December 16, 2012

Shooting Monster Felt No Physical Pain?

Monique Chartier

Usually, I look through news sites (a couple of times per day) for the latest developments in politics and, especially, for news on Rhode Island politics and gov't. For the last couple of days, however, it's been stories about the horrendous Connecticut shooting that I've been compelled to click on.

Some information is now coming out about the twenty year old shooter - not from the police, who are still very much conducting their investigation, but from the people who interacted with him first hand and who are, naturally, communicating some of their experiences with the press.

Well into the second page of a CBS News report this morning, we learn about one such piece of new information - a chilling one.

Richard Novia, the school district's head of security until 2008, who also served as adviser for the school technology club, of which Lanza was a member, said he clearly "had some disabilities."

"If that boy would've burned himself, he would not have known it or felt it physically," Novia said in a phone interview. "It was my job to pay close attention to that."

A Telegraph (UK) article also references this condition (?).

"A few years ago when he was on the baseball team, everyone had to be careful that he didn't fall because he could get hurt and not feel it," said the friend.

Don't misunderstand me. Nothing that comes out, confirmation of no mental handicap or physical condition, will change my view that the shooter was and acted out of pure evil when he entered that school. If true, however, the revelation that, for whatever physical or psychological reason, the shooter did not notice physical pain when he himself experienced it is a scary and disturbing piece of information to emerge.


Joe Bernstein, whom I'm going to make my unofficial spokesperson (only half kidding), says that I am way off base.

Monique-the condition you describe is dysautonomia and is very dangerous because people who have it cannot recognize symptoms accompanied by pain and they can be unaware of a serious injury. It doesn't correlate with violent behavior in any way.
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Monique - "the shooter was and acted out of pure evil when he entered that school."

Unless we are to believe in demonic possession, there must be some explanation. It is unlikely that any explanation will appeal to rational analysis. Since a confession is impossible, any explanation offered will be speculative and in accord with our cultural biases. As yet, he is not reported to have said anything which might suggest an explanation. An altercation with teachers is reported. Without more, this is not an explanation.

I wonder if his suicide was motivated by remorse, or an unwillingness to face the consequences.

There may be no explanation. Consider the case of the 19th century Chicago doctor whose house contained the bodies of 96 people he had murdered. There has been no "explanation".

Posted by: Warrington Faust at December 16, 2012 10:29 AM

Monique-the condition you describe is dysautonomia and is very dangerous because people who have it cannot recognize symptoms accompanied by pain and they can be unaware of a serious injury.It doesn't correlate with violent behavior in any way.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 16, 2012 11:51 AM

Monique-I can barely speak for myself at times,but thank you.I'd say you do a very good job of expressing your thoughts here without any help.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 16, 2012 4:10 PM


From AP news reports:

“A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the unfolding investigation, has said Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger's, a mild form of autism often characterized by social awkwardness.

People with the disorder are often highly intelligent. While they can become frustrated more easily, there is no evidence of a link between Asperger's and violent behavior, experts say.”

What really disturbs me about this whole event; the way he killed his mother sleeping in bed and the fact that he had a vast number of 30 round clips fully loaded with military fragmentation rounds (high velocity bullets that break apart as they enter the body causing extensive tissue damage) and hundreds of additional rounds enough to massacre everyone in the entire school according to latest police and AP news reports. Besides the AR-15 assault rifle and 2 hand guns he also had a shotgun in the car.

There has to be a trail how all those military fragmentation rounds ended up in one house without setting off red flags.

The mother who was in the front office that immediately called 911 on her cell phone is a hero for getting law enforcement to the school fast forcing Lanza to break off his attack and commit suicide.

Posted by: KenW at December 16, 2012 6:15 PM

ken W-are you talking about frangible ammo?The military can't use that.There is no such thing as "military fragmentation rounds"-all military ammo is FMJ.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 16, 2012 7:23 PM

Joe, Ken has probably been taken in by poor reporting. Only law enforcement uses the hollow point ammo described. As you say, it is illegal for the military.

The numbers do not shock me. I probably have 2000 rounds of .22 around the house. Some of that could be described as "fragmentation". "It was on sale!"

Posted by: Warrington Faust at December 16, 2012 10:33 PM

I assume we are looking for a "reason" for this tragedy. That would aid in preventing future events.

I think we have to accept that, every so often, someone will "go around the bend". The reasons will defy rationality and seem inexplicable, that is the way it is. It does seem to me, that at least in this case, no one was watching the door. Still, these events are so rare that "door watchers" will become bored.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at December 16, 2012 10:41 PM

joe Bernstein,

When I went thru pre-jungle combat and survival training before deployment to Viet Nam with the Air Force there was a high velocity round that was pointed out to us in training (can’t remember what color tip) that was designed to fragment entering the body causing extensive tissues damage from fragments. This was also pointed out during basic training in TX as the range training instructors trained us to just shoot for the stomach or mid-body and the round fragments in body will do the rest of the work.

