA-FM about the societal harms posed by technology.
“I’m really surprised that I haven’t been able to find anything (Zerzan has) written or said about the incident, considering how often he brings up random acts of violence,” Smiggles posted. “It seems like Travis would be a poster-chimp of his philosophy.”
Indeed, Zerzan says during the call that he’s not at all familiar with the case.
Lanza uses the chimp’s case as an analogy to modern human child-rearing, which he suggests was somehow dehumanizing.
“It brings up questions about this whole process of child-raising,” he says. “Civilization isn’t something which just happens to gently exist without us having to do anything, because every newborn child — human child — is born in a chimp-like state, and civilization is only sustained by conditioning them for years on end.”
Lanza, who apparently had Asperger’s syndrome, had made numerous posts on the message board expressing his obsession with mass killings and his disgust with physical contact, particularly sex.
“I castrated myself when I was 15 to rebel against society,” he posted in January 2011 under the Smiggles user name.
Zerzan said the Connecticut-based blogger Reed Coleman first told him he may have spoken with Lanza before the massacre.
“There’s nothing there indicating he was considering something so heinous and inconceivable,” Zerzan said, adding that authorities had not contacted him about the call.
“It was a year before Sandy Hook, so no one has any idea what he was thinking a year before,” the radio host said. “I don’t see how anyone could have guessed that with what was said.”
Listen to this recording of the call posted online by NewsHour: