Police in Connecticut released in excess of 6,500 pages of documents today relating to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown that took place just over a year ago. The documents provide an in-depth look at the horrifying tragedy that took the lives of 20 first-graders and six members of the staff at the school last December in addition to the lives of the shooter, Adam Lanza, by suicide, and Lanza’s mother, Nancy. The documents also provide previously unknown details about the life of Lanza.
The documentation of the massacre includes the accounts of a number of child witnesses to the shootings and includes both video and photographs from the fateful day. Only the identities of children and those details of the events deemed particularly grisly were blacked out from the document release by police today that marks the official end of their investigation into the crime.
Among the most chilling information included in the documents is that relating to the gunman, then 20-year-old Adam Lanza, determined by police to have acted completely alone in carrying out his shocking attack. His crime was the second-deadliest school shooting to take place in American history.
Previous information released about Lanza revealed that he was a social outcast, was awkward, lived at home with his mother and was known to have a preoccupation with mass murders, in particular with the attack at Columbine High School in 1999. The documents released by police today regarding the Newtown shootings reveal much more detailed information about his life.
Police photographs of Lanza’s home appear to show that he was a gun aficionado. Among his belongings were gun magazines, used paper targets, a large amount of ammunition, another rifle and other assorted shooting paraphernalia. Police say that despite this fascination with guns and mass violence, “he displayed no aggressive or threatening tendencies” prior to the shootings in Newtown.
The depth of his study of mass murders was revealed to police when they investigated his bedroom at his mother’s home following the shootings. Police report finding a spreadsheet consisting of a list of mass murders that dated all the way back to the year 1891. The spreadsheet also contained details about each of the mass murders including the types of weapons used and how many victims were killed.
Lanza apparently did not permit his mother to enter his room and kept the room very dark by placing trash bags over the windows. It has also been revealed that Lanza and his mother, despite sharing the same home, communicated almost entirely through email alone. It seems that the only activity that the pair truly bonded over was shooting and they regularly went target shooting together. Police reports have explained that all of the weapons and ammunition used in the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary were purchased legally by Lanza’s mother.
The information released by police today also provided some insight into the nature of Lanza’s mental illness. He exhibited symptoms consistent with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder that manifested as a refusal to touch doorknobs, multiple clothing changes each day and fears of being touched and loud sounds.
Though the documents released in Newtown provide some revealing details both about the crime and the shooter, Adam Lanza, they can offer no comfort to those who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, nor can they ever provide true knowledge of Lanza’s motive for murdering so many on that tragic day.
By Michele Wessel