This week officials released an investigative report on the Dec. 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, marking the troubling end to a case with no arrests or criminal prosecutions. The 48-page report, which details evidence, interviews, and a minute-by-minute timeline, was released after a yearlong investigation into the shootings.
On that Friday, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, Nancy, in her bed in the house where they both lived. He then drove 5 miles to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where he parked in the fire lane and walked toward the front door of the school, his 112-pound body armed with three guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. He shot through the glass front doors of the school at 9:30 a.m.
He shot and killed the school principal and school psychologist in the main hallway and injured two more staff members before entering two separate first-grade classrooms, killing 20 first-graders and four teachers with a semi-automatic rifle. He then took his own life with a handgun at 9:40 a.m. in the second classroom. Police were notified by a 911 call from the nurse’s office at 9:35 a.m. and arrived on the scene just one minute before the report estimates Lanza shot himself.
Stephen J. Sedensky III, the state’s attorney for the district of Danbury and the lead investigator in the case, concluded that Lanza acted alone without any co-conspirators and was criminally responsible for the killings, despite mental health issues.
The report describes Lanza as withdrawn and having a secret fascination with killing, but no history of violence or aggression. In 2005 Lanza was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism characterized by difficulties with social interaction, especially nonverbal communication. Lanza disliked holidays and loud noises, had particular demands regarding the arrangement of food on his plate, and would not touch doorknobs.
Lanza lived with his mother, who did not work because she felt she needed to care for Lanza full time. Lanza had not see his father or older brother since 2010. Though Lanza and his mother lived together, for the final three months before the shooting they communicated exclusively by email. No one, including his mother, was allowed in his bedroom.
Evidence from his bedroom revealed that Lanza was obsessed with mass killings, particularly the 1999 Columbine High School school shooting in Colorado. He collected articles, photos, footage, and created a spreadsheet with statistics about mass shootings. Lanza liked video games and often went to a local shooting range, sometimes with his mother. All of the weapons and ammunition Lanza used for the massacre were legally purchased by his mother.
The report still leaves many questions unanswered. “The evidence clearly shows that the shooter planned his actions, including the taking of his own life,” notes the report. “But there is no clear indication why he did so, or why he targeted Sandy Hook Elementary School.”