Members of the state's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission vented their frustrations Friday about what they said was too little information being released about the mental health of Adam Lanza, the shooter who killed 20 first-graders and six women at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December.
In its first meeting since August, the commission addressed two reports – one by the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association regarding the Newtown police department's response to the school on Dec. 14, 2012 and Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky's summary report concluding that Lanza acted alone.
The commission, convened by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy after the shooting, criticized the Sedensky report.
"We need Adam Lanza's story. This report is not his story. This report is like someone threw up the pieces of a puzzle and then said here's a few pieces of the sky and a few pieces of the grass,'' said commission member Adrienne Bentman, a psychiatrist affiliated with Hartford Hospital. "There is no human being in this report."
Attorney Kathleen Flaherty noted that in addition to the 26 killed at the school, Lanza also killed his mother, Nancy, earlier that day, and then himself.
"Clearly there was a lot going on in that household; clearly something that is not right in that house. And there were a lot of things going on that we don't have information about," Flaherty said. "There are a lot of things that are missing from this report.''
Chairman Scott Jackson said other agencies are working on reports that might help the commission get a better picture of the shooter's mental health issues. Jackson referred to the state police investigation, which Sedensky summarized, and also the Office of Child Advocate, which through the attorney general's office went to court to get the town of Newtown to turn over Lanza's school records.
Jackson said that the Sandy Hook commission is targeting mid-March for the release of a final report. But several members said that date is unlikely if the commission plans to make recommendations concerning mental health issues.
"With regard to mental health issues, I have no idea what we would write,'' commission member Hank Schwarz said. "To write a report now with what we have, to me, would almost be embarrassing."
Schwarz, the director of the Institute of Living mental health center in Hartford, said Sedensky's report was short in specifics and questioned whether the state's attorney was qualified to decide what would be confidential.
"Mr. Sedensky's report suggests findings that I'm not sure are even confidential,'' Schwarz said.
He mentioned a book Lanza created in fifth grade titled the "Big Book of Granny" – an idea for a TV show in which Granny and her son rob, shoot and kill people. There's also a character called "Dora the Berserker" who talks about liking to hurt children.
Sedensky mentioned the book in his report and included the cover page as an addendum. Schwarz questioned why the commission doesn't have access to the whole book.
Schwarz said it appears Lanza had a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, a type of pervasive developmental disorder not normally associated with committing violent acts.
"This was a kid with a PDD disorder who clearly came to the attention of multiple people over the years and then just fell off the map," Schwarz said.
Schwarz then asked whether the commission or anyone has sought the permission of Peter Lanza, the shooter's father, to release his son's mental health records. Schwarz asked whether there is an estate that could waive confidentiality issues and whether the commission should extend an invitation to Peter Lanza to appear before the panel and talk about his son.
Jackson said they "could ask nicely" if Peter Lanza wanted to appear. He then said that perhaps it would be better to see if he would talk with a sub-set of the commission privately.
Sedensky attended the meeting but did not speak. After the meeting, Sedensky was asked if the shooter's mental health records were turned over to investigators.
"Mr. Lanza cooperated fully with our investigation,'' Sedensky said. He would not answer other questions.
The commission also heard testimony from South Windsor Police Chief Matthew Reed and Manchester Police Chief Marc Montminy, who were representing the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.
The association was asked by Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe to conduct an investigation of the department's response to the shooting.
Questions have been raised about why it took officers nearly six minutes to enter the school after they arrived.
The report concluded that officers entered the building in a timely fashion given the amount of activity outside the school and the uncertainty about how many shooters there were. Reed said the first officers arrived in less than three minutes after the initial 911 call, which he said was "an outstanding response time."
Reed said officers arriving at the school didn't know that children were being shot. He said all they knew was a teacher had been hit in the foot and that there was shooting in the front of the building, possibly on the roof.
Reed said officers were distracted by a man running in front of the building and had to apprehend him because they were unclear if he was the shooter. It turned out he was a parent trying to get into his first-grade daughter's class.
Lanza killed himself about 70 seconds after police first arrived on the scene. More than a half dozen bullets were fired while police were outside the building.
Montminy said that given all that officers had to deal with as they arrived, it's unrealistic to think they could have stopped the shooting in 70 seconds.
"They would have had to go through what I call the fog of war in trying to determine what was happening, then they would have to enter the building, find the shooter and take him out within 70 seconds," Montminy said. "That is a tall order."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun