On Official and Primary Sources
There were several official investigations into the Sandy Hook shooting, the records from which constitute most of the evidence this narrative relies upon: first is Connecticut’s Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury on the shooting, which was based on the Connecticut State Police’s investigative files, and released in November 2013. This is generally cited below as “The CSP Official Report,” or similar.
Next is the “Child Advocate Report,” released by Connecticut’s Office of the Child Advocate in November of 2014, under the title “SHOOTING AT SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.” This report focuses on the childhood development of the Sandy Hook shooter, whereas the CSP report consists more of witness interviews and physical and digital evidence collection, and thus portrays the latter portion of the shooter’s life.
Meanwhile, there were also a handful of journalism pieces published in the years immediately after attack that reported a great many of the events portrayed in this story: “Raising Adam Lanza” by PBS Frontline and the Hartford Courant (including the unedited supplemental interviews and the e-mails Nancy wrote to Marvin LaFontaine) and Andrew Solomon’s interview with Peter Lanza, “The Reckoning,” published in The New Yorker in March 2014.
More recently, there was the FBI’s investigative files, from the support bureau lent to Connecticut for their 2013 report, and which were finally released more fully in October of 2017. In addition to several entirely new revelations, these pages also served to confirm the accuracy of much of the shooter’s online footprint that had been circulating on the internet for years by that point.
Finally, there are the files released by Connecticut as a result of The Hartford Courant’s legal fight to obtain them through FOIA requests. These are mostly school assignments and digital files from the Sandy Hook shooter, which were redacted from the official CSP report. These are generally noted in-text as being part of that release, and cite the Connecticut court decision requiring their release.
(This section is a work-in-progress, and will soon expand to convey more of how The Sheltered Storm was written, as more sources are added below.)
This scene portrays what happened at 36 Yogananda on 12/14 based on just the physical evidence. The exact events and their order cannot be precisely known, as neither party survived. [A later chapter] depicts the collection of the physical evidence. As noted by a first responder, in the CSP supplemental report, “It appeared that the female had been ambushed and killed while sleeping in bed.”
He had taken the hard drive out…: CSP photo set “Sec 5 – Back-up Scene 1” 23-39
…impossible to recover, even for the FBI: CSP summary, footnote 2 reads “potentially important evidence, i.e., a computer hard drive recovered from the shooter’s home, as of this date remains unreadable. Additional insight could be gained should efforts to recover data from the hard drive ever prove successful, which at this time appears highly improbable.” Records note the hard drive was turned over to an FBI agent Warwick on 12/15/12.
A single bullet arced through he air…: CSP photo set “Sec 5 – Back-up Scene 1” 35
…she felt no pain: Nancy’s wounds are described in CSP Report supplements titled “Autopsy Observation Report” and “Body Survey”
Later that day, Nancy’s DNA…: CSP Initial Narrative Report filed 07-11-2013
Nancy kept childhood photos….: CSP photo set “Sec 5 – Back-up Scene 1″ 489-491
He left the rifle on the floor…:CSP Summary Report notes “in the chamber of the rifle was a spent .22 cal. shell casing and three live rounds were in the magazine.”
He turned left out of the driveway…: The driving route is assumed because it is the route he rehearsed twice, as depicted in [later chapters].
The delivery driver…:CSP Supplemental Report, interview with witness Brian Karr dated 01-10-2013. Invoice is in photo set “Sec 5 – Back-up Scene 1″ 235-238
The machine picked up…: CSP Official Report Supplement “Answering Machine Audio Recording Home Phone of 36 Yogananda St. Sandy Hook, CT” lists the messages recorded. (Audio of Nancy’s greeting circulated online after the shooting.)
Then the SWAT team broke through…: CSP Official Report Supplement file 00168314, and photo set “Sec 5 – Back-up Scene 1″ 645. (The “pause” between the answering machine message and the battering ram was actually about an hour, during which time a bomb-squad robot searched the home, as depicted in [a later Chapter]
1. The Shooter
Main source: A Report to Attorney General John K. Van de Kamp on Patrick Purdy and the Cleveland School Killings; October 1989, State of California (Nelson Jempsky, Chief Deputy Attorney General, et al)
…when the Trading Post Store in Sandy, Oregon put it on display: “After Shooting, Horror But Few Answers” — The New York Times; Reinhold, Robert 01/19/1989
“Obviously, he had a….”: “A Military Hang-up” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Jan 19, 1989
“We’ll never know why”: quoted in “Escalating Hate Reportedly Consumed Gunman” — Los Angeles Times; Dan Morain and Louis Sahagun 01/19/1989
Then, they noticed the army men…: The press conference scene and evidence is shown in TV documentary series “The 20th Century with Mike Wallace” episode “Mass Murderers” (also depicted in [a later chapter])
When the yearbooks came out…: Pages from the 1978 yearbook were published by PBS: Frontline as part of the program “Raising Adam Lanza” – (Koughan, Frank, Joe Beshenkovsky, John Marks, Mary Robertson, Alaine Griffin, Josh Kovner, and Matthew Kauffman. 2013.)
The homestead had been in the family for decades…: property records, Town of Kingston Assessing Office
…recognized as a historical site by the town: “Historic Preservation Assistance Project” Survey #105 (Champion House) — Rockingham Regional Council 03/19/1980
Various details about Nancy Lanza’s early life: “Connecticut gunman had New Hampshire ties” New Hampshire Union Leader (http://www.newhampshire.com/article/20121214/NEWS03/121219461); “For Lanza family, son Adam’s difficulties dominated” The Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/for-lanza-family-son-adams-difficulties-dominated/2012/12/17/3c0e8eb0-4890-11e2-ad54-580638ede391_story.html); “Solid Upbringings for Lanza Parents” Wall Street Journal (http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324461604578194054206944718) “Nancy Lanza Remembered as Bubbly Caring Person” Moser, Douglas New Hampshire/Mass Eagle Tribune 12/15/12 (http://www.eagletribune.com/news/nancy-champion-lanza-remembered-as-a-bubbly-caring-person-by/article_6575d683-3336-54bb-8ab5-0f4d068f6747.html); “Nancy Lanza Recalled with Kind Words” The Connecticut Post (http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Nancy-Lanza-recalled-with-kind-words-not-as-4568716.php)
“That was their food…”:“Raising Adam Lanza” Hartford Courant/PBS Frontline, transcript of interview with Marvin LaFontaine
Nancy started her own business…: Rockingham County, NH Business records (revealed in interview with unknown family member or friend, from FBI files released October 2017)
…her father-in-law, Peter S Lanza…: “Peter’s Story” Eagle-Tribune 12/7/2010 (http://obituaries.eagletribune.com/obituary/peter-lanza-2010-770834931)
She dropped out of college…: Nancy expresses her regret in an email exchange between her and the shooter (from the Child Advocate report) as depicted in [a later chapter]. The university is noted in FBI interviews with family members (dated 12/28/2012).
3. Assault Rifle
The Los Angeles Times archives were the main source for coverage of the California assault weapons ban. The law was generally referred to as the Roberti-Roos act in California at the time.
More than 700 Californians were gathered…: This welcome-home rally is described in President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime by Lou Cannon. Various details also from Los Angeles Times stories 01/21/1989 and 01/22/1989
…it was at this black-tie affair where he gave his first public comments…: Los Angeles Times 02/12/1989 (http://articles.latimes.com/1989-02-12/news/mn-2865_1_gun-control/2)
President Bush was wrapping up…: “The Public Papers of the President” US GPO, 1989 (The “PPP” records are used throughout this book, and are almost always the source whenever a president is speaking.)
“People are buying anything that’s ugly…“: The Los Angeles Times 5/20/1989 (http://articles.latimes.com/1989-05-20/news/mn-286_1_assault-weapons-owners-of-such-weapons-gun-dealers)
“Traders” history: TRADING IN DEATH – PROFILE OF A ROGUE GUN DEALER 2006. Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence; (This source obviously has a political objective, but I found the publication to be reliable as to the relevant facts and events. The same is true of pro-gun partisan sources cited elsewhere.) Other notes from PBS Frontline story “Hot Guns”: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/guns/procon/menace.html
…black residents in Oakland formed the Black Panther Party in 1966…: “ARMED NEGROES PROTEST GUN BILL” The New York Times 05/03/1967; (For an overview of the Panthers and their role in American history, Joshua Bloom’s Black Against Empire is recommended.)
