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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Remembering Newtown Massacre Victims
Aired December 17, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here in Newtown, Connecticut, a community still struggling with grief, still reaching out to one another for comfort, beginning the long process of saying goodbye to so many young lives, lives cut far too short.
Makeshift memorials remind the people of this community that they are not alone in their grief;. People stop by to leave candles and flowers and teddy bears and notes of comfort. It is a daunting concept, the idea of trying somehow to move on without the 20 6- and 7-year-olds who lost their lives Friday, trying to move on without the six adults who were also killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Moving on may not be possible for a very long time if ever. It is not clear just when the students of Sandy Hook will return to class, but when they do, it will be in a different building, a different school, in a neighboring town. Everything is different now. Everything.
For the families here, this week is about trying to find a way to say goodbye and to honor the lives of their children, the lives of their teachers and school administrators. There are three funerals scheduled for the rest of the week for three 6-year-olds and there were two funerals today also for 6-year-olds, for Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner.
Tonight, we remember Jack and Noah and we wish their families and friends and their classmates a modicum peace and lots of strength at this unimaginably difficult time.
COOPER (voice-over): In a tribute to the little boy who loves sports, teammates from the local youth wrestling association wore their uniforms and medals to 6-year-old Jack Pinto's funeral. Jack was an avid sports fan, not just wrestling, but baseball, basketball, and skiing.
His first love, however, was football. He idolized the New York Giants' Victor Cruz, who paid tribute to his little fan by writing his name on his cleats before a game this past weekend. According to "The New York Times," a family friend who gave a eulogy at the funeral described Jack as the kind of boy who commanded all the attention in the room, and that he wanted nothing more than to catch up with his older, Ben, whom he would have followed anywhere. In his obituary, Jack's family wrote, "In life and in death, Jack will forever be remembered for the immeasurable joy he brought to all who had the pleasure of knowing him, a joy whose wide reach belied his six short years."
Also laid to rest today, Noah Pozner, who just celebrated his sixth birthday last month with his twin and best friend, Arielle. They were both first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary. On Friday, Arielle's reportedly hid in a bathroom during the attack. She survived. Noah did not.
VICTORIA HALLER, AUNT: We are all completely shattered. It's been a very, very rough few days. Nobody is getting very much sleep. You know, we're holding together as best we can. But you never, ever think that something like this could happen to your family.
COOPER: Noah's aunt says he loved to read and loved to figure out how things worked. She said he was extremely lively, the light of the room. She will remember his big blue eyes, a boy with a big heart who loved his parents, his older sisters and brother, and his twin most of all.
HALLER: They don't know the way in which Noah passed away, but obviously they were there during the whole event, and were led out. And it's not something that -- she just turned 6. Arielle just turned 6. And their older sister, Sophia, she is not even quite 8 yet. How do you tell them that's how their brother died? It's just not -- it's the unthinkable, really.
COOPER: In his obituary, his family says he was impish and larger than life. They called him a little soul devoid of spite and meanness. They wrote: "Everything he did conveyed action and energy through love. He was the light of our family. He will be forever missed."
COOPER: We have just seen the eulogy that was delivered by his Noah's mother, Veronique, at his funeral today. It was published by "The New York Times" and distributed by the Associated Press.
I just want to read part of it to you. "You were a little boy whose life force had the gravitational pull of a celestial body. You were light and love, mischief and pranks. You adored your family with every fiber of your 6-year-old being. We are all of us elevated in our humanity by having known you, a little maverick who didn't always want to do his schoolwork or clean up his toys when practicing his ninja moves or 'Super Mario' on the Wii seemed far more important. Noah, you will not pass through this way again. I can only believe that you were planted on earth to bloom in heaven. Take flight, my boy. Soar" -- the words of a mother grieving for her lost son.
One thing that we have been doing here is really trying to keep our focus on the lives lost and the lives of the people here who died led, the heroes who saved lives, who stopped even more bloodshed, and often put themselves in harm's way to do it, the teachers and the school administrators. We have avoided focusing on the killer, because he is gone, and, frankly, we don't want him to be remembered, certainly not his name.
We tried to be careful and respectful of what the families here are doing through, and we will continue to do that. We tried not to intrude on their suffering. After last night's program, we got a call from the McDonnell family. Their 7-year-old Grace, amazing Grace, died on Friday.
