Report: Construction Paper Fooled Sandy Hook Shooter
By Dave Altimari, Edmund H. Mahony and Jon Lender / CTNow
NEWTOWN, Conn. (CTNow) — Before carrying out the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Adam Lanza conducted research on several mass murders, sources close to the investigation into the shooting have told The Courant.
The Courant had previously reported that investigators found news articles about Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik at Lanza’s Newtown home. Sources now say that investigators found articles and other documents related to other mass murders in one of two bedrooms he used in the house that he shared with his mother, Nancy.
Lanza killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders, on the morning of Dec. 14 before taking his own life as police closed in. Lanza had first shot and killed his mother at their house.
State police gave the victims’ families, Sandy Hook teachers and first-responders an update on the investigation last week in which, sources said, they discussed the theory that Lanza was trying to outdo other killers.
The Courant reported last month that investigators found several articles about Breivik’s killing spree in Lanza’s room. Breivik set off bombs in downtown Oslo in July 2011 that killed eight people before moving to Utoya island, where he shot and killed 69 people, most of them teenagers attending a summer camp.
Breivik wounded hundreds. He was sentenced last August to 21 years in prison.
Sources said that Lanza’s shooting spree lasted less than five minutes and that he fired 152 bullets while making his way through two classrooms in the elementary school. Lanza had hundreds more rounds of ammunition either on him or in the car that he drove to the school.
Sources said that Lanza retrieved the guns used in the shooting from a vault that his mother kept in the house. Police do not know whether Adam Lanza knew the combination to the vault or if Nancy Lanza did not keep it locked. Lanza used a Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to shoot his victims and a pistol to kill himself.
Lanza shot his way into the school through the glass windows at the front entrance and turned left toward the first-grade classrooms. He almost immediately encountered Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Scherlach, who ran into the hallway from a meeting room, which would have been on Lanza’s right. He shot them both to death immediately.
Sources said that the two teachers who were injured were hit by ricochet bullets from that initial burst of gunfire. One teacher was in the meeting room with Hochsprung and Scherlach and was hit in the leg and crawled back into the room and called 911. The second teacher was closing the door to her classroom much farther down the hallway, where Lanza never went, when she was hit in the foot.
Lanza bypassed the first classroom that belonged to Kaitlin Roig, who had closed her door when she heard the original shots fired at the front door. Sources said that Sandy Hook Elementary had only weeks earlier had a lockdown drill and that Roig had not taken down the piece of black construction paper that teachers are instructed to place over the small window in the classroom doors so that no one can look in.
Lanza first skipped Victoria Soto’s room and entered the classroom taught by substitute teacher Lauren Rousseau.
Lanza killed all but one student in Rousseau’s class, where the children were massed together in a back corner of the room trying to get into a bathroom. One girl escaped because she played dead and ran out of the room after Lanza left.
Lanza then backtracked to Soto’s room.
A source familiar with the investigation said authorities believe that Lanza started walking toward the back of Soto’s classroom, where the bathroom was, when he noticed some of the children hiding under desks.
Lanza shot those students. At some point he stopped shooting, either because the Bushmaster jammed or he made an error reloading it, giving six children the opportunity to escape. Soto had placed another group of five children in a closet, where they were found alive by authorities.
Some bullets struck three cars in the parking lot, and police originally investigated the theory that he was shooting at responding officers. They now believe that he was aiming at a teacher who was standing near the window.
Lanza shot and killed himself in Soto’s room with one of the two pistols that he was carrying as authorities were closing in.
State police have periodically updated the victims’ families as the investigation has unfolded. Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky has said he hopes that the final report on the massacre will be done by the end of June.
Sedensky sealed the search warrants that state police used to remove items from Lanza’s house and car. Sources said that Lanza apparently tried to destroy his computer’s hard drive in a way that would prevent investigators from retrieving any meaningful information about his use of the device.
But two sources said that law enforcement computer forensic specialists are continuing efforts to obtain information from the damaged hard drive. Investigators are also using all means to obtain information from Internet service providers and any other relevant entities to obtain records showing how Lanza used his computer, including what sites he visited, what research he conducted and with whom he corresponded.