Task Force on Assault Weapons: coverage from Los Angeles Times: http://articles.latimes.com/1989-01-13/news/mn-160_1_machine-gun and http://articles.latimes.com/1988-12-28/news/mn-911_1_assault-weapon and http://articles.latimes.com/1989-03-27/news/mn-444_1_gun-control-bill
The Attorney General entered the assembly chamber carrying an AK-47…: http://articles.latimes.com/1989-02-14/news/mn-2181_1_assault-weapons
The senate announced a series of public hearings…: The Los Angeles Times (http://articles.latimes.com/1989-04-05/news/mn-904_1_assault-weapon)
…trying to tailor state law to specifically target Traders Sporting Goods… “BANNING THE IMPORTATION OF ASSAULT WEAPONS AND CERTAIN ACCESSORIES INTO THE UNITED STATES – Hearing before the Subcommittee on Trade of the Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives – HR 1154 – April 10,1989” (Page 18) This document is a source of many quotes in this chapter. Traders as a basis for the ban was also cited by the LA Times (http://articles.latimes.com/1988-12-28/news/mn-911_1_assault-weapon/3) and the 1989 ATF report on the Import Ban.
…assigned the Secretary of the Treasury with the task…: The ATF outlined their authority and the process behind the import ban in their official “REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE ATF WORKING GROUP ON THE IMPORTABILITY OF CERTAIN SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES” 07/06/1989
“As it became clear that the NRA was in retreat…”: Knox, Neal The Gun Rights War (full text of the ATF letter has circulated online)
passed with a single vote to spare…: Los Angeles Times http://articles.latimes.com/1989-05-19/news/mn-112_1_assault-weapons-ban-military-style-assault-types-of-semiautomatic-rifles
“…a solution to the Stockton tragedy”: “Efforts to ban rifles wound lobbyists” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 02/20/1989
“These violent times…”: Los Angeles Times 3/12/1989 (http://articles.latimes.com/1989-03-12/opinion/op-764_1_gun-control-act/2)
The “import ban,” as it came to be known… “Assault-rifle Imports Temporarily Stopped” (http://articles.philly.com/1989-03-15/news/26127883_1_assault-rifles-israeli-uzi-belgian-fal)
a barrel shroud…: The ATF’s particular list actually did not include this feature, but it was on many later features lists that descended from the ATF’s, including the 1993 federal assault weapons ban.
…because of the dramatic increase in the number of these weapons…: “Permanent Import Ban on Assault Rifles” The Washington Post 7/8/1989
As far back as 1982, advertisers…: Ads collected by Violence Policy Center (“That Was Then, This is Now” 1998 and “Bullet Hoses” 2003)
“To do anything about domestically manufactured weapons…”: “Weapon import ban expanded” The Day 04/06/1989
Colt Industries announced…: Los Angeles Times http://articles.latimes.com/1989-03-16/news/mn-2136_1_assault-rifles
Bill decided to send his response to each member…: HR 1154 report (above)
The limitations of California’s name-ban approach: “Republicans call gun ban ineffective” Lodi News-Sentinel 06/02/1989
“The notorious AK-47, for example”: Bush actually named the AKS-47, a common variant.
The gun-related provisions of the 1990 crime bill…: H.R.2709 – Comprehensive Violent Crime Control Act of 1989
Several states…quietly dropped the issue…: “Wave of gun legislation begun But slowed to a ripple” Ellensburg Daily Record 01/02/1990 and “Clash of Arms – The Great American Gun Debate” State of Hawaii Office of Legislative Reference, 1991
…gun provisions were stripped: House daily record, Oct 4 1990 page H8865
4. Human Animal
Main source: Anatomy of a Massacre — Karpf, Jason & Elinor (a detailed account of every aspect of the Luby’s shooting.)
….any ammunition magazine that holds more than 15 rounds…: technically, the bill made an exception for tubular magazines of .22 ammo. (S.1241 – Biden-Thurmond Violent Crime Control Act of 1991)
…Congress was debating another crime bill in Washington….: “ANNOUNCEMENT OF TRAGEDY IN KILLEEN, TX (House of Representatives – October 16, 1991) [Page: H7970]”
…during the next day’s sessions…: House Daily Record, October 17 1991 [Page H8023] OMNIBUS CRIME CONTROL ACT OF 1991
…President Bush granted a radio interview…: “Post-mortem on Killeen killings” Art Buchwald, Bangor Daily News 10/25/91
5. Earth Day
Something was definitely wrong…: Nancy’s difficult pregnancy, and the shooter’s early childhood, is documented in the Child Advocate Report, pgs 15-21 as well as Raising Adam Lanza.
…a photo of the newborn…: Cresta, Joey “Seacoast historian: Connecticut shooter born in Exeter” Seacoast Online 12/16/2012 (http://www.seacoastonline.com/article/20121216/NEWS/121219808)
…when a child is between 27 and 32 months…: New Hampshire state rules, Section He-M 500
…switched from “Family Centered Early Intervention”….pdf document “Part H of the IDEA Comes to NH” from dhhs.nh.gov
…One document from the time… Kovner, Josh & Altimari, Dave “Courant exclusive: More than 1,000 pages of documents reveal Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza’s dark descent into depravity” Hartford Courant 12/9/2018
…a woman named Suzanna entered…: this and later scenes featuring Suzanna are documented in her memoir, From Luby’s to the Legislature (Scene actually occurred in March 1995)
…signed into law by Governor George W. Bush: “Why Not Unconcealed Guns” The New York Times 09/03/1995
Main source: Marvin LaFontaine granted an interview to PBS Frontline for “Raising Adam Lanza“. A full transcript of the interview was published, as a supplement to the episode, under the title “Marvin LaFontaine: ‘Those Kids Were Everything’ to Nancy Lanza.” His home movie footage, showing Officer Champion interacting with the scouts and the Lanzas, was also part of the episode. Many more details come from his interview with the Connecticut State Police (Book 7 of the official report, file 00196017)
…she was filing a lawsuit…: Suffolk County court records, cases 9584CV02884 Lanza et al v John Hancock Distributors Inc and 9601CV044533 Lanza, Peter vs. John Hancock Distributors Inc.
…after returning from the Green Berets in 1993, Nancy’s kid brother…“Conn. killer’s NH kin express sorrow” New Hampshire Union Leader Cousineau, Michael & Schreiber, Jason 12/15/2012 (also see Town of Kingston, NH Annual report years 1983 and 1995)
Nancy sent a letter to the school district, beginning…: Glorioso, Chris & Jorgensen, Erica & Stulberger, Evan “I-Team: Childhood Documents Reveal Sandy Hook Shooter’s Descent Into Depravity” NBC4 New York 1/22/2019
…masked the fact that expressive language…: Child Advocate Report, pg 20
Connecticut was betting on Colt…: “Colt Unit Sold; Connecticut Among Buyers” The New York Times McQuiston, John; 03/23/1990
…a Belgian company, Fabrique Nationale…: http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/colt-s-manufacturing-company-inc-history/
“The state treasurer has made this very clear…”: “Critics say new Colt gun is an assault weapon” The Milwaukee Journal 04/25/1990
In California, it had been enough…: “Roberti Seeks State Ban on ‘Copy Cat’ Assault Rifles” Los Angeles Times; Moran, Julio 02/24/1994 and “Debut of Colt’s ‘Sporter’ Revives Assault-Rifle Debate” Jehl, Douglas 04/19/1990
“…a redesigned, renamed and renumbered version…”: “Lungren Files Suit to Add Semiautomatic Rifle to Banned List” Los Angeles Times 03/28/1991
…called attention to the gallery…: “Weicker Signs Bill to Forbid Assault Rifles” New York Times; Johnson, Kirk 06/09/1993
His vote put it over the top…: “Weapons Ban Is Approved by Connecticut Senate” New York Times; Johnson, Kirk 05/28/1993 and “Gun Ban Squeaks Throught” Hartford Courant Pazniokas, Mark 06/09/1993
It turned out the shooter had purchased…: “NRA loses shootout in Congress” The Times-News Dvorchack, Robert 07/08/91
…“the final war has begun”: “Terror in Oklahoma: Echoes of NRA” New York Times Butterfield, Fox 05/08/1995
“…his predecessors from the Oval Office…”: “Ford, Carter, Reagan Push for Gun Ban” Los Angeles Times; Eaton, William J. 05/05/94
“Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge…“: Ruby Ridge happened under Bush, not Clinton. The error is LaPierre’s.
…Suzanna Gratia spoke…: “Subcommittee on the […] Judiciary, 103rd Congress, 2nd Session on S.1882” (US Congress)
“I was amazed to see the degree…”: “Feinstein Faces Fight for Diluted Gun Bill” Los Angeles Times; Bunting, Glenn F. 11/09/93
NRA history: “The Secret History of Guns” The Atlantic; Winkler, Adam; September 2011
NRA 1977 Cincinnati coup: “Rifle Group ousts Most Leaders in Move to Bolster Stand on Guns.” New York Times 05/23/77
“…He worried that if he didn’t fight back now, the NRA might even die“:Birnbaum, Jeffrey H. “Under the Gun” Fortune; Dec 1999
“…jack-booted thugs…“: (https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-1995-04-27/html/CREC-1995-04-27-pt1-PgS5745-2.htm)
“Your broadside against federal agents…”: “Letter of Resignation Sent By Bush to Rifle Association” New York Times; 05/11/95
Moses Lake main source: “Scarred By Killings, Moses Lake Asks: ‘What Has This Town Become?'” Seattle Times 02/23/96 (Other details from coverage by The Spokesman: “How Many Were Shot?’ Boy’s Murder Confession Played At Emotional Evidence Hearing” 04/18/96; “Bloody movie, random violence thrilled Loukaitis, classmates say” 08/28/97; “Witnesses Say Loukaitis Vowed To Kill Prosecution Tries To Show Premeditation In Rampage” 04/17/96)
Bethel High: “WHERE RAMPAGES BEGIN: A special report.; From Adolescent Angst To Shooting Up Schools” The New York Times 06/14/98
Pearl High School main source: United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Jackson Division. Luke WOODHAM, Petitioner v. Michael WILSON and Jim Hood, Respondents. Civil Action No. 3:04cv48-HTW-JCS. Nov. 3, 2006. (Other details: “Mississippi Gothic” Time 10/20/1997)
Heath High School and Westside Middle School main source: Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings; Newman, Katherine
“Saint Paul reminds us…”: Clinton referred to this bible passage more famously after Columbine, but this was the first time.
Thurston High main source: “Of Arms And The Boy” Time 07/06/1998 and “The Killer at Thurston High” PBS: Frontline 6/18/2000
“WE HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG…”: “Where Rampages Begin” New York Times (see above)
Chapter 9: Grand Adventure
Main source: Child Advocate Report, pg 16-20
Nancy brought Adam to a pediatric neurologist…: CSP Official Report, Book 7, file 00003128
…a fact which likely indicates that none were available…: The scarcity of support options available is noted throughout the Child Advocate Report, ex: pg 89
…there was never any comprehensive clinical evaluation performed…: Child Advocate Report, pg 20
…Titanic, …Casablanca: “Nancy Lanza In Her Own Words” and interview with Marvin LaFontaine, PBS/Courant “Raising Adam Lanza”
Adam dressed up for Halloween in 1997…: “EXCLUSIVE: Adam Lanza’s murder spree at Sandy Hook may have been ‘act of revenge'” New York Daily News Schapiro, Rich & Lysiak, Matthew 04/07/2013 (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/lanza-article-1.1309766)
…fired a gun, likely for the first time…: CSP Official Report, Book 7, file 00196017
…what Nancy called their ‘grand adventure.’: “School Gunman’s Downward Spiral” The Wall Street Journal 12/22/2012 (http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324731304578193890846892734)
The primary basis for this chapter are the facts documented by the Cullen Inquiry, released in two documents: “Transcript of Proceedings at the Public Inquiry into Incident at Dunblane Primary School on 13th Match, 1996 within The Albert Halls, Dumbarton Road, Stirling” – a 3,376 page transcript of the inquiry (and also a 193 page summary with the same title, ISBN 0101338627.)
The latter portion of this chapter, dealing with the aftermath of the Dunblane shooting and a grieving father’s efforts with the Snowdrop Appeal, are from Mick North’s book Dunblane: Never Forget unless otherwise noted. (A great deal of Mr. North’s story deals with the shortcomings, if not corruption, of the Scottish Police. This was not included, in the interest of pacing. I highly recommend reading his book; similarly, there are facets to the “Scoutmaster” that were not mentioned or explored here: key among them, that the shooter had a history of financial insolvency that was catching up with him around the time of his attack.)
Sources from the Cullen Inquiry files are listed by name of witness giving testimony.
The surgeon: Brian David Fairgrieve; van incident: Robert Comrie Deuchars; (Note: the “leadership badge” in real life was something called a ‘warrant book,’ but functioned as depicted. Name changed for clarity.) firearms license renewals: Douglas McMurdo; Ombudsman’s Investigation: David Shelmerdine; Scoutmaster on family’s doorstep: George Robertson.
Hungerford details: “Arms dealer who sold rifle used in Hungerford massacre jailed for trafficking deadly missiles” Evening Standard Cheston, Paul 7/20/2012
…British Shooting Sports Council announcing a $160,000 publicity campaign…: “A Second Mass Killing in Britain Raises Call for Tighter Gun Laws” New York Times 10/16/87
Island camp, letter from concerned officer: George Gunn; Video from the camp: Joseph Holden; Bucket of “rubbish”: Janet Reilly (Note: Lord Cullen expressed doubt over several aspects of this witness’s testimony, but noted that the portions shown here had multiple corroborating witnesses); CPS letter: William Gallagher; Constable visiting flat: Anne Anderson; Purchase of handgun: Gary Hyde (Note: The transaction for the murder weapon was actually more involved, with the shooter trying to return it, and the gunsmith tricking out the gun significantly to get him to accept it); Letter to Dunblane Primary School: Ronald Taylor; Gunman pointed pistol: James O’Hanlon Gillespie; Letter to Buckingham Palace: John Ogg; Van rental: Karen Gillies; friend on phone: Danny McDonald; Dunblane shooting series of events: Malcolm Rodger Chisholm & Dunblane Report summary, statement of David Duke Scott
“…Murder and mayhem are ineradicably part of what…”: “Claiming a Right to Murder” – Theodore Dalrymple, The Spectator 30 March 1996
Naming of “Snowdrop Appeal”: “The Parents, the Government and the Gun” The Independent Castle, Stephen 10/20/1996 (Note: The launch of the “Snowdrop Appeal” occurred before the Cullen Inquiry convened, as did Mick North’s editorial.)
Dunblane Inquiry outcome: House of Commons transcript, HC Deb 16 October 1996 vol 282 cc823-32
…the father from Dunblane found that he agreed more with what an editorial…: Dunblane: Never Forget North, Mick pg 205; “Given the incidence of mental illness…”: pg 170; “…No more worship of guns”: pg 111; A month later, the gym was torn down entirely…”; pg 267; “…classes were back in session…”: “School takes small step on road back to normality” The Irish Times 03/23/96; “To be objective and detached is to deny the reality…”: North, pg 146; “…The spectre of the most pernicious and evil legislation…”: pg 183; “In the absence of guns he will use arson, or a stolen lorry…”: House of Commons transcript, HL Deb 24 October 1996 vol 575 cc23-102; …voice of actor Sean Connery…: North, pg 189; Home Secretary statement on passage of SA: “Daily Hansard” UK Parliament 10/16/1996; 1 year anniversary statement: North, pg 263