I spoke with Grace's parents at length today, and we're going to bring you that interview tomorrow. We were going to bring to it you tonight, but we had a technical problem with it. We want to make sure that we do it right, and we bring you the complete interview. So we will bring that to you tomorrow.
Tonight, we remember all the victims, and also the heroes of this tragedy, the teachers who did so much to protect their students and the first-responders. Here is what Lieutenant Vance of the Connecticut State Police said about those first-responders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. J. PAUL VANCE, CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE: The faculty, staff in that school did everything that they possibly could to protect those children. I can tell you that the first-responders that got to that scene when the active shooter team entered the school and saved many human lives. And I can tell you it broke our hearts we couldn't save them all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, at last night's memorial, the first-responders got a standing ovation from a very grateful community.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Rob Manna and Ray Corbo are firefighters with the Newtown Hook and Ladder Company. They join me now live.
Guys, if you could just come in here. Thank you so much for being with us.
How you both holding up?
ROB MANNA, FIREFIGHTER: Difficult every day. Every day, it's a little bit better. But it's a challenge. It's certainly a challenge.
COOPER: One of the things I know you guys have been doing is handing out gifts to little kids, things from the Red Cross. That's got to bring some comfort.
RAY CORBO, FIREFIGHTER: Definitely helps. An overwhelming amount of stuffed animals and Teddy bears have been streaming into the firehouse. And we're doing what we can to give it out to the children in town.
COOPER: You guys, you were born here, right?
COOPER: You're from here originally. Tell people about this community. I mean, I have just been struck about how close-knit it seems and probably now more than ever.
MANNA: Yes, the over-pouring of support from people in the community and the unity and, you know, the emotion is just -- it's overwhelming.
I can't say enough of the support we have been getting from even outside, other communities, and, you know, all around the country. The phone is ringing off the hook for people who want to bring food and supplies or whatever they can.
COOPER: I know on that horrible day. on Friday, you guys were assigned to a triage area. And it didn't unfortunately end up being used. That must have been a -- just a sickening feeling, to be there at this triage unit and then realize there is not people coming in.
CORBO: At the time, a few times during the incident, I actually thought to myself, should I be hoping that this area was filled with injured people?
CORBO: I was almost wishing that...
COOPER: Because then at least there would be some hope.
CORBO: Fairly early on, we realized that it wasn't going to be the case, and it was basically set up for nothing.
COOPER: When -- how do you deal with something like that as a first-responder? Everybody thinks about obviously the children and the teachers and all those who lost their lives and the parents. But the things that you guys have to deal with, there is -- I mean, it never leaves you.
CORBO: You have a job to do at the time, and that's what you're thinking about at the time. You really don't think too much about that kind of stuff until...
COOPER: Until later?
CORBO: Until later. And even now there is still a lot of stuff going on. And I think it's going to get worse before it gets better. COOPER: I have always found that in the first couple of days, and when there is a lot of focus and attention the adrenaline kind of gets you through, but it's often in the weeks after when people kind of go away and the rest of the world keeps spinning and returns to some semblance of normal, then it's this town which is going to be left with an open wound.
CORBO: There is going to be a new normal, I think. The old normal a week ago, that's gone, I believe.
MANNA: We live with a level of complacency all these years, and that's gone. And we will be scarred forever from this, I think.
CORBO: We will recover, obviously. Like Rob said. We're a close-knit community. We will recover somewhat. But it's like Rob said. The scar is not going to go away.
COOPER: The scars heal, but they remain. And they're always there.
I really appreciate all you have done, and thank you very much for talking. I know it's not easy. Thank you. Thanks. I wish you the best.
CORBO: Thank you.
COOPER: With the community really united in grief, one piece of the plan to move beyond the tragedy is taking shape today. And when I say move beyond, I don't want to make it sound like people want to forget, because they don't. This town will never forget, and they just need to try to figure out a way to continue on and honor the memory of those who they have lost.
How Newtown's neighbors are helping Sandy Hook students feel safe when they return to class. I will speak with those who lost loved ones in previous mass shootings about their healing process. We will be right back.
COOPER: Well, Newtown schools will reopen tomorrow, but not Sandy Hook Elementary, obviously. Instead, another, a former school will reopen eventually for the students who survived the shooting. The move will allow Sandy Hook students to return to class without having to return to the site of the tragedy.
