(Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)
The mother of one of the children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, said she hopes the 20-year-old shooter, Adam Lanza, has been forgiven and is in heaven with the children.
"I absolutely believe that Adam Lanza was instantly forgiven," the mother, Scarlett Lewis, said of her 6-year-old-son Jesse, who was killed in the shooting, according to Fox News. "My hope is that he is experiencing the same kind of love that the children are now, in heaven. He might have had a little bit longer journey to get there, but I hope he has."
Nineteen other children, and 26 people in total, were killed one year ago from Saturday. The gunman, Lanza, first killed his mother, Nancy, at their home, after which he stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary in a shooting rampage, before ending his own life.
The families of the victims have shared their numerous stories of grief and recovery over the past year, and Americans across the country have joined in several church vigils for the victims, coming together to pray for no more school violence.
Lanza has been described as a quiet young man who did not like leaving his room and suffered from mental problems, but even an in-depth investigation that was conducted recently into the case failed to come up with any solid conclusions about why he decided to commit the murders and take his own life.
The Obama administration has responded with pledges to help mental health facilities across America, and earlier this week announced it is giving $100 million for that cause.
"The fact that less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need is unacceptable," Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement. "The president and I have made it a priority to do everything we can to make it easier to access mental health services, and today's announcements by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture build on that commitment."
Lewis, however, suggested that an "angry thought" festered for years inside the 20-year-old gunman before the rampage, a thought which went untreated and unreported.
"I picture him (Lanza) being a little boy with a lot of anger and no tools and no nurturing environment to deal with it," the mother said.
An organization has since been started in honor of her son, aimed at funding school programs to educate children on compassion, anger-management and bullying – called the "Jessie Lewis Choose Love Foundation."
As for forgiving the young man who killed her son, Lewis said that her older son's work with victims of Rwanda's 1994 genocide has helped her deal with her feelings.
"It gave me perspective. If they're able to forgive – if they can actually do it – then it is possible in my own situation. It doesn't mean you're condoning what they did. It means that you're cutting the cord to pain," Lewis said.
JT Lewis started the "Newtown Helps Rwanda" foundation as a way to deal with the loss of his little brother, focusing his efforts on helping those affected by the genocide, where over 1 million people lost their lives and over 1 million children were left orphaned.
The official website of the Jesse Lewis Foundation states that it will teach kids that anger is a choice and that it "benefits them and all those around them to choose another way. If all of our actions are motivated by love and compassion for others – if we all live by The Golden Rule – the world will change for the better."