- A Colorado man wrote an open letter in which he said he almost committed a mass shooting in his teens but didn't because he lacked access to assault weapons and experienced a random act of kindness from a friend.
- "I had a severe lack of love, and I really think this kid did too," he told MSNBC, referring the suspect in last week's shooting at a high school in Florida.
A Colorado resident said in a letter to a Denver news station said he "was almost a school shooter" but is not because he "didn't have access to guns."
In the letter, Aaron Stark says that as a teenager in 1996, he made plans to commit a mass shooting at North High School in Denver and then take his own life. What stopped him, he said, was a lack of easy access to high-powered guns.
"Guns don't kill people, people kill people," Stark wrote. "But people with guns kill lots of people."
Stark's letter describes a rough childhood in which he was abused and neglected at home and faced relentless bullying at school for his weight, intelligence, and frequently unwashed clothes.
Depressed and homicidal, Stark felt he had nothing to live for, he said.
"When someone has nothing to lose, they can do anything, and that thought should be terrifying," he wrote.
During an emotional interview on MSNBC on Tuesday, he said: "I was going to try and kill a lot of people and then kill myself. It was not directed at the people; it was directed at myself."
Stark told MSNBC that while "we really need to have a hard look at the effect that guns have," he believes that ultimately love and connectedness can help prevent people from committing mass shootings.
Stark drew parallels between his life and that of Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in last week's shooting at a high school in Florida that left 17 people dead.
Cruz is said to have had a troubled upbringing and felt disconnected from his home life. After his adoptive mother died last year, Cruz stayed with a family, who told CNN this week that he described himself as depressed.
Stark wrote in his letter: "So yes, mental health was an issue. A bigger issue was love. I had a severe lack of love, and I really think this kid did too."
When asked during the MSNBC interview whether love alone had been enough to stop him from acting out on his homicidal and suicidal feelings, Stark shared a heartfelt personal story.
"It literally did," Stark said tearfully. "That is literally what happened that stopped me from carrying out my plan."
He added: "I was extremely suicidal one evening, and a friend of mine, without having any idea what was going on and what state I was in, invited me over for a party that I didn't know was existing. She had baked me a blueberry-peach pie, and I got there, and everybody had the pie, and it was all for me."
He said that made the difference.
"That literally saved my life that night," he said. "I wasn't going to survive that night if that hadn't happened."
Watch Stark's interview:
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