Foiled School Bomber's Father Reflects On Lessons Learned From Thwarted AttackPlay
In February, we spoke with John LaDue of Minnesota, one of dozens of thwarted school attackers. He had bomb-making materials ready to go in a storage locker in 2014 when he was caught. LaDue says he had been a good student, but there was a slow decline.
John got help and said he was embarrassed that he thought of ever hurting others. His father, David LaDue, has learned a lot from the experience, and shares the lessons with Here & Now's Robin Young.
On how he would have described his son back then
"Seemed to be doing fine, very attentive to detail, motivated in his pursuits. Not very interested in anything that wasn't on his radar."
On a story that John, in fourth grade, donated his $200 of savings to a fundraiser for a child who had been killed by an intruder
"I was very surprised because his reaction seemed quite muted. Like, a lot of his reactions, he wasn't a very, what I would call an extremely outgoing person."
On if there's anything he feels he could have learned from John's behavior, anything he could impart to another parent
"Possibly. I don't know how — in the current environment, it's very strange. I guess anything that I felt was a concern, most people that I know would think I'm kind of an extremist and I'm worrying about phantoms. His lack of violence or even general lack of anger issues. He might have had frustrations over things and we talked about things, but there's nothing really concrete to hang onto. And I think I should've demanded more interaction with him and him to explain to me why he seems to be increasingly reluctant to spend more free time around other people rather than spending more time by himself."
"The best thing to do is stay close to your kids and friends and family, and keep them informed, and talk about these things, and pay attention to people's behavior."David LaDue
On the abundance of violence in society
"I spent a lot of time concerned about violence and wondering about violence in movies and violence in video games. And the murder videos that are available online. That's just shocking. I had complained to my daughter, separately, about a coworker watching these execution videos all the time at work. And she said, 'Oh, I know. That's terrible. That's going on in school all the time. All these kids in homeroom, there's four kids or five kids always sitting together watching these execution videos.' And then to find out that John was doing that, too. Covering his tracks good enough, we didn't see it. But I can only imagine what that does to people to watch that. If you watch it enough where you start to get inured to it. I assume that's what he was trying to do, is trying to put himself in that mindset where, 'things don't matter. I don't care about things.' ... I think we're really not giving due credit to how much violence is out there. And I'm not a big censorship person. So if we're not going to censor everything, and of course we can't, the best thing to do is stay close to your kids and friends and family, and keep them informed, and talk about these things, and pay attention to people's behavior."
On his concerns for John
"The year before, he was asking — he wanted to put a lock on his bedroom door. And I was like, 'Absolutely not.' He actually bought a hasp and lock. And I was like — I noticed he had my cordless drill out, and he was in his room. I was like, 'What's this for?' 'Oh, I wanted to put this on my door.' I was like, 'What? No.' I guess later he found somebody that would rent him a storage locker.
"My biggest concern was when he expressed a belief in atheistic outlook, and some of the statements he had made were very concerning to me. And most people that I know would think there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Not all atheists are violent people. And he certainly hadn't been a violent person. But the negativity that he was beginning to express was a quite mild version of it. This kind of negative outlook on people and why we're here made me feel compelled to pray for him. I asked for intervention on his behalf, and within two weeks from that day we certainly got it. We got it way more than we would have ever imagined. And it was interesting, I found myself sitting talking to my son at Red Wing juvenile detention facility talking to him about parables in the Bible as he was trying to understand them. He was given one there and was having difficulty understanding it. And I just thought, here we are. Three months ago I was praying for an intervention. And now here he is willing to contemplate things in life that he hadn't been prior to that. So I guess I got what I was asking for. Very thankful for that. Nobody was injured, especially himself or his friends."
On his relief
"I was relieved but very fearful for him, what would happen to him in the system. I knew they wanted to put him away for 40 years to life. And some of the reporting and some of the facts, I think, got very convoluted, which made it very much a public issue here.
"I understand they needed to be careful. But I wish they would have been careful to clarify that there were no guns in the storage locker. All the guns were mine all, the ammunition was mine."
On his access to guns
"Most of what I had was hunting weapons, one for him and one for his sister and one for me, several different types of guns. I was the one that put the gun safe in his room, that Christmas after he had turned 17. I was gone very often in the evening, and he was the only person at home. I wanted him to know where the guns were and how to get a hold of them. Now in light of all this, of course, that's a question. That's a big question. I know it's not an unusual situation for a 17-year-old in this town to know where they can get their hands on a shotgun. That would be a big change, as far as keeping everything completely locked away. But, of course, yes, I do. ... First of all, I'm not worried about him. He's like a poison-proof dog. You could leave a gun, loaded gun, on the table, and he wouldn't touch it. ... I trust who he is. He's the one that doesn't want any more trouble. He's the one that's a felon, that will get locked up for that."
This article was originally published on June 05, 2018.
This segment aired on June 5, 2018.