Middle Tennessee Man Tried To Help Connecticut Shooter
Richard Novia was the Director of Security for all of Newtown's Public Schools until 2008.
Zoe Novia knew Adam Lanza.
MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. - Richard Novia, like the rest of us, has been glued to his television watching the images and details from the Connecticut school shooting unfold. But for him, the news strikes an even deeper chord because he knows so many of those affected personally, including the shooter.
"I've had overwhelming urges to [get on] a flight and return to what I consider home," Novia explained.
Before moving to Maury County, he and his family lived in Newtown, Connecticut for 25 years.
His daughter Zoe even attended Sandy Hook Elementary school.
"[At] Sandy Hook you wouldn't have to worry about going to school or anything," she recalled about her time there.
Until 2008, Richard Novia was the Director of Security for all of Newtown's Public Schools.
"I think in a security aspect, we were probably one of the finest around," he said.
Now their hometown is consumed with grief at the hands of 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who just a few years ago Novia remembers trying to help. In his position Novia not only ensured that the district had the technology in place to assure students' safety, he also took strides to develop programs to better connect with students.
"He had some social disorders, poor personal skills that we felt strongly that we could develop," Richard Novia said. "He was highly intelligent. But how do you inject him into the system and try to develop him in a sense socially?"
Lanza, Novia said, was part of a technology club he created for high school students; especially targeting those who were considered outsiders.
"You had to be very careful with him as well. Just keeping an eye on him," Zoe Novia remembers. "If you needed to get his attention and you were to touch him he wouldn't have known really. You had to verbalize that you were trying to get his attention."
Still no one ever thought Lanza was capable of carrying out the second deadliest mass shooting in history.
"He was very polite. He always had a button down shirt. Very well-dressed kid," Zoe Novia said.
"Mrs. Lanza was," Richard Novia paused to gather his thoughts. "God that's so tragic. She was a good mother who pretty much doted over her boys. She was part of their education and their growth on a much higher level than I was used to."
One thousand miles away, there's not much Richard Novia can do about this tragedy, but he hopes his insight can keep it from happening again.
"There is a way to prevent these things, or having a much better chance of preventing them from happening in the future."
Novia has spent more than 30 years in the security industry and said schools should adopt similar programs to the CIA and FBI. By profiling specific students, giving them more help and monitoring their activity all in hopes of uncovering plans for an attack before it's carried out.
Local school districts assure parents that their children are in safe hands.Tennessee requires every school have a security plan, which includes emergency procedures that require an evacuation or a lockdown.
Most schools have secure entrances that have security cameras and require visitors to buzz in.