Final Sandy Hook shooting report describes killer's fascination with violence
HARTFORD, Conn. — In fifth grade, Adam Lanza wrote a book that included tales of children being slaughtered and a son shooting his mother in the head.
In the years that followed, he was obsessed with mass murders, assembling articles, photos, books, footage and violent video games, including one in which players gun down students in school. He even kept a spreadsheet ranking mass murders.
Nearly a year after Lanza shot his mother to death and then massacred 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, prosecutors closed the case on Monday with a report that sketched a chilling portrait of a young man with a twisted fascination with violence.
But they were unable to answer the question that everyone has been asking since the tragedy: Why?
“The obvious question that remains is: ‘Why did the shooter murder 27 people, including 20 children?' Unfortunately, that question may never be answered conclusively,” the report said.
Lanza “was under no extreme emotional disturbance for which there was a reasonable explanation or excuse.”
The summary released by the lead investigator, state's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III, describes a 20-year-old gunman who had “significant mental health issues” but had sure knowledge of what he was planning: Besides having the mass murder spreadsheet, he smashed his computer hard drive, and he used earplugs during the shooting.
Lanza killed 20 first-graders and six educators with a semi-automatic rifle at the school on Dec. 14. He shot his mother in the forehead inside their home. He committed suicide with a handgun as police arrived at the school.
Sedensky said there was no clear indication why Lanza chose Sandy Hook Elementary other than it was close to his home. He attended Sandy Hook from first through fifth grade, but he was never assigned to the classrooms where the shootings took place.
The report said that in 2005, he was diagnosed with Asperger's disorder — an autism-like condition that is not associated with violence — and that he lacked empathy for others and behaved strangely.
The spiral-bound manuscript that Lanza wrote in the fifth grade at Sandy Hook, “The Big Book of Granny,” was among items seized from Lanza's home. There is no indication he ever handed the book in at school.
The main character has a gun in her cane and shoots people, and another character likes hurting people, especially children. Lanza's mother often took her son shooting and, according to the report, she had prepared a check to buy him a pistol for Christmas.
She was concerned for him and said that he hadn't gone anywhere in three months and would communicate with her by email only, even though they were living in the same house. The mother never expressed fear that she or anyone was in danger from Lanza, the report said.
Nancy Lanza was visiting New Hampshire the week before the shooting, arriving home the evening of Dec. 13.
Nobody was allowed into Adam Lanza's room, even to clean, according to the report. It said Lanza disliked birthdays, Christmas and holidays and did not like to have his hair cut.
He also didn't like to touch doorknobs, his food had to be arranged on the plate in a certain way, and he changed clothes often during the day. He was a loner at school and was repelled by crowds and loud noises.
Lanza “was undoubtedly afflicted with mental health problems; yet despite a fascination with mass shootings and firearms, he displayed no aggressive or threatening tendencies,” Sedensky wrote.
“Some recalled that the shooter had been bullied; but others — including many teachers — saw nothing of the sort.”
Sedensky said the hard drive taken from Lanza's bedroom might hold clues but was so damaged that data probably will never be extracted from it.
A timeline released with the report indicates that nearly six minutes passed between the arrival of the first Newtown police officer and the time officers entered the school. The report said officers were operating under the belief there may have been more than one shooter.
Whether the delay made any difference was unclear. The report said Lanza killed himself about a minute after the first officer arrived.