US & Canada

Newtown gunman Adam Lanza had 'obsession' with Columbine

This image contained in the "Appendix to Report on the Shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and 36 Yogananda St, Newtown, Connecticut On December 14, 2012" and released Monday 25 November 2013 by the state’s attorney shows a scene outside the entrance to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown
Image caption Adam Lanza forced his way into the locked school by shooting through a window near the front doors

The gunman who killed 26 people at a Connecticut school last year had "an obsession" with the 1999 Columbine massacre, an official report has found.

Police said there was evidence Adam Lanza, 20, had planned the shooting, which took fewer than 11 minutes.

But they could not establish why he opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on 14 December 2012, before turning the gun on himself.

Lanza acted alone and the case is now closed, state police said.

The report said of Lanza: "He had a familiarity with and access to firearms and ammunition and an obsession with mass murders, in particular the April 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado."

Twelve students and a teacher were killed when two teenagers opened fire in a planned attack at Columbine.

Gunman's 'dry humour'

Before gunning down 20 children and six adults with a semi-automatic rifle at Sandy Hook, the attacker shot dead his own mother at the family home. She had bought him the weapons used in the rampage.

"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," Monday's 44-page report said.

It noted Lanza's "significant mental health issues", but said "what contribution this made to the shootings, if any, is unknown".

Stephen Sedensky, the prosecutor who drafted the findings, also noted that Lanza had previously "displayed no aggressive or threatening tendencies".

Some people who knew the gunman said he had a dry sense of humour and an appreciation for nature, according to the investigation.

Mr Sedensky noted: "Some recalled that the shooter had been bullied; but others - including many teachers - saw nothing of the sort."

Mass murders spreadsheet

Lanza, who would not allow anyone to enter his bedroom, kept a spreadsheet of mass murders listing information about each shooting, according to the report.

Image caption Victoria Soto, 27, was one of six educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary

He also had two videos showing suicide by gunshot and photocopied newspaper articles, dating back as far as 1891, relating to the shooting of schoolchildren.

Other findings include:

  • Nancy Lanza was concerned that her son would only communicate with her by email, even though they lived in the same house
  • While he was in primary school, Adam Lanza wrote a story in which a character kills his mother; it also featured violence towards children
  • On the day of the attack, a Texas woman contacted Connecticut police to say her son had interacted the day before while playing a videogame with someone who had said there would be a school shooting

The investigation also outlined the timeline of events that morning.

The attack began shortly after 09:30 when Lanza forced his way into the locked school by shooting through a window near the front doors.

The first call to emergency services came at 09:35 and the last shot, believed to be Lanza firing a handgun at himself, came at 09:40. Most of the deceased were killed in two classrooms.

"In fewer than 11 minutes twenty first-grade pupils and six adults had lost their lives," the report said.

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Media captionA mother of a victim of the Sandy Hook shooting pleads for new gun control laws in April

Donna Soto, the mother of Victoria Soto, one of the teachers killed by Lanza, said in a statement that it was still not clear why her daughter and the others died.

"We don't know if we will ever be whole again," she said, "we don't know if we will go a day without pain, we don't know if anything will ever make sense again."

The Newtown shooting prompted a renewed US campaign for stricter firearms controls.

While no legislation was passed at a national level, some states - including Connecticut and Colorado - imposed tougher gun laws; other states loosened such restrictions.

Image caption An appendix to the report showed newly released photos taken shortly after the shooting as evidence, including the school lobby
Image caption Lanza sealed the windows of his bedroom with rubbish bags and duct tape, which kept out all the natural light
Image caption One of the guns used by Lanza in the shooting, found inside Sandy Hook Elementary School
Image caption An assault-style rifle also found inside the school after the shooting

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