Connecticut's governor, Dan Malloy, announced the move today at a very emotional news conference, where he also recounted the moments after the shooting when he needed to deliver to the parents who were waiting for news about their children, when he needed to deliver the worst possible news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: It was evident to me that there was a reluctance to tell parents and loved ones that the person that they were waiting for was not going to return.
And that had gone on for a period of time, well after there was any expectancy that families would be reunited. So I made a decision that, rather than relying on traditional investigative policies, that you actually have a child or an adult identified as the particular victim before you inform someone, or at least give them the information by which they could formulate for themselves that their loved one was not going to return, I made the decision that to have that go on any longer was wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I talked to Lynn McDonnell. Kate Bolduan joins me now.
I talked to Lynn McDonnell earlier. And we're going to play that full interview tomorrow. I talked to her and her husband, Chris, about that wait. They thought maybe their little Grace was in some place that was safe. And then slowly it began to dawn on people that that was not the case. So what are the plans now for schools?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It really started kicking into action the same day as the horror was unfolding.
No one wants to send the children back to Sandy Hook Elementary. They know that it's clearly not time for that. It's still a crime scene right now. So they have made plans with the neighboring town for a school just six miles away. Almost -- it's very fortuitous. But there was an empty middle that had been closed because of declining enrollment last year.
And so the neighboring town, Monroe, the chief executive of the town, he called them right away that same day and said if you want it, it's yours. And so they have been working around the clock. Contractors from around the region have been donating their time to get this facility -- it's a former middle school -- up to stuff and up to code. They have to change, really, everything. The bones of it are strong. It's a school.
But they have to lower everything. They have to replace toilets to be small enough for children, for elementary school children. They have to lower towel dispensers.
COOPER: Is it known when the kids are going to go back?
BOLDUAN: That's up to Newtown school officials. The Monroe town, a town official told me today the building itself could be ready as early as tomorrow. They have been working around the clock to get it ready.
But hen the school system is ready to ask the children to come back to school, that's up to Newtown school officials. And again this Friday is supposed to be the last day of school before the holiday break. So it could be, you know, only a day or two that they will be in class. But some are saying, we actually talked about it with Sanjay earlier, some are saying that's really what the kids need to do.
They need to get back into that routine. Because once they get into that routine and they go back in school and back focusing on their schoolwork and work, that's going to help them heal faster.
COOPER: And, of course, there are going to be a number of funerals all this week.
COOPER: We saw two today. I know Grace McDonnell, that the wake is on Thursday. I think the funeral is going to be on Friday. So whether the kids are going to go to funerals obviously -- and obviously they're going to need to have counselors on scene that first day those kids to come back to that school.
BOLDUAN: So tough. And they're actually -- I have been told they're even talking to teachers about how to talk to the students on the first day back.
BOLDUAN: If there are questions -- if violence is brought up or whatever questions may come up. You know, children see and know more than they give off, you know. They're very perceptive, especially at that age. They have been working with teachers, and they have assured -- and we saw it when we were driving around. They said that Chalk Hill, that middle school where the Sandy Hook children are going to be going, it will be they said likely the most secure school in the state.
And they're very serious about -- there is police patrol at every school. They said unfortunately that may now be the new normal as they're trying to figure out what to do and how to protect their kids.
COOPER: Kate, I appreciate that. Thank you very much for all that latest information.
Sadly, this is now the latest mass shooting to bring the country together in grief. And while many Americans are still struggling to grasp the enormity of what happened in Newtown, other families already know what it's like to face this sort of nightmare.
We thought it worthwhile to talk to some of the people who have been through this kind of a tragedy before. And, sadly, there are many of them.
Amardeep Kaleka lost his father at the Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, back in August. We talked to Amardeep a lot back then. And Roxanna Green lost her daughter Christina Taylor Green in the shooting in Tucson shooting that also injured Congresswoman Gabby Giffords nearly two years ago. Roxanna is joining me now. And Amardeep is going to be joining me in just a moment.
Roxanna, when you heard the news, what was your reaction? It must just all bring it back.
ROXANNA GREEN, MOTHER: I was devastated. I was heartbroken for all the families and the victims. And it just brought it all back to me, and I was very, very sad.
COOPER: Sure. Let me just give you a mike because I think we're having an issue here.
I will just hold on to it. There are now so many parents who are going through exactly what you went through. What is your advice to them? I mean, it's a journey that doesn't end, this journey of grief.
