The man who shot and killed 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December 2012 suffered from mental health issues that went largely untreated, appeared to have been preoccupied with violence and had ready access to weapons, according to a report released on Friday.
The new report from the Office of Child Advocate and the state's Child Fatality Review Panel, which investigates all child deaths in the state, focuses on Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old shooter, and tells a story of a young man who lived largely in isolation, seemed despondent and had access to several guns and a large amount of ammunition.
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The focus of the report is on Lanza's mental health and educational history and how those intertwined.
Lanza had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which appear to have gone largely untreated by medicine or psychiatric help, the report says.
It goes on to point out how weaknesses and lapses in the educational and health care systems could have played a role in Lanza's deterioration, but makes the clear statement that there was "no direct line of causation can be drawn from these to the horrific mass murder at Sandy Hook."
Lanza lived with his mother at the time of the shootings and killed her before carrying out the rampage, then shooting and killing himself, according to authorities. The 114-page report released this morning suggests a correlation between Lanza planning of the massacre and his mother's plans to move out of Sandy Hook that year.
"In the wake of Mrs. Lanza’s stated plan to move out of Sandy Hook in 2012, and perhaps stimulated by fears of leaving the “comfort zone” of his home, AL (Adam Lanza) planned and executed the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012," the report states.
Lanza, himself, attended Sandy Hook Elementary School asa child and his father said it was a "very happy" time in Adam's life, the report says. A time when he appeared to have social relationships with children and participated in school activities.
However, Lanza said during a psychiatric evaluation in 2006 that he never enjoyed the activities and only did them because his mother wanted him to.
In evaluating Lanza's mental health history, the report also documents the anxiety he suffered from and said it impacted his ability to attend school.
While Lanza's parents sought specialized services for their son at school, there are no indications that Lanza or his parents sought abt mental health treatment for him after 2008 of that there was any sustained mental health treatment.
The report evaluated Lanza's well-being from an early age and noted that there were early indications that he was preoccupied with violence, "which was depicted by extremely graphic writings that appeared to have been largely unaddressed by schools and possibly by parents."
During his adolescent years, video games would come to take on a bigger role as he became more socially isolated and Lanza spent his last years in virtual isolation.
From 2010 to 2012, Lanza stopped communicating with this father, the report finds. He also became preoccupied by mass murder and was in communication with a cyber community of "mass murder enthusiasts."
Lanza also had an interest in guns. Over the years, he participated in recreational shooting activities with his parents and had access to several guns and high-capacity ammunition magazines, even with his mental health was deteriorating, the report finds.
"While this report focuses on educational, physical and mental health issues, the authors recognize the significant role that assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips play in mass murder. That (Adam Lanza) had ready access to them cannot be ignored as a critical factor in this tragedy. Assault weapons are the single most common denominator in mass shootings in the United States and as such, their ready availability must be considered a critical public health issue," the report says.
Several of the findings focus on Lanza from eighth grade, when he was placed on "homebound status," from school through 2012.
The "homebound" placement is for children who are too disabled to attend school, even if special accommodations are made, and the district provided little surveillance, the report finds.
A year later, while Lanza was in the ninth grade, he was evaluated at the Yale Child Study Center, which determined that withdrawal from school and a strategy to accommodate Lanza rather than address his underlying needs would lead to a deteriorating life of dysfunction and isolation.
After the evaluation at Yale, there were indications that efforts were made to seek treatment for Lanza, coordinate appropriate care and plan for his education, the report says.
However, he disagreed with the diagnosis of Asperger's and resisted recommendations for medication to treat anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders.
In tenth grade, there was some initial progress when the school planned to incrementally return to school, but that progress was short lived. By spring, he had withdrawn from most of his classes and reverted to working on his own or with tutors.
Ultimately, Lanza did complete high school, it was through a combination of independent study, tutoring and classes at a local college.
The governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has been waiting for this report before releasing its recommendations on what the state can do to prevent and respond to future incidents.
Among the recommendations in the report are to create systems to facilitate and financially support universal screening for behavioral health and developmental impairments for children ages birth to 21.