Just 13 weeks after the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school, quietly and unbeknownst to media until this week, Robbie and Alissa Parker, parents of Emilie Clark, 6, one of the 20 children gunned down at Sandy Hook, met with Peter Lanza, father of the man who murdered their daughter. Their conversation was revealed in an interview with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell on “CBS This Morning” this week.
The O’Donnell interview was part of the push to draw attention to Newtown’s hosting of Vice President Joe Biden and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in town to meet with the victims’ families, to discuss their views and rev up support for the Harry Reid-abandoned assault weapons ban. The Parkers agreed to talk to O’Donnell the day before that momentous meeting and in that interview they revealed the surprising conversation they’d had with the father of the disturbed young killer who changed their lives, and the lives of 27 other families, forever.
In a sober, quiet tone, they spoke of how they had wanted to meet with Peter Lanza as part of their grieving process, to hopefully glean some answers and gain insight into the mind of a person who could so callously destory the lives of so many. With both the killer and his mother numbered in the deceased, Peter Lanza was their one tie… and they reached out to him. From CBS News:
The meeting “was kind of my doing,” Alissa Parker explained. “I guess the reason why I felt strongly that I needed to tell [Peter Lanza] something. And I needed to get that out of my system. I felt very motivated to do it and … I felt really good about it, I prayed about it, and it was something that I needed to do.”
Apparently Peter Lanza was not only willing to meet with the Parkers, he, too, felt it was necessary. He had heard Robbie Parker express condolences to the Lanza family through the media after the shooting and realized these were extraordinary people. The meeting was arranged. Alissa Parker was clear about her goals, as reported by the Daily Mail:
“I wanted to tell him that there was a lot of hope and opportunity to gain from this, that he held the keys to. There was information and things to be learned… and without his co-operation it would go no where.”
“We definitely expressed our condolences for one another and we felt he was very receptive,’ Mr Parker said. ‘I got the impression he was very grateful for the chance to speak to somebody.”
While the Parkers did not share any insights Mr. Lanza gave them into his son’s medical history or problems at home, they said they believe more information is yet to emerge. They added that, while they are not angry at Mr. Lanza, they do hold him partly accountable for the horror their son inflicted on December 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
‘We don’t hold him solely responsible,’ Mrs Parker said. ‘I feel like he’s made mistakes. I don’t feel he should be responsible for what happened that day. It was not ultimately his decision to do [it].” She added that, when it comes to forgiving Adam, she has decided it is not her burden to bear.
“I do hold him accountable but I feel like God will determine that,” she said. “He’s in a place where the judgment will happen. I don’t have to judge him.”
Many have wondered what Peter Lanza himself must have experienced upon hearing that his son had committed such a heinous act. While he has not yet spoken directly to the media about the impact of the event from his perspective, and has kept a general low profile since, a reporter from the Daily Mail shared this:
Neighbours of Peter Lanza and Shelley Cudiner said the pair packed up their car and left their affluent home in the Stamford suburb of Westover, Connecticut, shortly after being informed.
The news reporter who told Lanza that his son had committed one of the worst mass shootings in American history described the moment in the Stamford Advocate.
“His expression twisted from patient, to surprise to horror,” wrote Maggie Gordon. “It was obvious that this moment was the first time he had considered his family could be involved.” [...]
More than a week after the massacre, Peter Lanza collected his son’s body and released a statement saying the family was also asking why his son would go on a shooting spree. “We too are asking why,” he said in a statement. “Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy. No words can truly express how heartbroken we are.”
Clearly his willingness to meet with one family so directly affected by the act of his son speaks to his character. That it offered the Parkers some solace could only help in their grieving process, as Alissa Parker had hoped to achieve.
The Parkers spoke to O’Donnell about their continuing pain at the loss of a child who was such a bright light in their family and an integral part in the lives of their other daughters. Their goal, they explained, remains on facing any new information as it came to their attention, acknowledging their sorrow on a day-to-day basis, and then just getting on with their lives, making a home where their two remaining daughters can flourish despite the loss of their beloved sister. They do keep a very touching blog about “our families (sic) journey through the grieving process after loosing our daughter, Emilie Parker, in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting,” which can be found HERE.
In an interesting and painful twist, the Parkers were one of the families focused on by a virulent group of anti-government, anti-Obama, pro-gun conspiracy theorists called the Newtown Truthers (or the Sandy Hook Truthers), who were (and still are) promoting the theory that the Newtown shooting was a hoax perpetrated by the Obama administration in an effort to turn public opinion against guns. With absurd interpretations of everything from who’s in what photograph, why what dress was being worn by whom, and what this or that person really meant by what they said to TV cameras, their perversion of an already perverted act made the stunning grief and loss of the Newtown parents fodder for rabid disinformation. I covered the original story in an Addicting Info piece titled ‘Absolute Proof Sandy Hook Was Staged’ – ‘Newtown Truthers’ Hit A New Low (VIDEO). It appears the ‘Truthers’ (there’s a misnomer if there ever was one) continue to flog the theory despite getting support from few outside of other pro-gun zealots, anti-government groups and even young “leftists” with “fusion paranoia” (“the merging of the radical left and right into a common concern about the government and centralized power”). At the end of the day, debating the various conspiracy theories with those who’ve lost their children is an act of unconscionable cruelty.
As for the Parkers, they focus on the gift their daughter gave them, rather than the way she died:
“As the deep pain begins to settle in our hearts, we find comfort in the incredible person Emilie was and how many people she was able to touch in her short time on Earth. Emilie’s laughter was infectious, and everyone who met her would agree that the world was a better place because she was in it.”
That seems the best way to leave this…
[See video of the Norah O'Donnell interview highlights:]