GREEN: Well, all I can say is to dig deep within yourself and if you're a person of faith, just to pray really hard and surround yourself with loved ones or family and friends. And things will get better in time. But unfortunately, it's a pain that never goes away. I have a hole in my heart, and I will forever. But I'm just praying for them, that they find some kind of peace.
MATTHEWS: And I want to bring in Amardeep as well.
Amardeep, for you, your loss was more recent. Obviously, when you heard of this, it must have just all brought it back.
AMARDEEP KALEKA, VICTIM'S SON: Oh my God, it was shocking. When we heard it -- we have a toddler running around the house. And we just stared at him. My wife looked at me. She works in a school. I was a former teacher. She goes he wouldn't have even ran. He would have been in shock. We just started crying. We couldn't stop.
COOPER: What is it like when there is a lot of focus in the immediate days after this, but then ultimately reporters go away, and a lot of the well-wishers and the counselors go away.
And the rest of the world sort of keeps spinning, but your world has stopped. I mean, your world has completely changed forever. How do you cope with that time when the adrenaline fades away and the reality sets in?
GREEN: Well, in my case, I wrote a book with Jerry B. Jenkins, "As Good as She Imagined." I started a foundation in my daughter's name. So I have been really, really busy with that and it takes up a lot of my time, and just giving back to less fortunate children in our community by building playgrounds and helping out the schools with Smart Boards and P.E. equipment. That has been therapeutic and healing.
COOPER: Amardeep, what can come out of this? We have seen far too many of these kinds of things. I know you want something to change. Something's got to change.
KALEKA: I mean, the national dialogue has to start. Roxanna and I with Mayors Against Illegal Guns. And we just did a whole event with Mayor Bloomberg this morning -- or this afternoon. And, I mean, it's not just the guns that is the problem, though. And it's become like a deep-down, rooted societal issue. And we need to keep that conversation going. And for us, we started a documentary called "Nursery Crimes."
And we're going out of our way to go figure out what is happening at a younger and younger age, and how we can find those people that are almost at this point of sociopathy and then stop it and bring them back.
COOPER: There is also obviously issues of mental health that need to be addressed. Is that a concern of yours as well?
GREEN: Oh, absolutely. Our system has failed so many young people. And, you know, I think Congress and the president has to work really, really hard to come up with a, you know, gun violence protection plan and a better health care system so these kind of senseless tragedies don't happen.
COOPER: It seems like so many even parents who know their children have an issue, or know their young kids in their 20s have an issue, they can't get help unless that child is proven to be violent or a threat to themselves or to others.
KALEKA: I mean, it's sad. Most of the time the child actually has to commit a crime before they're going to be able to get help. And a lot of times medical people have to say that, hey, I can't help them until they do something X, Y, Z bad. And that's a broken system, because we can see younger and younger kids doing small things that would be sociopathic or isolated. And we can get them to convert or to revert.
COOPER: What has been it been like for you just to walk around this town and just to see -- to see the outpouring of people just wanting to be here and hug one another?
GREEN: I think it's very, very special. It's so heartbreaking what happened here. It's just devastating. But to see all the people come together, we just know that there has to be change and hope with that.
COOPER: Yes. I appreciate both of you talking. And you wanted to be here too. You were walking around to see the memorials.
KALEKA: Absolutely. It was amazing to see all the support in the community to come out. And it's just one of those things that's -- it's one thing when you look at a kid that falls victim to this. They can't vote. They can't sign a petition. They can't go out and rally. But it's us, the adults at this point in time.
I mean, we just saw 20 innocent lives taken with no point to it. It was perverted beyond belief. And it's up to us to protect those children and the children that are up to come, you know.
COOPER: Amardeep, I appreciate you being here. Thank you.
Roxanna, thank you so much.
GREEN: Thank you very much.
COOPER: The latest coming up on the investigation, as authorities look at the computer's killer. Susan Candiotti joins us with that next.
COOPER: Well, as the Newtown community continues to struggle to make sense of this tragedy, if that's at all possible, police are trying to put the pieces together and figure out just what happened.
Susan Candiotti is here with the latest.
What are we learning about the investigation at this point?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the newest part about the investigation, Anderson, is that it turns out that the suspected shooter in this case did go to gun ranges a number of times over the last several years, and as recently as six months ago. Now, he might have gone more recently than that, but they're not through looking at all the gun ranges and contacting all of them to find out all the information.
