At least three times in the past five weeks, the state police have attended law enforcement conferences where they discussed details of the Dec. 14 Newtown school shooting investigation, state records show.
State police have gone to conferences in Las Vegas and New Orleans, state records show. A third conference was held in mid-February at Foxwoods Resort Casino.
On Thursday, with criticism mounting of the state police for revealing details of their probe, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called on the chief state's attorney to release more information about the case by next week.
"Like many others, I was disappointed and angered to learn that certain information about the Newtown shooting had been leaked, specifically with concern for the victims' families who may have been hearing this news for the first time,'' Malloy said.
Malloy was referring to a story over the weekend in the New York Daily News that quoted an unnamed police chief. The chief had attended a briefing by Col. Danny Stebbins last Friday in New Orleans at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference.
At that conference, according to the Daily News, Stebbins told the audience that the shooter, Adam Lanza, had been collecting data on mass murderers for years and had generated a 7-foot by 4-foot spreadsheet with details such as the number of people killed and the guns used by each killer.
State police have been regularly briefing the families of the 20 children and six women killed by Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School. One family member contacted Thursday said none of the families was told of the spreadsheet.
The last update for the families from state police was about two weeks ago, or more than a week before Stebbins went to New Orleans.
The families, first-responders and teachers were told at that meeting in Newtown that police had found articles about Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, as well as other mass murderers, in Lanza's computer room. They were told that the police theory is that Lanza wanted to outdo Breivik.
As the news broke about the spreadsheet, legislators criticized Stebbins and the state police for leaking details of the case at an out-of-state convention, while steadfastly refusing to update lawmakers who are trying to craft bills as a result of the massacre.
"I think all of us — I'll speak for myself — were taken aback and frankly outraged [at the disclosures] as we had been meeting hour after hour, trying to craft a reasonable compromise, and are entitled to all information possible," said House Republican leader Larry Cafero.
Cafero said it is "irresponsible" for Stebbins to be "in New Orleans at a conference, telling many strangers what was found at that scene," when legislators and the families lack the same information. He said Stebbins needs to "issue an interim report — orally or written. I would prefer it done in writing. We are entitled to that information.''
The New Orleans conference was not the first one that Stebbins has attended. He also spoke at an FBI-sponsored conference at Foxwoods in mid-February where he mentioned Lanza's interest in Breivik, but did not go into details about the spreadsheet, according to two sources.
The third conference, in Las Vegas earlier this month, run by the California Homicide Investigators Association, was attended by three state police officials directly involved in the Newtown investigation. Lt. David DelVacchio, who runs the Western District Crime Squad, which is overseeing the Newtown investigation; Lt. William Baldwin Jr.; and Det. Joshua Pattberg all attended the Las Vegas conference, state police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance confirmed.
Vance said the three gave a presentation on lessons learned from emergency responders' initial response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and other tactical issues.
Malloy contacted Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane Thursday and requested that prosecutors consider releasing additional information and provide a status of the investigation by March 29. Police have said they don't expect a final report to be finished until mid-June at the earliest.
"As to what information can reasonably be shared at this time — that is a question that must be left to the state's attorney and other law enforcement,'' Malloy said. "As a former prosecutor, I'm sensitive to the need for an independent investigation and believe that we must allow their work to continue without any undue interference."
Sources said it is likely that Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky, who is in charge of the investigation, will issue a short, written interim report.
Malloy went on to say that he is "bewildered" as to why lawmakers require a special briefing before taking a position on potential legislation related to the massacre. He said all they needed to know what that Lanza, using a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, blasted his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdered 26 people, including 20 first-graders in two classrooms, before killing himself.
Much of what else the Daily News reported that Stebbins said at the convention has previously been reported. The Courant and CBS News had reported Lanza's infatuation with Breivik. Those reports came after Stebbins traveled to Washington, D.C., to brief political leaders there.
The Courant had also reported months ago that Lanza, while wearing ear plugs, had switched out magazines frequently firing sometimes only half of the 30-round magazines before reloading.
That move is typical one for video gamers, who learn quickly in the games never to enter a new room without a full magazine in case there is a firefight.
The Courant also reported that state police told the families that Nancy Lanza had a vault that she kept all of her guns in and that they do not know whether Adam Lanza had the combination to open it or if Nancy Lanza had left the vault open.
Lanza killed his mother, shooting her four times in the head while she slept, before driving to the elementary school that he attended as a little boy. He shot his way into the school through the front glass and then proceeded to kill Principal Dawn Hochsprung and psychologist Mary Sherlach before entering classrooms and gunning down the children and four other women.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun