FBI releases documents on Sandy Hook school shooting

Published on Friday, 27 October 2017 14:59 - Written by Dave Altimari, Matthew Kauffman and Josh Kovner, The Hartford Courant (TNS)

HARTFORD, Conn. - A newly released FBI profile of Adam Lanza concludes that he didn’t just “snap” and decide to walk into the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, but instead had engaged in careful, methodical planning that started 21 months earlier.

When FBI profiler Andre Simon met with victims families in July 2014 at a hotel in Southbury to go over his final report he gave everyone a one-page synopsis of his findings that included a reference to the shooter “contemplating the attack as early as March of 2011.” The report doesn’t reveal how investigators determined that information.

Simon’s report is among more than 1,500 pages of FBI documents related to the shooting at the Newtown school that left 26 dead, including 20 first-graders. The documents include FBI interviews with neighbors of Adam Lanza, friends of his family, and an hourlong interview with a woman who communicated online with Lanza for more than two years.

The unidentified woman recounted for two FBI special agents how Lanza wrote about his meticulous spreadsheet of mass killers, professed his love of Harry Potter books and told her about a nightmare of being in a mall during a mass shooting.

The woman told FBI agents that she first “met” Lanza online more than two years before the shooting after spotting his postings on a website related to the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. They communicated about once a month after that, but the woman said she did not know Lanza’s real name or where he lived.

She told agents that he referred to the spreadsheet he created “meticulously documenting the details of hundreds of spree killings and mass murders.” She said Lanza wrote about mass killers with respect and understanding, saying such attacks were merely the symptoms of a broken society.

She told the FBI that Lanza rarely spoke about his family or personal life, but said he once wrote that he liked the Harry Potter stories, and in particular the “idea that at the age of 11, the kids were taken away from their families.” She told the FBI he was “the most fixated and disturbed internet associate she had ever encountered.”

The newly released documents show that the FBI opened a grand jury within days of the shooting to collect information from internet sites that Lanza frequented. There also are field notes from agents who canvassed the Yogananda Street neighborhood in Newtown where Lanza lived.

One neighbor told agents that the FBI had visited the Lanza home several years earlier because Adam had hacked into a government computer system when he was in ninth grade. The neighbor said Lanza made it through the second level of the unnamed government computer system before federal agents showed up at the house.

The neighbor said that Nancy Lanza, the shooter’s mother, told them the agents remarked that Adam was so smart “he could have a job with them someday.”

Adam Lanza shot his way into the school on Dec. 14, 2012, and killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders. He fired 154 shots in five minutes before killing himself. Before going to the school he killed his mother in their home, shooting her four times with a rifle as she slept.

FBI agents assisted the state police in the aftermath of the shooting. The documents released Tuesday are mostly redacted grand jury subpoenas and interviews agents conducted, as well as records obtained from schools and health providers.

The investigators’ handwritten field notes on the day of the massacre show how the agents, during their initial canvass of witnesses, gathered a wide range of information about Nancy and Adam Lanza’s relationship that would later shed light on his increasingly isolated existence in the weeks before the murders.

One unidentified person told agents that Nancy Lanza had confided that Adam Lanza had not left his bedroom for three months prior to the shootings and that she only communicated with him via email. Several mentioned that Adam Lanza had been freaked out by Storm Sandy when the family home lost power for days.

“He had no real friends,” an investigator noted, “and would not go out of the house to a hotel when electricity (was) out during Hurricane Sandy.”

Another family friend told agents that while in school, Adam Lanza was “bullied, but not excessively, for his social awkwardness and his physical gait.” Lanza weighed only 111 pounds at the time of his death.

The FBI profilers, after reviewing Lanza’s journal writings, internet posts and interviewing the few relatives who knew him, concluded Lanza had an “extremely rigid and inflexible worldview.”

The FBI presented its profile of Lanza to the state police and victims’ families in 2014. A one-page, seven-point summary of the Behavioral Analysis Unit’s findings, printed on FBI letterhead, was passed out to the 50 people who attended the meeting.

The profiler concluded:

- In the weeks and months preceding the attack, Lanza’s deteriorating relationship with his mother was a significant challenge and stressor in his life.

- There was no evidence to suggest that Lanza viewed the attack as a “video game” or as a game.

- Lanza was fascinated with past shootings and researched them thoroughly.

- There is evidence to suggest that Lanza had an interest in children that could be categorized as pedophilia. Although the profiler acknowledged there is no evidence Lanza ever acted on that interest.

The unidentified woman’s internet conversations with Lanza expounded on his loneliness and social awkwardness. She told federal agents, according to their summary, “Lanza seemed to have no friends or people he could turn to for support or assistance and did not appear to have any enjoyment of life.”

In his postings, Lanza expressed displeasure over natural light, the taste and texture of food, and the feel of clothing.

The woman said Lanza at least once had “casually mentioned suicide” and saw death as an escape from his joyless existence. But she told the FBI Lanza never directly expressed an interest in killing himself. The woman also told agents it was clear Lanza was knowledgeable about guns, but never indicated that he owned weapons and never suggested he would hurt others

She said Lanza also wrote about his nightmares.

Lanza wrote that he dreamed he was in a mall during a mass shooting, and found himself alone in a shoe store with the shooter, trying to persuade him to commit suicide before the police could arrest him. In another, he described watching bullies emptying the backpack of a victim, who then pulled a gun and began shooting his tormentors.