COOPER: Did he good alone or...
CANDIOTTI: Well, they did find evidence that he went at least once with his mother. They haven't been able to prove whether they actually went target shooting together at that gun range. But they did both go together at least once.
COOPER: And have they found information at home, on computers or anything like that, do we know?
CANDIOTTI: Yes, they have been examining computers that were found at the home. And our sources tell us that they weren't in good order. They were smashed to smithereens. And now they literally had to pick up the pieces, take them to the crime lab. And now they're going through everything, trying to figure out what Web sites he visited, did he talk to anybody, was he in any chat rooms, leave any messages?
Did he play any video games? So they're looking at all these things to try to figure out. Again, it's all part of the big picture here and looking for a possible motive.
COOPER: And at this point, is it known why that school, why he picked that school?
CANDIOTTI: No, it isn't.
And, in fact, I talked with a young man who went to high school with him, and he went down to the memorial today because he can't believe what happened and feels so awful for the children. But he said that when he knew him in high school for one year, they were in the tech club together. They loved playing computers. He liked playing video games. And he mentioned two in particular, one called "Warcraft III."
CANDIOTTI: Another one called "Starcraft." And it involves setting up an enemy camp and you kill the soldiers and all of this.
But he said that everyone knew he was socially awkward and that he had some issues going on, something with his personality. But, as guys, they never really talked about it.
COOPER: And they're doing a complete look at the weapons that he had access to?
CANDIOTTI: Absolutely. As we know, he came armed to the hilt, officials say. Not only did he come with that high capacity military assault-style weapon and those two handguns, but he had 30-round magazines for each of them and several of them for each of them, plus extra ammo on top of that. And they're tracing the complete history of how often he used those guns, maybe where he used the guns. Maybe he used some of those at the gun range. But we don't know.
COOPER: Is there any more information about the shooter's mother?
CANDIOTTI: The shooter's mother. Well, we're finding out a little bit more about her divorce, through divorce papers, for example. She was getting alimony from her husband, about $290,000 a year, $24,000 a month. The marriage broken down because of irreconcilable differences, and that he was to buy a car for his son, and his ex-wife was to be responsible for the mortgage.
COOPER: Is that pretty much all at this point?
CANDIOTTI: Yes. I mean, they're still looking for the motive and trying to talk to family, to friends to try to paint a picture of what he was all about. There is some talk from one relative that Nancy Lanza -- well, everyone describes her more as a gun collector at this point.
We haven't heard anything other than that, any proof of anything else right now. But she was concerned about the economy, but there is no evidence that it went beyond that, you know.
CANDIOTTI: Why she was collecting these guns.
COOPER: Right. Susan Candiotti, I appreciate that, thank you very much for the latest on that.
After every mass shooting, of course, we're all left with the same question why, why did this happen. What leads someone down to gun down complete strangers? Do these killers have anything in common? What does history actually show us? Because what is fascinating is often what we think we know about these shootings, about the people who do them, it's actually very different than what the reality is. And often it takes years to learn the truth about these people. Chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me just ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LILLIAN BITTMAN, FORMER CHAIRWOMAN, NEWTOWN BOARD OF EDUCATION: It was devastating to know that someone had come into the school with a gun. That alone was horrible enough, because it's a place of peace and joy.
But now as we go forward and we've learned the names and now we're going through the grueling process of the funerals, it's very, very, very hard. Everyone uses the word hollow. That's where we're at right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We're going to continue to focus on the victims of Friday's shooting. We're going bring you just a little bit of my interview with the McDonnell family, whose daughter Grace was killed on Friday. We're going to play the whole interview for you tomorrow night.
But we'll play just a little bit a little bit later on to honor Grace, amazing Grace, as we talked about in the interview. But there are many unanswered questions that involve this killer. Why target an elementary school? Why this school?
Why did he murder 20 first graders, little kids just 6 and 7 years old, young enough to believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. As we said earlier today, and officials said authorities are examining a smashed computer found in the gunman's home.
Susan Candiotti just talked about that. That may or may not contain some clues. Investigators may not ever figure out exactly what happened. Sadly, though, there is a body of research on these kinds of killers, on mass murderers, and the common ground that they may share.
Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins me. He has been looking into that. You've been researching commonalities. What are they? What have you found?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the first things that these medical investigators, forensic investigators will do is to try and figure out, do they fit a particular type. And they almost always do, which is interesting.
There are typically three types that we're talking about here, someone who actually has psychotic tendencies, someone who has psychopathic tendencies, or someone who has been heavily traumatized in youth.
Jared Loughner, for example, somebody we reported on quite a bit. He clearly had psychotic tendencies. And one of the Columbine killers had clear clues dating back of psychopathic tendencies. He had sadistic behavior. He had been delinquent with his parents quite a bit. And he also, I don't know if you remember this, Anderson, but he was actually -- he was laughing at the time that he was actually committing these murders at Columbine High School.
The point is that hardly anyone ever really just snaps. We have the benefit of hindsight in these situations. But the real point here is that were there some clues, and there almost always is.
COOPER: So that notion of just snapping, that doesn't really turn out to be the case, that usually there are people who actually -- sometimes I've heard -- there was a Secret Service report done that they actually talked to other kids, other people about what they're going to do.
GUPTA: And if they do that, a very important point, if they actually talk to someone as opposed to being isolated, it is a great inhibitor of actually carrying out the activity.
Once you start to talk to other people, either because they talk you out of it, or you yourself get some greater context of what it is you're talking about, it almost always inhibits the activity. So simply talking about it with a loved one and other people in the school.
Columbine was unusual in that way because there was two people together. But almost always it is a single person who has not really discussed this plan with anybody else.
COOPER: Is there, I mean obviously you talk about some of the mental health issues. Are a lot of them on medication, off medication?
GUPTA: This is really interesting. Almost all of them were on some type of medication. And if you dig a little bit deeper with that, what you find is that there is a vulnerable period. It is when someone is starting medications or when they're going off.
And typically they're antidepressants. Not all psychotropic medications. At that point when they're either going on or going off, they can be of great benefit, but you can have increased impulsiveness, decreased judgment, and loss of touch with reality.
Those are the three symptoms that they describe to me. And remember, Anderson, they should be monitored at that time. But in a mental health system the way it is now, they get the prescription, and hardly any follow-up.
COOPER: Doctors have told me that if you are on antidepressants and you just stop, that you should not just stop. You really need to be under supervision and taper off.
GUPTA: That's right.
COOPER: And it seems like some of these people didn't.
GUPTA: No. And you know, the whole monitoring notion involves building trust with a psychiatrist, being able to call that person, not simply getting a prescription. And, you know, this isn't to indict the mental health system., but it's just basically saying there is not enough resources. They can barely see the people that they need to see. This idea of being able to monitor them, again, at these vulnerable periods, it's not happening. I talked to psychiatrists today, several of them. This is incredibly frustrating for them.
COOPER: Also over the years, there has been a lot of focus on the rights of the patient, understandably, because there were abuses before. I guess I wonder, has it gone too far? Because I've heard from parents who say they know they have troubles with a child or with even an adult child, but they can't do something unless that person has committed a crime or is proven to be dangerous.
GUPTA: That's right. Imminent threat to themselves or to others, what an unbelievable standard. Think about it. It's like saying you would have to be having a heart attack to be treated for your heart disease. It just doesn't make any sense.
It goes against everything we think of as doctors. The other option is basically to put them into the criminal justice system. And now you're asking parents to essentially create a police record for your child.
COOPER: And frankly, that is the reality that is happening. I mean, our prisons are full of people who have mental issues.
GUPTA: That's right. People always talk about this notion that families are denying the symptoms, they're ignoring them. That could be happening, but you know, the people that I talked to, that's not the case. These families, they anguish over what is happening with their children. They just don't have good options, and again, even if they get the meds, they are to be monitored, especially when they are going on and off. And they don't get that. So there are so many potential breakdowns in the system. These are fixable problems, but it's not working the way it is.
COOPEER: And there just needs to be a will and a continued discussion. Because often we discuss these things in the media in the wake of something like this and then stop, and nothing ever changes.
Sanjay, I appreciate the report. We'll look into that.
A lot of people think that mass shooters are loners who simply snap, as Sanjay said, and go on killing sprees. In her book "Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings," the social roots, Katherine Newman says it's not that simple, not by a long shot.
She has done a lot of research on school shootings and joins me now. I appreciate you being back on the program. You've studied rampage shootings like the one dating back to the 1970s. You say there are a lot of myths about them. Talk to me about some of those myths.
