Profile of a School Shooter

December 17, 2012

On the morning of December 14, 2012, authorities say 20-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into an elementary school in Connecticut and opened fire, killing at least 20 children and six adults before taking his own life. Investigators believe Lanza shot and killed his mother at a nearby home before the massacre. Dr. Phil talks to the parents of two children who were at the school when shots rang out, including their 6-year-old son, who they say witnessed his teacher being shot and killed. How can they help their children cope with such a trauma? Plus, would you know if you were raising a killer? In a very rare and emotional interview, hear from Jeff, whose son, Andy, became a school shooter. He says in 2001, his then 15-year-old son went to school with a .22 caliber revolver and 40 bullets in his backpack and opened fire on his classmates. Jeff recounts the tragic day and shares the signs he says he may have missed in his son. Plus, hear Jeff’s tearful warning for all parents.
















Sandy Hook Elementary SchoolAndyJeff

A Senseless Shooting

Authorities say on the morning of December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and gunned down 20 children and six adults before killing himself. Investigators believe Lanza shot and killed his mother at a nearby home before the massacre.

Dr. Phil speaks to Robert and Diane, whose two children were inside the school when the shooting occurred. They say their 6-year-old son witnessed his teacher being shot and killed along with several of his classmates before he escaped by running out of a door behind the gunman. They say their children are understandably scared. “They’re worried about another killer coming to their house,” Robert says.


Dr. Phil advises Robert and Diane on how to talk to their children about what happened.

“Don’t be afraid to let them see you shed a tear. It’s important for them to understand that emotions are OK.”

How can Robert and Diane help their son emotionally process the magnitude of the loss?


Inside the Mind of a Shooter

Jeff says his son, Andy, was a friendly little boy. “I never thought Andy would grow up to commit murder,” he says. But on March 5, 2001, his then 15-year-old son went to school with a .22 caliber revolver and 40 bullets in his backpack and opened fire on his classmates, killing two and wounding 11.

Jeff was at work when he saw the news footage of the event, and he went to the school to look for his son. After two hours of searching, he found a few of Andy's classmates. “They were balling and through their tears, they went, ‘He did it,’" Jeff recalls. “I was devastated. I just felt like the whole world was crushing down on me.”

Jeff says that morning, Andy wrote a goodbye note, went to school, entered the bathroom and loaded the pistol, walked out of the stall, shot one student in the back of the head and another kid in the stomach. Andy reloaded his weapon five or six times and shot at others. “Andy had enough of the bullying, picking on him in front of his friends," Jeff shares. "Andy was turned into a killer.”

Jeff and his partner, Donna, join Dr. Phil in studio. Donna’s son was at the high school the day of the shooting.

Jeff recalls learning that Andy was the school shooter. Did he miss warning signs? “I felt like somebody just, literally, ripped out my heart, threw it down and stomped on it.”

Jeff makes an emotional plea to all parents, especially those of troubled, violent children. “I have to relive this shooting every time.”

Tune in Tuesday for more on the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting and how to help young children cope with such a traumatic event.