Danbury State's Attorney Releases Additional Information on December 14, 2012, Incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School

Stephen J. Sedensky III, State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury, today released the following statement concerning the December 14, 2012, tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut:

On the morning of December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, the shooter, age 20, of 36 Yogananda St., Newtown, shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, age 52, in her bed with a .22 caliber rifle. There was no indication of a struggle.

Later the shooter went to Sandy Hook Elementary school where he shot his way into the building and killed 20 children and 6 adults with a Bushmaster .223 caliber model XM15 rifle. The Bushmaster was loaded with a 30-round capacity magazine. Fourteen rounds were in the magazine when the Bushmaster was recovered by police. There was one round in the chamber.

The shooter took his own life with a single shot from a Glock 10 mm handgun. He also had a loaded 9mm Sig Sauer P226 handgun on his person. Recovered from the person of the shooter, in addition to more ammunition for the handguns, were three, 30-round magazines for the Bushmaster, each containing 30 rounds. Located in the area of the shootings were six additional 30-round magazines containing 0, 0, 0, 10, 11, and 13 live rounds respectively. One-hundred-and-fifty-four spent .223 casings were recovered from the scene.

It is currently estimated that the time from when the shooter shot his way into the school until he took his own life was less than five minutes.

The police found a loaded 12-gauge shotgun in the passenger compartment of the car the shooter drove to the school. The shotgun was moved by police from the passenger compartment of the car to the trunk for safekeeping.

The guns used in the shootings were apparently all purchased by the shooter’s mother. There is currently no indication that the shooter attempted to purchase the guns and was denied. The gun locker at 36 Yogananda St. was open when the police arrived. It was unlocked and there was no indication that it had been broken into.

Under Connecticut General Statutes Section 51-276 the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury is in charge of the investigation. I asked the Connecticut State Police to conduct the criminal investigation. We are being assisted by numerous other state and federal agencies.

Five search warrants were obtained on December 14, 15, and 16, 2012, for the car the shooter drove and his home at 36 Yogananda St. I sought and obtained sealing orders for these five warrants and the returns. The orders were issued by the Honorable John F. Blawie for 90 days. The orders expired March 27, 2013.

Today those warrants and their returns are being released subject to redactions that I requested of the court yesterday. This is an ongoing and active criminal investigation which is most effectively done confidentially. Indeed the rules of Professional Responsibility as they apply to prosecutors require that I take steps to not make extra judicial statements that I know or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter. The rule also applies to investigators working under my authority. As this criminal investigation is ongoing, active and no definitive conclusions have been reached by myself, the release of any information could potentially jeopardize a future prosecution if evidence were developed to support one. It is not unusual to develop a viable prosecution late in an investigation when one was not contemplated earlier.

The family and friends of the victims, the community and the general public have a right to expect that any decision to prosecute or not prosecute will be made only after all of the available evidence has been examined and considered and all leads suggested by the evidence have been adequately pursued. The Connecticut State Police, the Newtown Police Department and other state and federal law enforcement agencies are not only continuing to investigate, but are still in the process of compiling reports, statements from witnesses, and documenting, examining and testing physical and digital evidence that has been obtained. This process is very arduous and must be done carefully, accurately, and confidentially.

At the same time, the investigators and myself are aware of the work some members of the public, the Governor and the General Assembly are trying to do. It is with that work in mind and our obligations to the investigation that the above statement regarding some facts of the case are described and only limited redactions to the search warrants and returns were requested. Additionally, recognizing the importance of the work of the Governor and the General Assembly, the Division of Criminal Justice through the Office of the State's Attorney and the Office of the Chief State's Attorney communicated with representatives of the Governor and the legislature to hear concerns regarding facts of the incident within the context of the ongoing criminal investigation.

Recently, information purporting to relate to this investigation was published in the media attributed to a presentation at a law enforcement conference. To prevent such disclosure in the future, I have instructed that any and all such presentations involving evidence in the criminal investigation be ceased while the investigation is pending and my report is still outstanding.

In not seeking to continue the complete sealing of all the search warrants and in providing the information above, this State’s Attorney, as well as the Connecticut State Police investigators, were mindful of the work our elected leaders are undertaking. After consultation with the investigators, it was decided that much of the information in the search warrants would not sought to be sealed and that the release of the above basic crime scene information would not jeopardize the active and continuing criminal investigation into this unprecedented tragedy.

The released search warrants were obtained on December 14, 15, 16, 2012, within a short time of the shootings. Subsequent investigation revealed that shootings took place in two of the classrooms, not three, and that the shooter was not wearing a bullet-proof vest, nor was he a teenager. Paragraph 5 of the December 16, 2012, warrant contains excess verbiage that was the result of incorporating information from prior search warrants. Finally, page numbers on returns do not necessarily follow the page listed before them as the returns are prepared after the warrant has been executed. The officer filling out the return may have used different equipment for the form which may result in discrepancies in the page numbering for the returns.

As mentioned, this is an active, ongoing investigation. No conclusions have been reached and no final determinations have been made. The estimation of completion in the summer remains. After the investigation is complete, I will prepare a report regarding the matter which will include an evaluation of the crimes committed and whether or not there will be any prosecutions as a result. Myself and the investigators ask that the investigative process be respected.

Our sympathy for this tragedy continues to go out to the victims’ families, friends and the Newtown community. We continue to be grateful to those working with us on the investigation, the Newtown Police Department, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the United States Attorney's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshal's Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and all of the other local, state and federal agencies that have been working with the Connecticut State Police and the State’s Attorney’s Office involved in this investigation.