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Panel Seeks Info, Interview With Gunman’s Father

by Hugh McQuaid | Dec 20, 2013 4:03pm
(3) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Town News, Newtown, Health Care, Law Enforcement, Legal, Public Safety

Hugh McQuaid Photo

Harold Schwartz and Robert Ducibella

Members of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission discussed Friday contacting the father of Newtown shooter Adam Lanza in an effort to answer questions left unresolved by the state’s attorney’s report on the mass shooting.

The commission was established by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in January following murders last December in Newtown where a gunman entered an elementary school and killed 20 first graders and six adults. The 20-year-old shooter also murdered his mother that day and took his own life after his rampage at the school.

The advisory panel had suspended its meetings while Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III worked to complete his investigation into the shooting.

But during the group’s first meeting since Sedensky released his report last month, commissioners seemed split on whether the report provided enough details for the group to make informed recommendations on mental health issues raised by the shooting.

“One thing that remains unclear, I think, to many of us is this sort of fundamental question, ‘Who is Adam Lanza?’” the commission’s chairman Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson said.

Hugh McQuaid Photo Although Jackson and other members suggested the panel should avoid trying to scrutinize the specifics of the gunman’s mental state too closely, Harold Schwartz, a psychiatrist and member of the commission, said the group needs more detail than what Sedensky provided in his report.

“For us to write a report on the basis of the information we have now, to me, feels almost embarrassing and sets us up for potential actual, real embarrassment if real information that we don’t have becomes available at a later date,” he said.

Schwartz asked whether the group could seek testimony from the shooter’s estranged father, Peter Lanza. He said it was not clear from Sedensky’s report whether he had refused to release records on his son to the authorities.

Sedensky, who sat in on the meeting but did not participate, was asked afterward if some of the records Schwartz had asked about would be included with the information state police are expected to release on the incident early next year. Sedensky said only that “Mr. Lanza did cooperate with the investigation.”

Hugh McQuaid Photo Schwartz asked Jackson if the commission could reach out to Lanza.

“Can we invite the father to testify to us? Do we know that he would refuse? I don’t know,” he said.

Jackson seemed hesitant but said the group could ask Lanza. If he agreed, Jackson said the meeting should consist of a smaller group of task force members who are associated with the mental health field.

“We can ask nicely. I would want to be extremely sensitive,” Jackson told Schwartz. “. . . I’d like to discuss that offline.”

Schwartz said one thing the group did know about the shooter was that he was given a diagnosis of a disorder on the Pervasive Developmental Disorder spectrum. He said parents raising children on the PDD spectrum have the most difficult time accessing services for their kids.

“These kids need care and rehabilitation services of one kind or another throughout their lives. And if there is a story in Mr. Sedensky’s report — there’s a little bit of that story,” He said. “. . . The resources are barely out there and to try to access them, we hear time and time again, wears down any and every family trying to access them.”

Schwartz said he believed the commission’s report should address this segment of the population “which is just hugely under-treated.”

Other members of the commission suggested the group focus on other areas. Patricia Keavney-Maruca, a member of the State Board of Education, said the commission’s recommendations should continue to advocate for stronger gun control policies.

“I keep thinking that Adam Lanza’s mental health . . . it is what it was, but if he didn’t have access to guns we wouldn’t be sitting here today,” she said. “I think that should be a major part of this recommendation. I don’t think we should give up that battle.”

Hugh McQuaid Photo The commission also heard a review of the early moments of the shooting from the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association. The report concluded that Newtown Police responded quickly to the mass shooting and likely prevented more casualties.

“It is our opinion that the Newtown police first responders responded rapidly and deployed their resources appropriately and in accordance with law enforcement’s best practices,” South Windsor Police Chief Matt Reed said.

Newtown officers did not enter the school for around six minutes after they first arrived at the school on the day of the shooting, according to a timeline released with Sedensky’s report. Reed said officers were initially tasked with assessing the threat of people moving around outside the building.

“The officers were engaged in the assessment of what they perceived to be a true threat. They dealt with that threat quickly and then moved into the building,” Reed said.

Jackson said he hopes the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission will be ready to finalize its report in mid-March.

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(3) Comments

posted by: Joebigjoe | December 20, 2013  5:47pm

He was nuts just like every other mass shooter in recent years. Loughner and Gabby Giffords, Holmes in Colorado, Cho in Virginia Tech.

In every situation someone said before the evil act ranging from friends, coworkers, classmates,  professors, and even therapists, “this guy is nuts. There is an issue here.” The other nuts dont like that.

Years ago I had a brother who was a drug addict, alcholic, prison inmate at times, who in a fit of rage was fully capable of doing one of these things. If it could save lives I would NEVER think twice about his name being on a computer somewhere where he couldnt buy a gun legally. I have an odd last name and it wouldnt even phase me to have that name on a registry because his right to be nuts doesnt have more importance than the people he could have hurt.

Can’t put that information in a database whether it be gun buying or just “let’s keep a much closer eye on the actions of these people if they aren’t institutionalized.”

The 19 year old showing overactive hormones and bad judgment making love to his 15 year old girlfriend will get you on a registry to be watched for years but let’s fall over ourselves to protect the nut jobs who have yet to do their harm to others, and we all know they will whether it be that poor girl in Middletown raped and left for dead on her birthday or the nut that kills a family member because someone took the TV remote.

posted by: dano860 | December 21, 2013  10:45am

JBJ, they aren’t looking to get to the truth. They are looking to get your firearms.
Patty K. Maruca is blaming the firearms not the parents, primarily the mother. She gave him access to them, she left him in his world of delusion with complete access to them. There needs to be more personal responsibility taken by owners of firearms. We also needs to be better crime control and stronger punishment for crimes committed with a firearm.
This panel needs more information to insure that they aren’t embarrassed at some future date. In the mean time they continue to gather information to build a better case against legally owned, by law abiding citizens, firearms. The problem isn’t the person it’s their choice of weapon.

posted by: StanMuzyk | December 22, 2013  2:07pm

The killer’s father reportedly provided him and his mother with big bucks in financial support—but apparently his mental care was overlooked and unattended—and money was indiscrimitely spent on Adam Lanza’s eventual kiiling arsenal. Not having a father in the house—and a mother at home to buy her mentally challenged son
son an assault rifle with other arms with plenty of ammo—who did not even hunt-game-animals to practice electronic games at home shooting target people objects—and eventually killing 27 innocent victims.  A very sad assessment to make at Christmas Holiday time.  God bless the innocent chlldren and adults who’s lives were so brutally ended in this infamous disaster—and their loving families who must continue to grieve over their tragic loss of loved ones.