A brave school janitor, the scene at gunman Adam Lanza's home, and a first grader who prompted six of his classmates to run to safety are among the glimpses of the Newtown tragedy disclosed in a new report on the investigation into the mass shooting. The Newtown shooting, which left 20 students and 6 adults dead (not including the shooter or his mother), still doesn't have a public final police report. But the Hartford Courant's Dave Altimari and Steve Goode spoke to multiple unnamed sources familiar with the investigation to shed some light on what happened during the tragedy.
The report comes a day after Newtown officials announced that the town would not mark the December 14th anniversary of the tragedy with a commemoration, instead choosing to encourage residents to find "quiet, personal and respectful" ways to mark the anniversary — in other words, the town would like to avoid a reprisal of the national media circus that stayed for weeks in the town following the tragedy. The sustained national presence in the town was condemned by town officials and local media as the region started to pick up the pieces after the shooting.
The Courant report, which you can read in full here, is summarized below:
First-grader Jesse Lewis, who prompted his classmates to run for safety. This detail from the report, which Slate rightly flagged as its most heartbreaking, indicates how one student may have saved the lives of six of his classmates:
Through interviews with surviving children, sources said, investigators learned that some of Soto's students were holding hands in the far right hand corner near the chalkboard, away from Lanza's initial line of fire. When Lanza stopped firing because his gun jammed, student Jesse Lewis yelled for kids to run. Lewis was shot to death. Six of the children ran past Lanza to safety.
The school janitor who ran down the hallway, locking doors. Rick Thorne ran down the school hallways shortly after the shooting began, locking classroom doors with a master key. That key broke from use in one of the classroom doors, and SWAT team members had to get a copy from Thorne in order to clear the building.
Nancy Lanza was killed with her son's gun "pressed directly against her." The scene at the Lanza home described in the Courant is downright eerie: Lanza's bedroom, littered with detritus from the broken hard drives in his computer, was darkened with garbage bags over the window. His bed was made, and investigators found "an armoire held five matching tan-colored shirts with five pairs of khaki pants."
Lanza was prepared to ambush police. Lanza's car was apparently parked in a manner that would have allowed him to ambush police responding to the scene of the tragedy:
The spot gave him potentially a perfect line of sight to shoot at unsuspecting police driving down the long driveway, around a curve and into his line of fire. It also provided him cover since the school and woods were behind him.
Instead, Lanza killed himself with one of two shots fired from his pistol that day. Officials are using sophisticated techniques to extract clues to Lanza's movements that day from the sound recording of a 911 call. That call, placed by a secretary at the school, stayed open during the shooting.
SWAT didn't clear the room used by police as a command center. Two school staffers hid for several hours in the closet of Principal Dawn Hochsprung's's office, even after state police commandeered that room as an impromptu command center while responding to the shootings. SWAT never checked the closets for survivors.