HARTFORD, Conn. — Newtown, Conn., shooter Adam Lanza’s home contained an arsenal of guns, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, samurai swords, a bayonet and knives, search warrants released Thursday show.
The warrants show that police found the items after searching Lanza’s home and car following the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where Lanza killed 20 first-graders and six women.
Portions of the documents were blacked out, including the name of a witness who told police that Sandy Hook Elementary School was Lanza’s “life.” Police found a copy of Lanza’s report card from Sandy Hook in the house.
The warrants state that investigators found two rifles, a BB gun and a starter pistol in the house, including the .22-caliber rifle that he used to kill his mother, Nancy Lanza, before going on his killing spree. Lanza had taken four additional guns with him to the school.
Police also found thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment and video gaming consoles, and a receipt to a gun range in Weatherford, Okla.
A gun safe, where some weapons were stored, was in Adam Lanza’s bedroom, a warrant indicates. The list of more ammunition filled nearly two pages. Investigators found full boxes of shotgun shells with buckshot, hundreds of rounds for the .22-caliber rifle, and numerous boxes of ammunition for handguns, as well as the instruction manual for the Bushmaster AR-15 used in the shooting.
Investigators found 12 knives, three samurai swords, a bayonet, eye protection, ear muffs for a gun range, Simmons binoculars, paper targets and Lanza’s National Rifle Association certificate.
They found journals that Lanza kept, although the warrants do not provide details of what they said. Investigators confiscated Lanza’s video games, unidentified medical records and printed email conversations. They discovered books about living with Asperger’s syndrome, the condition with which Lanza was diagnosed.
Investigators found a gun safe open and with no indication that it had been broken into. In one warrant, there is also a reference to a gun safe in Lanza’s bedroom, along with a smashed computer hard drive and gaming console. An unidentified witness told investigators that Lanza spent most of his time alone, often playing video games such as “Call of Duty,” a warrant states.
Police found three photographs of a dead person covered in plastic and blood. The warrants do not indicate whether authorities know the identity of the person.
They also found a bank check to Lanza from his mother for “the purchase of a C183 (firearm),” one of the warrants states. Although investigators identified the “C183” as a firearm, it is unclear if any such weapon with that designation is made. Police confiscated a military-style uniform from Lanza’s bedroom, a warrant indicates.
Families of the victims were briefed late Wednesday night about what details were going to be released in the search warrants.
“It was obvious his intention was to do a lot of damage, and he was certainly capable of doing that … considering the amount of ammunition he had,” said Mark Barden, the father of slain first-grader Daniel Barden.
Of Nancy Lanza, he said, “As a parent, I would think that she probably could have made different choices with how she came to spend her time with her son. Fishing comes to mind.”
Barden said that he hoped the release of the warrants would remind the public of the ugly and horrific nature of the tragedy.
“When people forget about it, they do nothing,” said Barden. Commenting on the snapshot they’ve gotten into Lanza’s life, Barden remembered his own son’s kindness and said that Daniel used to sit with the lonely kids in class.
“I think if there were a Daniel Barden in Adam Lanza’s class, this may not have happened,” he said.
Nicole Hockley, the mother of slain first-grader Dylan Hockley, was among the family members who were briefed.
“I haven’t spent a great deal of time poring through them,” she said. “Everything I learn about the investigation is painful, because it reminds me of the pain of that day and that Dylan and the others aren’t ever going to come back.”
“I’m much more focused on the need for change,” said Hockley. “The search warrants contents aren’t as important.”
Danbury, Conn. State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky asked Judge John F. Blawie to seal certain information, including the identity of a witness and undisclosed items obtained during the searches, for another 90 days.
Not included in the search warrants released Thursday by Sedensky was material suggesting what the state police or other law enforcement agencies have done to collect information about Lanza’s computer use from companies such as those that provided telephone and Internet service to his home.
Information from Internet service providers might prove valuable when the destruction of a computer hard drive makes the retrieval of its data difficult or impossible.
Authorities have released little information about the state police investigation, which they’ve said is not expected to be completed until June. State police have been criticized recently for attending several national police conferences and revealing details of the investigation at those functions.
Sedensky also released a report Thursday indicating that he has ordered state police to stop releasing information.
The biggest leak came two weeks ago when Col. Danny Stebbins attended a conference and told a group of police chiefs that investigators found a 4-foot by 7-foot spreadsheet with a detailed listing of mass murderers, including how many people they had killed and what weapons they had used.
There is no reference to the spreadsheet in the search warrants. The only evidence revealed Thursday is that police found one New York Times article about the mass murder at Northern Illinois University in 2008 in which five people were killed and 21 injured when a gunman opened fire in a lecture hall.
Law enforcement sources have told the Hartford Courant that police subsequently also found articles about Norway mass murderer Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2010. Police theorize that Lanza chose the Sandy Hook Elementary School because it would offer a high-target opportunity to kill people quickly.
But sources said that is only as theory and that nothing has been recovered specifically indicating Lanza’s motive or intentions. Police did find several journals belonging to Adam Lanza in a closet in the home as well as his drawings. That is also where they found the one report card from the Sandy Hook Elementary School, which Lanza attended as a child.
Sedensky said in his report that police recovered from Lanza’s body three 30-round magazines for the Bushmaster, each containing 30 rounds. They also located in the area of the shootings six additional 30-round magazines, three of which were empty and the others containing 10, 11 and 13 live rounds. There was one 30-round magazine on the gun.
Police have theorized that Lanza might have been simulating the video games that he loved to play by switching out the ammunition in the Bushmaster as he moved from room to room and before the magazine was empty. It is a characteristic of hard-core gamers to constantly switch magazines so that they are never out of ammunition when entering a room.
Lanza blasted his way into the school by shooting out the front glass and then proceeded to two classrooms, firing 154 bullets in less than five minutes. He killed himself with one final shot as police were closing in.
Lanza killed 17 people in Lauren Rousseau’s classroom, including 15 children, shooting most of them at point-blank range as they tried to hide in a bathroom in the back of the classroom. One girl survived by playing dead.
He then backtracked into the classroom of Victoria Soto and killed seven more, including five children. All were shot multiple times.
Six students escaped from Soto’s classroom when Lanza’s Bushmaster AR-15 apparently jammed during the shooting spree. Police found a round in the chamber of the Bushmaster when they found Lanza’s body. The magazine still had 14 rounds in it. Five other children were found hiding in a closet in that room. Lanza’s body was found in Soto’s room.
State police applied for four search warrants within the first few days of the massacre. On the day of the shootings, police obtained a warrant for the Honda Civic that Lanza was driving — where they found a loaded shotgun with 70 rounds — as well as the home, which they entered after 7:25 p.m., according to court records.
Police also obtained a search warrant for the house on Dec. 15 and another one on Dec. 16, records show. Under state law, police have 14 days to return a search warrant to the court along with an itemized list of what was removed during the search.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released a statement Thursday saying that the new details only enhanced what was already known — that a disturbed individual killed 20 children and six educators with a weapon that he should not have had access to.
Malloy also noted that Lanza took only high-capacity magazines with him into the school.
“We knew he used 30-round magazines to do it, and that they allowed him to do maximum damage in a very short period of time. And we now know that he left the lower-capacity magazines at home,” Malloy said. “This is exactly why we need to ban high-capacity magazines and why we need to tighten our assault weapons ban. I don’t know what more we can need to know before we take decisive action to prevent gun violence.”
Nancy Lanza, a New Hampshire farm girl and sister of a police officer, had been around firearms all her life. She bought the Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle and the other weapons used in the Sandy Hook rampage between 2010 and 2012.
Nancy Lanza took Adam Lanza to shooting ranges, and characterized those experiences to close friends as “a way to bond” with her son, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in middle school.
The darkness surrounding Adam Lanza began to creep into his life in 2010, when Lanza was 18. His mother had withdrawn him from Newtown High School when he was 16. He then went to Western Connecticut State University, but left after one year. He attended a community college, but also left that school after a year. He worked at a part-time job for a while repairing computers, but the job ended when the business shut down.
Until 2010, his father, Peter Lanza, who had divorced Nancy Lanza the previous year, had kept up regular visits with Adam, taking him hiking and going to coin shows, a person close to the father said. But the 18-year-old abruptly severed ties with his father, and with his brother Ryan, in 2010.
Jenny Wilson, Edmund H. Mahony, Josh Kovner and Matthew Kauffman of the Hartford Courant contributed to this report.
©2013 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)
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