Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sandy Hook report sheds no light on motive

Sandy Hook report sheds no light on motive
By Liz Goodwin & Dylan Stableford
A summary of the nearly year-long investigation into the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was released by the Connecticut state attorney Monday, shedding little new light on the shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 children, on Dec. 14, 2012.

The 48-page report describes how 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at their Newtown home before driving to the school, forcing his way in and fatally shooting 20 first-graders and six educators with an assault rifle.

But it does not establish a motive for Lanza, who turned a gun on himself as police arrived.

The report concluded Lanza acted alone.

Lanza clearly had mental health issues, but prosecutors have no idea whether they contributed to his decision to take the lives of 20 children — a decision they say was meticulously premeditated. And they do not know why he chose Sandy Hook Elementary School for his crime, except perhaps that it was close to his home.

As was revealed in warrants released earlier this year, police uncovered a cache of weapons during its investigation:

• A Bushmaster Model XM 15-E2S semi-automatic rifle, found in the same classroom as the Lanza’s body.

• A Glock 20, 10 mm semi-automatic pistol, which Lanza used to kill himself.

• A Sig Sauer P226, 9 mm semi-automatic pistol found on Lanza.

• A Izhmash Saiga-12, 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun found in Lanza's car in the parking lot outside the school "and which was secured in the vehicle’s trunk by police responding to the scene."

• And a Savage Mark II rifle found at the Lanza home near the bed where Nanzy Lanza’s body was found.

All of the firearms were legally purchased by Nancy Lanza, who was not "in any way aware of her son’s plans," the report said. In fact, Nancy Lanza "wanted to buy the shooter a CZ 83 pistol for Christmas and had prepared a check for that purchase."

The report details Adam Lanza's interests at length: playing violent and non-violent video games, target shooting with his mother and building computers. One of his most time consuming hobbies was playing "Dance, Dance Revolution," which he played for four to 10 hours at a local theater nearly every weekend.

The report also confirmed information leaked earlier this year that Lanza kept "a spreadsheet with mass
murders over the years listing information about each shooting."

Nancy Lanza told a witness the month before the shooting that her son would only communicate with her by email, even though they lived in the same house. She said he hadn't left the home in three months.

According to investigators, no one was allowed in Adam Lanza's room, including Nancy Lanza.

More from the report:

The shooter disliked birthdays, Christmas and holidays. He would not allow his mother to put up a Christmas tree. The mother explained it by saying that shooter had no emotions or feelings. The mother also got rid of a cat because the shooter did not want it in the house.

When the shooter had his hair cut, he did not like to be touched and did not like the sound of clippers, so they were not used much. He would sit with his hands in his lap and always look down, giving one word answers if the cutter tried to engage him in conversation.

Those who worked on the property [...] never entered the home. They spoke with the mother outside in the yard or at the bottom of driveway. They were instructed never to ring the doorbell and to make prior arrangements before using power equipment as her son had issues with loud noises.

“The purpose of the investigation was to determine what crimes had been committed and whether anyone will be prosecuted as a result of those crimes," Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky said. "Based on a painstaking investigation it is determined that there will be no arrests or prosecutions. The Connecticut State Police are to be commended for their tireless work on this investigation and their consideration of the families and victims involved."

Sedensky added: “With the release of this report today the investigation is closed, and no additional release of information or documents by this office is anticipated."

It's unclear when the Connecticut State Police's full report on the shooting — several thousand pages long and containing more than 700 files included in its investigation — will be released. The state's attorney said authorities are in the process of redacting sensitive information and are expecting to complete that process before the first anniversary of the shooting.

But the decision to withhold the full report from the public has stirred renewed criticism of the secrecy surrounding the investigation. Typically, the full evidence is released, not just a summary.

Sedensky has fought against the release of 911 tapes from the morning of the shooting.

"If the public never hears those cries for help during this process, they won't be harmed," Sedensky said in court last month.

Victor Perpetua, the lawyer for the state's Freedom of Information Commission, disagreed.

"Every time someone calls 911, there is a belief that there is a crime," Perpetua said. "That is part of the record, but to me the more important part of the record was what response did that person get? How was that information taken? What was the time period?

"I don't mean to say anything wrong happened," he continued. "I don't know one way or the other. At a certain point people start to ask, 'What is there to hide?' I'm saying the longer it's delayed, the more questions that are raised and that delays in providing access to this kind of record increases public insecurity about their police departments."

A judge had been expected issue a ruling on the release Monday, but postponed the decision, saying he needed to listen to the tapes himself.

The family of Vicki Soto, a teacher killed at the school, released a statement on Sunday ahead of the report's release.

"As we close in on the end of a very difficult year, the releasing of this report is yet another blow that our family has been dealt," the family's statement read. "While others search for the answer as to why this happened, we search for the how. How can we live without Vicki? How do we celebrate Christmas without Vicki? How do we go on every day missing a piece of our family? Those are the questions we seek the answers for. There is nothing in the report that will answer those for us."

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