Sandy Hook report
We hope information can be used in the healing process and to help mentally ill
A little less than a year ago, the Newtown community was dealt the devastating blow of the murder of 20 innocent first-graders and six brave educators in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The horrific, unimaginable violence of Dec. 14, 2012, shocked the Greater New Milford area, the state, the country and people around the world.
The broad outline of the day's tragic events was quickly revealed: A mentally ill Newtown resident, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, had shot and killed his mother at their home, driven to the nearby school, blasted his way into the building, gone on his murderous rampage and then committed suicide upon the arrival of police.
But many questions remained unanswered, spawning rumors and speculation, and the public has been waiting for months for a report to be issued by Danbury State's Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III that would hopefully cast more light on the tragedy.
Sedensky, who had originally promised to make the document public in June, finally released a 44-page report -- a summary of thousands of pages of material produced by state police -- on Monday.
The summary report is highly sanitized and contains little, if any, surprising information, especially for relatives of the victims, many of whom have been kept apprised of the investigation over the months.
However, it does cast more light on the events of Dec. 14, and it does reveal numerous details that provide a more complete picture of what transpired on that fateful Friday morning in Sandy Hook.
One revelation is that Newtown police delayed entering the building for a few minutes because they believed there might be a second shooter, a belief that reportedly persisted for several hours that day.
The report also provides a detailed portrait of Lanza, who holed up in his room at home much of the time, communicated with his mother only by email and was becoming increasingly isolated, and who made a scouting trip near Sandy Hook Elementary School the day before the shootings.
The summary provides a minute-by-minute timeline of the events of Dec. 14, describes Lanza's movements and reports the heavily armed gunman fired 154 of the 301 bullets in his arsenal in a shooting spree that lasted less than five minutes.
But the report does not answer all the questions that have been asked time and again.
Most notably, it does not provide an answer to the most burning question: Why did Adam Lanza perpetrate that unspeakable atrocity at Sandy Hook Elementary School?
We know that issuance of the report, coming less than three weeks from the first anniversary of the tragedy, has been difficult for some of the families of the victims, for some of the first responders at the scene and for many other members of the Newtown community, which is still in a fragile state as it goes through a most difficult healing process.
Our hearts go out to all of those individuals, especially knowing the anniversary will be an emotional day and possible future release of the 911 calls from Dec. 14 and the eventual release of the full (but redacted) state police report will reopen wounds that are still nowhere near healed.
There are those who think the summary report should not have been made public, but we agree with George Hochsprung, whose wife, Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung, was killed in the assault, that the public is entitled to the information. And we believe that report, plus any future disclosures, may ultimately help some grieving individuals and families in their healing process.
The report might also help mental health professionals, the law enforcement community, educators, religious leaders, parents and other citizens in New Milford, neighboring towns and beyond in providing an in-depth look at Lanza -- a lonely, isolated young man beset with "significant mental health issues" and obsessed with mass shootings and those who perpetrated them.
It is too late to save the victims of Sandy Hook, but hopefully some lessons can be learned about mental illness and warning signs that will lead to early and effective treatment for other individuals -- in Greater New Milford, throughout the state and across the country -- who could pose a threat to society.
We hope, too, the members of the Sandy Hook and larger Newtown community can find renewed strength to pull through this difficult time, as well as the upcoming emotional passage of the Thanksgiving holiday and the first anniversary of the tragedy, and will continue to heal as individuals and a community.