THE MAGAZINE

Shedding Light On Sandy Hook

By Holly Gilbert

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, was the country's deadliest shooting at a primary school. The question of why someone would perpetrate such a brutal attack still looms large for school security professionals, who must prepare for possible active shooter events. In an attempt to shed light on these difficult issues, the Connecticut State Attorney’s Office released a report in November detailing the findings from an ongoing investigation of the shooting.

The document contains information from law enforcement and witnesses, as well as photos related to the investigation, including images of the bedroom of 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza. While the report concludes that there is “no clear indication” of a motive behind the horrific massacre that killed 20 first graders and seven adults, the materials reveal more about Lanza’s personal life and how he lived in isolation in his mother’s Newtown home.

“The obvious question that remains is: ‘Why did the shooter murder 27 people, including 20 children?’” reads the report. “Unfortunately, that question may never be answered conclusively, despite the collection of extensive background information on the shooter through a multitude of interviews and other sources. The evidence clearly shows that the shooter planned his actions, including the taking of his own life, but there is no clear indication why he did so, or why he targeted Sandy Hook Elementary School.”

The document also details some of the violent paraphernalia Lanza kept in his room. “He had a familiarity with and access to firearms and ammunition and an obsession with mass murders, in particular the April 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado,” states the report. “Investigators, however, have not discovered any evidence that the shooter voiced or gave any indication to others that he intended to commit such a crime himself.”

Mental health. According to the report, the shooter had extensive mental health issues that “affected his ability to live a normal life and to interact with others, even those to whom he should have been close,” such as his mother. For example, despite living under the same roof, Lanza only communicated with his mother by e-mail. “As an adult he did not recognize or help himself deal with those issues. What contribution this made to the shootings, if any, is unknown as those mental health professionals who saw him did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior,” says the report.

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