The CT Medical Examiner and the CT State Police were the ones that identified the military rounds of this nature in an AP news report.

Posted by: KenW at December 16, 2012 10:47 PM

I took my pre deployment training on the M16 at Fort Sill,an army base,and don't remember ever seeing such a round.All we had in Vietnam were FMJ's.I have seen black tipped rounds which are armor piercing.
I know frangible bullets are easy to buy anywhere and can do horrendous damage. on someone not wearing a vest or heavy clothing.
We'll be hearing more on this I am sure.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 16, 2012 11:05 PM

My copy of the Army JAG Law of War Deskbook says that U.S. practice is to accede to traditional international prohibitions on ammunition which is "calculated to cause unnecessary suffering." As a rule, only jacketed small arms ammunition may be used. Frangible rounds might be permissible in certain special situations, such as hostage rescue, where limiting penetration is necessary to avoid civilian casualties.

If someone in the media is referring to frangible rounds as "military" it betrays a level of ignorance about firearms and ammunition which is all too typical of most of the press.

Posted by: David P at December 16, 2012 11:18 PM

joe Bernstein and Warrington Faust,

Normal 5.56 mm NATO round used in the AR-16 which is like the .223 Remington round used in the AR-15 round but when penetrates soft tissue has the tendency to yaw and fragment causing additional tissue damage.

However USA may/might/maybe/did use or did not use hollow points. Cartridge, Caliber 5.56 mm, Special Ball, Long Range, Mk 262 Mod 0/1 (United States): 5.56×45mm 77-grain Open-Tipped Match/Hollow-Point Boat-Tail cartridge. Mod 0 features Sierra Matching bullet, while Mod 1 features either Nosier or Sierra bullet.

Mk 262

The Mk 262 is a match quality round manufactured by Black Hills Ammunition made originally for the Special Purpose Rifle (SPR). It uses a 77-grain (5.0 g) Sierra MatchKing bullet that is more effective at longer ranges than the standard issue M855 round.

Two versions of the round have been procured to date. Initial production runs, designated Mark 262 Mod 0, lacked a cannelure. Subsequent production, designated Mk 262 Mod 1, added a cannelure to the bullet for effective crimping.

According to US DoD sources, the Mk 262 round is capable of making kills at 700 meters. Ballistics tests found that the round caused "consistent initial yaw in soft tissue" at more than 300 meters. Apparently it is superior to the standard M855 round when fired from an M4 or M16 rifle. It evidently possesses superior stopping power, and can allow for engagements to be extended to up to 700 meters. It appears that this round can drastically improve the performance of any AR15 platform weapon chambered to .223/5.56 mm. Superior accuracy, wounding capacity, stopping power and range power has made this the preferred round of many Special Forces operators, and highly desirable as a replacement for the older, Belgian-designed 5.56×45mm M855 NATO round. Hard target penetration is slightly decreased.

Posted by: KenW at December 16, 2012 11:24 PM

Ken-a 223 can be fired in any AR type 223 firearm,but a 5.56 can not be safely fired in a rifle/carbine chambered specifically for 223.
Anyway-there was apparently an argument of some sort the preceding between the shooter and 4 teachers,3 of whom are deceased.The 4th one must have something of interest to say about it and why weren't the police called when it occurred,seeing as it was a school and he had no business there.Maybe the whole incident could have been prevented.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 17, 2012 12:34 AM

joe Bernstein.

I totally agree that the 4th person needs to be interviewed as to what actually preceded this incident.

It is a known documented fact that he tried to purchase a weapon on Tuesday long before the run in with the teachers on Thursday (what was he thinking and doing on an elementary school campus?). Your question about calling the police on Thursday is the same as mine.

It has been reported the school doors had new safety locks but not safety glass. He broke the viewing glass, reached in and opened the door.

He attended college courses at age 16 and had above a 3.0 average. This guy was no dummy.

On an AR-15 if the upper and lower chambers are set for .223/5.56 mm you can use 5.56 rounds.

There were a lot of exotic mixes on my Nam base weapons target range.

My base had a lot of Aussie, White Horse Division Korean, Turks and Air Force Special Forces as we had no Army around us except for Army LRRPs in the hills and mountains around us. Sometime the Army 101st actually used us for R&R!

Posted by: KenW at December 17, 2012 1:11 AM

Ken-I know very little about "black rifles"or AK's.I am basically a handgun shooter.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 17, 2012 6:01 AM

Much as I feel for all of the children slain, I was taken by Joe's remark about someone shooting a previous employer after being fired.

I assumed this was a reference to the incident at the Empire State Building where 11 people were "killed or injured". It turned out that the "gunman" shot only one person, the other ten (including two policemen) were shot or killed by law enforcement. I thought that was a substantial story, it died within two days.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at December 17, 2012 8:01 AM
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