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Investigators recover Lanza computer data

Updated 12:03 pm, Monday, February 18, 2013

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  • First responders converge at Sandy Hook Fire Department near Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Dec. 14, 2012. Twenty children and six teachers were killed in the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Photo: Morgan Kaolian, Morgan Kaolian/AEROPIX / Connecticut Post Freelance
    First responders converge at Sandy Hook Fire Department near Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Dec. 14, 2012. Twenty children and six teachers were killed in the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Photo: Morgan Kaolian, Morgan Kaolian/AEROPIX

 

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Michael P. Mayko

and Ken Dixon

NEWTOWN -- Investigators have succeeded in recovering some data from one of the damaged hard drives in a computer used by Adam Lanza and have subpoenaed computers of people they believe were in contact with the Sandy Hook mass murderer, a law enforcement source said Friday.

Another smashed hard drive still is being reconstructed by technicians with the U.S. Department of Defense, the source said.

Authorities are particularly interested in what relationships Lanza had within the online and video game community, hoping there may be clues about what provoked him to shoot his mother to death and then kill 20 first-graders and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on the morning of Dec. 14.

Earlier in their investigation, State Police had found a trove of violent gaming material at the Newtown home Lanza shared with his mother, Nancy.

Lanza attempted to destroy the computer hard drives either on the day of the shootings or shortly earlier.

Investigators also have concluded that Adam Lanza's mother did not restrict his access to the Bushmaster rifle and three other guns he took to Sandy Hook school to embark on his killing spree, according to another law enforcement source familiar with the investigation.

Nancy Lanza "had the means to secure the weapons" inside the Yogananda Street home she shared with her 20-year-old son, but the security measures she employed didn't include keeping them away from Adam, the source said. Nancy Lanza and her son had frequently used area firing ranges.

How Nancy Lanza's weapons were stored is of interest to state lawmakers as they draft gun-control proposals in the aftermath of the Newtown school shooting. They have asked the state's attorney's office for an update on the investigation, seeking information not only about the weapons Lanza used but also the state of his mental health.

In addition to the high-powered rifle that Lanza wielded to blast his way into the school, the two handguns he was carrying and a shotgun police found in the trunk of the car he drove, there was one other weapon in the Lanza house -- an "old Springfield rifle" -- one of the law enforcement sources told Hearst Connecticut Newspapers.

The source said the bullets that struck three cars in the Sandy Hook Elementary parking lot were fired from inside one of the classrooms and exited the building through the windows. It's not yet clear whether the shots had been aimed at arriving police officers or were just shots that had gone wild.

State police also are returning to families the since-laundered clothes worn by the victims when they were killed. Some of the families are accepting them. Others don't want them back.

Investigators appear to be making slow but dogged process.

"There is a lot of evidence that was recovered, but the question is, what does it tell us?" said one law enforcement source. "This is not a who-done-it."

Stephen J. Sedensky III, the state's attorney in Danbury who oversees the investigation, said Friday, "I expect that it will go on for a number of months, but I hope that it can be (completed) within the time frame that I testified to before the Legislature, which is the summer."

In the two months since the shootings, Newtown residents have sought to achieve some degree of normalcy, albeit a new one.

The students of Sandy Hook now attend classes at the former Chalk Hill Middle School in neighboring Monroe. The building was quickly upgraded with the latest security measures and also refurbished to remind students of their old home.

The fate of the Sandy Hook school building has been the subject of two lively town hall meetings, with residents divided over whether the building that housed kindergarten through fourth grade should be razed or converted to some other use.

Some parents in the school district are pushing for a continued presence by armed security guards or police officers at all seven district schools.

More than $9 million has been raised by the United Way's Sandy Hook Relief Fund, the largest of several ventures to help the victims' families, first responders and the community at large.

Several family members of the victims have joined Sandy Hook Promise, a community group that seeks a broad national dialogue on ways to avoid future mass shootings and on how to promote community healing.

Victims' family members have cautiously stepped into the public arena, joining gun-control rallies, urging attention for mental health treatment and attending President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

On Friday, Obama at a White House ceremony awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor, to the families of the six slain teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook.

The recommendations of Vice President Joe Biden's task force on gun violence either have been enacted into executive actions by Obama or referred to Congress for review. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said last week that lawmakers are likely to support universal background checks for gun purchasers, but are divided on whether to limit large-capacity ammunition magazines and to ban assault weapons.

Two state task forces are reviewing the events of Dec. 14 -- a blue-ribbon panel appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and a bipartisan group of state legislators.

House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. said Friday he anticipates bills to come before the House and Senate by March 13, and perhaps a week earlier.

Cafero said he has given Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane a list of 10 questions that would aid lawmakers in fashioning proposals, including whether Nancy Lanza used a storage locker or some sort of safe to store her weapons; details on Adam Lanza's mental health history; whether he attempted to buy guns on his own; and exactly which guns he used in the killings.