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Newtown gunman 'obsessed with mass murder’

Photo: ABC News/ AFP

Prosecutors investigating a brutal shooting spree at a Connecticut elementary school in December 2012 said on Monday that 20-year-old assailant Adam Lanza suffered from mental health problems and was obsessed with firearms and mass murder.


Around the time of the massacre of children at an elementary school in Connecticut last December, gunman Adam Lanza was living an isolated existence, communicating with his mother by email only, even though they lived in the same house.

A long-awaited state’s attorney report on Monday on one of the worst school shootings in US history revealed few new details and left relatives of 20 children and six adults killed with no more knowledge about Lanza’s motive.

The report on the December 14 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown described Lanza’s “obsession with mass murders” especially the shootings in 1999 at Columbine High School in Colorado.

Lanza, 20, was also fascinated by firearms, but investigators did not find evidence he ever told others of his intentions to carry out such an attack, according to the summary report by the lead investigator, State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III.

Lanza murdered his mother, Nancy Lanza, in their Newtown house before attacking the school and finally ending the rampage by turning his gun on himself. Investigators said there was evidence that Lanza planned the shootings.

No criminal prosecutions will be brought, the report said. “The obvious question that remains is: ‘Why did the shooter murder twenty-seven people, including twenty children?’ Unfortunately, that question may never be answered conclusively,” the report said.


The report portrays Lanza as a troubled man who “knew his conduct to be against the law. He had the ability to control his behaviour to obtain the results he wanted, including his own death”.

The report mentions people who encountered Lanza describing him as someone who had a dry sense of humour and enjoyed nature; others said he was a recluse.

Lanza “was undoubtedly afflicted with mental health problems,” Sedensky wrote.

Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza, was concerned for her son and said he hadn’t gone anywhere in three months. She never expressed fear that she or anyone else was in danger from her son, the report said.

Sedensky said there was no clear indication why Lanza chose the school as the target other than the fact that it was close to his home. The report said Lanza in 2005 was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome – but “what contribution this made to the shootings, if any, is unknown”. Asperger’s is an autism-like disorder not usually associated with violence.

Clues online

The report also says federal law enforcers investigated two leads that indicated Lanza might have hinted at the shooting in online communications, but the leads were found to have no validity and no relation to the shooting.

In one of them, a Texas woman contacted police in Connecticut the day of the December 14 attack to say her son had interacted with someone while playing a videogame 20 hours earlier who said there would be a school shooting, according to the report. Also, two days before the shooting, an anonymous user posted comments online about planning to commit suicide December 14 and saying it would make national news. The poster claimed to live in Connecticut.

Sedensky said that Lanza had damaged his hard drive to such an extent before beginning his murder spree that data will probably never be extracted from it.

Donna Soto, the mother of slain teacher Victoria Soto, said in a statement that nothing could make sense of the shooting.

“Yes, we have read the report, no, we cannot make sense of why it happened. We don’t know if anyone ever will,” Soto wrote.

The shooting moved gun safety to the top of the agenda for President Barack Obama – but his gun control efforts have failed in Congress.


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