KATHERINE NEWMAN, "RAMPAGE: THE SOCIAL ROOTS OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS": One of the myths is the idea that people snap. But we found that sometimes they plan these things as much as nine months in advance.
Another myth is that they are loners. They're very rarely loners, but they're people who have a lot of trouble in their social interactions, there is this friction all around them.
I have to say contrary to what you were just talking about, that in the case of the shooters we looked at, they were almost never diagnosed or under treatment. And so they're often people who are completely missed by the mental health system. And we find out about their mental disorders in forensic settings after the fact. We also discover that they tell people a lot about what they're planning to do, but they do so in a way that is very difficult to interpret. They say things that are rather veiled and confusing. And because what they plan to do is so outlandish and so inconceivable, the people around them don't really know how to interpret what they've heard.
So they get a lot of information circulating, but that doesn't come to the adults who might be able to intervene because the kids have a hard time interpreting exactly what those veiled warnings mean.
COOPER: I mean, we seem to see mostly males, young males committing these horrible crimes. Is there -- is there a reason why that is?
NEWMAN: Well, girls do other things, I'm sorry to say that are damaging to themselves. But they tend to be turning inward, whereas boys tend to be exploding outward.
And that's partly because of the images that they receive in popular culture, which lionize this kind of violence. Obviously not against children, but the trenchcoat mafia, the sort of gunman is a figure we recognize.
And from the viewpoint of these very marginal boys, it looks more appealing than the dweebie loner misfit. And so what they're seeking to do most of the time is solve a problem. And the problem is they don't like the way other people perceive them, and they want to change it.
And when they start talking about shooting people, all of the sudden those peer groups start paying attention to them. And now they've made a kind of commitment or promise what they're going to do, and they find they can't back down out of it or it would be one more social failure.
COOPER: That's interesting. So in some cases, actually talking about it, having said something to others, it kind of builds up the momentum or the pressure for them to actually act out on it?
NEWMAN: It does, Anderson. I mean, they're usually quite ambivalent about what they're going to do. But what pushes them past the ambivalence is the possibility that they might have one more complete social disaster in which they've made promises, and now they're not going to fulfill them, and everybody is going to be laughing at them now.
And it is amazing how much that motives this behavior. They're not thinking about how they're going to kill people or destroy a town. They're thinking about how other people are going to see them differently.
Look at the pictures of the shooter in the Virginia Tech case. There he was with guns blazing and a flak jacket and he looks like Rambo. Well, that looks a lot better to him, I'm sorry to say than the dweebie image of the reject and misfit.
COOPER: And just very briefly, politicians talk about video games. Does that -- have you seen any link?
NEWMAN: There is a link, Anderson, but it's not the link we usually think of. Often people think that video games will somehow inspire people to feel rage and go out and enact it.
Instead, what we saw was that video games just like films present an image of masculinity that is tied to violence, and sort of glamorizes it, and makes these boys who don't feel very glamorous think that if they can just do that, other people are going to turn around and look at them differently. So rather than inspiring a kind of boiling rage, what it does is present an image of how a masculine boy, you know, could act and be noticed.
COOPER: Right. Interesting. Katherine Newman, I appreciate you being on. We'll talk to you again. Thank you very much.
Some of the children and even adults in Newtown are getting comfort from volunteers on four legs. How these amazing therapy dogs found their way here, in just a moment.
COOPER: Two of those little girls with President Obama are Emilie Parker's sisters. The 6-year-old Emilie was one of the 20 children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. President Obama met with victims' families and first responders last night before he spoke at that memorial service.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide it. Whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it. Newtown, you are not alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: They are not. So many strangers have reached out to this broken community, including some volunteers who drove here from the Midwest with their therapy dogs. I've said before that words can seem so small at times like this. And there are no words, really, and that's what is so great about dogs. Here is Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nine golden retrievers on the march, making their way into a recreation center in Newtown, Connecticut, for an emotional rescue to help comfort the children who survived the attack at Sandy Hook elementary and other children in town.
Therapeutic canines who are sponsored and trained by Lutheran Church Charities, transported in a van for a 900-mile ride from Illinois.
(on camera): Let me give you a quick introduction to all the dogs here. This is Chewy. This is Ruthie, Abby, Prince, look at the name, Luther.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maggie.
