Letter from therapist recounts red flags for Parkland killer

Letter from therapist recounts red flags for Parkland killer
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The mass shooting at a Parkland, FL high school was a horrific tragedy. Even dismissing the role it may have played in the gun control debate, it definitely made a mark on the American psyche.

Yet one thing that we cannot get past is that it was completely and totally avoidable. It didn’t have to happen.

We know the killer had a long and violent history, one that should have disqualified him from buying a gun, only law enforcement never did anything about it.

Now, we know that there was a dark fascination with murder going way back.

Four years before [killer’s name redacted] murdered 17 people at a Florida high school, therapists at another school wrote a letter to his psychiatrist saying he was fixated on guns and dreamed of killing others and being covered in blood, testimony at his penalty trial showed Thursday.

Dr. Nyrma N. Ortiz and therapist Rona O’Connor Kelly’s two-page letter addressed to Negin says [the killer], then 15, was experiencing extreme mood swings, adding, “He is usually very irritable and reactive.” They said he is “inappropriately” obsessed with guns and the military, defiant, verbally aggressive toward his teachers, paranoid and places the blame on others for the problems he creates.

“At home, he continues to be aggressive and destructive with minimal provocation,” the two wrote. He destroyed a television after losing a video game, punched holes in walls and used sharp objects to cut up the furniture and carve holes in the bathroom. He had a hatchet that he used to chop a dead tree in the back yard, but his mother reported she could no longer find it.

[The killer] shared at school “he dreams of killing others and is covered in blood.”

The truth is that this jackwagon never got the help. A physician who treated him for a decade before his homicidal rampage claims he was completely unaware of these inclinations, but the letter from the therapist suggests otherwise.

I can’t say I won’t get into the blame game here, because I find it unavoidable. After all, 17 people were murdered and it happened not because an 18-year-old could buy a gun, but because just about every adult the killer encountered during his youth willfully ignored every warning sign out there.

Had this kid gotten the help he needed, how would the world be different right now? For 17 people and their families, it would be incalculably better. The same for the many who were wounded, some of whom will never do what they once could.

I’ve been harsh on the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in the years since the shooting, and I don’t regret anything I’ve said about them. The department as a whole screwed the pooch by not arresting the twerp for domestic violence. That arrest, assuming a conviction, would have made him ineligible to buy the murder weapon.

But Parkland didn’t just happen because of them. It’s pretty clear that people screwed up by the numbers, ignoring the warning signs that, at best, this kid was severely disturbed and needed intense help.

Had he gotten it, most of us would never know the name Parkland. There are a lot of names we wouldn’t know and we’d be better off not knowing because it would mean such a horrific event never took place.

You see, the problem isn’t a lack of gun control. The problem is that people in place who might have gotten this kid the help he needed before he became a monster simply didn’t. If you look at most mass shooters, you see this kind of thing.

It’s never the guns that are the problem, it’s the people. The killers are responsible for events like Parkland, but there are often legions who could have prevented it and didn’t.