Final Newtown shooting report: perhaps not closure, but an ending

The Connecticut State Police released its full report on the Newtown shootings. The reports adds texture, but perhaps more important, it might allow the town – and the nation – to move on.

Robert F. Bukaty/AP
A makeshift memorial with crosses for the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre stands outside a home in Newtown, Conn., on the one-year anniversary of the shootings earlier this month. Connecticut authorities released documents from the investigation Friday.

The Connecticut State Police released its final report Friday on the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., officially closing the investigation barring any new leads, and perhaps at last allowing the town an opportunity to move on.

While “closure” may be too much for those affected by the tragedy to hope for, this official end of the investigation could foreshadow a slowdown of the near-constant attention Newtown has received recently as the public has scrutinized an earlier summary of the report, tapes of 911 calls, and the one-year anniversary.

“There’s never going to be closure for those who were involved, but the farther out it goes, the more chance people have to put it further back in their memory,” says Charles Epstein, operations director of the Connecticut Critical Incident Stress Management Team, a volunteer support group for emergency service providers, including those who responded to and investigated the Sandy Hook shootings.

“Over the year, [these emergency workers] haven’t felt they’ve had a chance to start to heal because it’s … constantly in their face,” he says, but within a few weeks of this final report, “maybe it will settle down.”

The report includes thousands of pages of documents, as well as photographs, videos, and 911 calls related to the shootings, in which Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six school staff members before killing himself. It also includes documents related to Mr. Lanza’s murder of his mother earlier that day at the home they shared in Newtown.

Names and identifying information of involved children and most witnesses were redacted according to various state and federal laws. Also withheld were photographs of the deceased and related written descriptions.

But the documents shed light on the wide variety of tasks the police undertook in the wake of the incident, everything from photographing the crime scene to notifying parents of their child’s death to interviewing witnesses about the shooter.

One officer tracked down a school staff member to talk about drawings found in the school library, which children had created during the lockdown after she gave them crayons and paper to keep them occupied. They were photographed and entered into the record.

The documents also hint at the different pulls made on officers in the weeks after the tragedy, such as the need to follow procedures about keeping information confidential butting up against requests for information from families who were hearing things from their children and didn’t know what was true.

One document showed that a witness who knew Nancy Lanza said she had “never related any incidents in which Adam was violent with her.”

According to the report, a male friend of Ms. Lanza told investigators she had planned to sell their home in Newtown and move to Washington State or North Carolina, where she hoped her son could get a job. She planned to buy an RV for Adam to sleep in. If they went to Washington, Nancy said, there was a special school where she planned to enroll him. In North Carolina, she said, a friend owned a computer firm and had agreed to give Adam a job and teach him the business.

Another document includes the conclusion that “there were no co-conspirators or accessories involved with the shooting.”

Families of the Sandy Hook victim had expected to receive advance copies of the full report, but were told Thursday that it would not be possible, UPI reports. They were given the opportunity to review the report with a detective during the past several weeks, UPI adds.

A summary of the report was released Nov. 25 by State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III.

That summary said that investigators could not pin down a specific motive. Lanza "was undoubtedly afflicted with mental health problems; yet despite a fascination with mass shootings and firearms, he displayed no aggressive or threatening tendencies," the summary report said.

In fifth grade, Lanza wrote a story in which the main character shoots people, and another character talks of liking to hurt people, especially children. The book was among items seized from Lanza's home, but there was no indication he ever handed in the book at school, the summary report said.

Lanza became obsessed with the 1999 massacre at Columbine High in Colorado and kept a spreadsheet ranking mass murders, the summary said.

First Selectman Pat Llodra responded to the November summary report in the Newtown Bee, saying, "I was hoping to find more answers to why Adam acted out his anger and confusion on Sandy Hook School and am disappointed to be left still wondering." She added that the report also reminded her of the Sandy Hook staff’s and police’s “bravery and courage in the face of danger."

The report is just one of the ways various groups are trying to probe what happened that day and what improvements might need to be made in everything from mental health access to school security.

The November summary “does give us some leads about where to go next,” former Newtown state Rep. Christopher Lyddy told the Newtown Bee. Mr. Lyddy is a member of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, which recently said it needed more information about Lanza’s mental state and access to treatment before it could make recommendations to the state about mental health policy.

Material from Associated Press was used in this report.

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