TUCHMAN: Maggie. Hanna.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barney.
TUCHMAN: Barney, and?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shammy.
TUCHMAN: Shammy. These are the comfort dogs. What is a comfort dog?
TIM HETZNER, LUTHERAN CHURCH CHARITIES: A comfort dog is one who brings comfort to other people when they're suffering or hurting, or bring happiness to people. Helps people process their grief.
TUCHMAN: So they are specially trained?
HETZNER: They are specially trained. These are all specially trained service dogs. We don't use them with disabled. But we use that training, and then we train them additionally to work with all different age groups and people.
To some people, and we've seen this with children, it brings a sense of calmness in a time of confusion for them during this period. To some it helps them process their grief. They'll start crying, and they'll hug the dog. And to some children they'll come up sad and they'll walk away happy.
TUCHMAN: Do you know that Luther is incapable of being mean? Luther is a friendly dog.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hayden loves dogs.
TUCHMAN: When does training begin to be a comfort dog? HETZNER: Five and a half weeks. We buy puppies at five and a half weeks and turn them upside down and how their temperament is and from that point on --
TUCHMAN: You turn them upside down. So if they are turned upside down and they flail, they can't be a comfort dog?
HETZNER: Right. Our initial screening is if they can be relaxed in that position, then we start the next process, which is a trainer that works with them one-on-one for the next eight months to a year.
TUCHMAN: And where else have your dogs been? What other disasters?
HETZNER: Our dogs a month ago when Sandy hit, we were out in New York and New Jersey. We have been in Indiana with the floodings. We had dogs out in Joplin, Missouri.
TUCHMAN: Come here! This is Luther. He is a comfort dog. You can pet him. It says right here, "please pet me." How do you feel when you see a child come up to one of your dogs who has been in this kind of situation and has a big smile on their face?
HETZNER: Tears. They smile, I cry.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): And amid the continuing sadness here, there were a lot of smiles.
COOPER: Nothing better than seeing dog's tail wagging like that. Gary Tuchman joins me now. The dogs were great. Were you able to tell the how the parents of Sandy Hook kids reacted to them?
TUCHMAN: It's a little hard to hear what you just said, but I think you're asking about how this all works. And let me tell you my unscientific fines of what I learned today. Kids love stuffed animals, especially big stuffed animals. These are basically stuffed animals that walk, wag their tails and lick. They don't bite, they don't growl, and they want to be petted 100 percent of the time. It's very comforting for these children. And what we're basically finding is this is the exact antithesis of what happened in this town on Friday.
COOPER: Yes, Gary, I appreciate that report. Bringing a smile to a lot of people's faces today. Gary, thanks.
Coming up next, the parents of Grace McDonnell remember their daughter, the amazing girl they called Gracie.
COOPER: Looking at pictures of a live vigil at the makeshift memorial that is growing with each passing day and night. Earlier I mentioned I spoke with the parents of 7-year-old Grace McDonnell. Today, they invited us into their home. They wanted to speak about their daughter. Chris and Lynn McDonnell helped us to get to know Grace and the happiness she brought them and their son Jack and everyone she touched.
We're going to bring you that full interview tomorrow. We did want to share some of what they said with you tonight. Lynn McDonnell told us how they don't want to have hate in their hearts about what happened. Listen to some of what she had to say.
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LYNN MCDONNELL, MOTHER OF GRACE MCDONNELL: I had said that to Jack, that it's OK to be angry, because sure, we have anger, and we're upset, and we don't know why. But I told Jack that he could never live with hate. Grace didn't have an ounce of hate in her.
And so we have to live through Grace and realize that hate is not how our family is and certainly not how Grace is. And I know all those beautiful little children. They didn't have any hate in them either. So we'll just take the lead from them and we will not go down that road, but we'll let them guide us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: During the interview, we were talking about Grace. And I mentioned that one of my favorite songs is "Amazing Grace," and that it always makes me cry. I said I'll never hear that song again without thinking of their Grace. And Lynn liked that idea.
But she wanted to make sure that when you hear that song, you smile, that you don't cry. Another thing that Lynn said is that it gives her some comfort to think that Grace died with her friends and that they were holding hands when they died. She likes to think of them all in heaven, all 20 of those little children, all holding hands together right now.
(MUSIC, "AMAZING GRACE")
COOPER: "Amazing Grace." That does it for us. Thanks very much for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.