The families of shooters often claim that they had no idea. I wonder how much of that is true. What is certain is that having a killer in the family is often the worst thing that will ever happen to them:
The family of 22-year-old Jared Loughner reportedly returned home from a grocery shopping trip on Saturday to unthinkable news: Their son had allegedly shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and 19 others, killing six.
The family has remained silent since the shooting, barricaded from the press in their Tucson, Ariz., home. Psychologists say the parents must be experiencing devastating grief and perhaps guilt over the son's actions. But there is no roadmap for the Loughners' experience, and only a few parents have stood in their shoes.
Families such as the Loughners often choose to avoid the public view. The families of Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold kept almost completely silent for years. It wasn't until 2004 — five years after the tragedy — that the Klebolds spoke to the media in any depth. They told New York Times columnist David Brooks that they had no inkling of their son's intentions. Nor did they have time to grieve for their child, said Dylan's mother, Susan Klebold. (Both Harris and Klebold committed suicide after killing 13 and wounding two dozen more in their high school.) In 2009, Susan Klebold, Dylan's mom, wrote an article in O Magazine describing herself as "insane with sorrow" for months after the shooting.
"It was impossible to believe that someone I had raised could cause so much suffering," Klebold wrote. As she blamed herself for not seeing that her son needed help, the public blamed her and her husband for raising a "monster," she recalled.
After the 2007 massacre of 32 people at Virginia Tech, Sun-Kyung Cho, the sister of shooter Seung-Hui Cho, released a statement apologizing for the devastation caused by her brother.
"We never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence," Cho wrote. "He has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare."