There could never be a rational explanation for gunning down a classroomful of small children. But the search for at least an official answer to the question "why" ended on Monday afternoon, when investigators in Newtown, Conn., said that shooter Adam Lanza had "no conclusive motive." The report also discovered that Lanza acted alone in murdering 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December.
The 20-year-old "had significant mental health issues that, while not affecting the criminality of the shooter’s mental state for the crimes or his criminal responsibility for them, did affect his ability to live a normal life and to interact with others," the Office of the State's Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury said in the summary report.
There was no indication of why Lanza chose Sandy Hook Elementary School as his target, "other than perhaps its close proximity" to his home, according to the results of the nearly year-long investigation.
Lanza’s mental health condition worsened as he grew older, and he often had extreme anxiety and discomfort with changes, noise, physical contact with others, and walking in between classes. Throughout his life he had been evaluated for speech and language needs, seizures, and obsessive compulsive disorder tendencies.
The shooter was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in 2005. He became “more of a loner,” and was home-schooled for a period of time during high school, officials said.
“It is unknown what contribution, if any, the shooter’s mental health issues made to his attack on [Sandy Hook Elementary School]. Those mental health professionals who saw him did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior,” according to the report.
He declined to use suggested medication or to participate in advised therapies.
Lanza also shot his mother, Nancy, before driving to the 600-student elementary school on the morning of Dec. 14. Evidence indicates that he planned his actions, including the fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The investigation discovered that Lanza communicated with his mother only through emails for weeks before the shooting.
The appendix to the 48-page document included photos of the Lanza household, the weapons used in the shooting, and the shattered school entrance, but it did not include photos of the victims. Before the six-month anniversary of the tragedy, their families persuaded Connecticut lawmakers to refrain from releasing the crime scene photos. The bill, signed by the Connecticut State House, Senate, and Gov. Dannel Malloy, also places a one-year ban on releasing audio recordings that describe any of the victims' conditions, with the exception of emergency phone calls.
The new report confirmed Lanza’s inclination for video games. Officials seized multiple fighting and shooting games and systems from his home, including multiple versions of “Call of Duty,” “Dead or Alive 3,” and “Halo.”
The investigation also found items on Lanza's hard drive and memory card, including separate images of him holding a handgun and rifle to his head, two videos depicting suicide-by-gunshot, and website bookmarks related to firearms and the military.
The Lanza house contained more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition for multiple weapons, including the rifle and handgun he used to carry out the massacre, which took less than five minutes. A previously released report disclosed other findings inside the home, including a holiday card with a check from his mother to buy a firearm and a New York Times article about a 2008 school shooting at Northern Illinois University.
A full toxicology report released last month revealed that no substances were found in Lanza's body, according to NBC News.
Many of the victims’ family members have become gun-safety advocates, and have visited Capitol Hill.
Most recently, a group of residents from Newtown and their supporters joined together to launch the Parent Together campaign with the goal of resetting the gun-control debate by focusing on the desire to protect children rather than on politics.
Students haven't stepped inside Sandy Hook Elementary School since the shooting. They finished the academic year at the vacant Chalk Hill Middle School in nearby Monroe, where they also currently attend classes.
Construction crews last month began razing the Sandy Hook school after the town voted to rebuild on the same property. Nothing will stand where the massacre happened.
The tragedy was the second-worst school shooting in American history; a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007. It renewed a nationwide debate about gun control. President Obama outlined and signed a 23-point gun-control order a month after the Newtown shooting. He also recently announced the new parity rule that will grant Americans the same mental health and addiction coverage as for physical ailments.
Connecticut's Democratic Gov. Malloy earlier this year signed a gun-control bill that requires universal background checks for all firearms purchasers and adds more than 100 firearms to the state's previously existing list of banned weapons.
With the one-year mark less than three weeks away, there are painful divides of how to commemorate the victims. Many Newtown residents and officials have expressed their desire to be left alone, urging the media to stay out of the community.
A pro-firearm group will sponsor a "Guns Saves Lives Day" on Dec. 15. After facing widespread criticism, the group moved the date from Dec. 14.
The town remains divided on how the 26 families should receive donated money from victim compensation funds.
Click here to read the full report published on the State of Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice website.