NEW YORK — Police responding to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., last year found the hallway strewn with rifle casings, the "distinct smell of fired ammunition" in the building, and children and teachers locked in closets and afraid to open the doors, the final investigative report said Friday.
The trove of material, which includes thousands of reports, photographs, videos and recordings of 911 calls, captures the terror and confusion as emergency responders tried to determine how many shooters were in the building and as parents tried to find their children in the chaos. It also includes officers' stark descriptions of finding bodies as they went through the school — and the urgent calls for help from people trapped on campus.
"Please hurry, please hurry, please hurry," an increasingly panicked school employee whispered to a state police 911 dispatcher as gunfire sounded in the background.
"Take a deep breath. Think of your children," the dispatcher said as she tried to calm down the woman. The woman began praying over the phone, saying repeatedly, "Please, Jesus; please, Jesus."
"I'm at the firehouse in Sandy Hook and I can't find my son!" a mother cried frantically over the line after the gunfire had ended and police began taking survivors to the nearby firehouse.
The material is the final report from state and local law enforcement officials on the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting that left 20 first-graders and six adults dead. Gunman Adam Lanza, 20, who had killed his mother, Nancy, earlier in the day, shot himself to death inside the school.
Last month, prosecutors released a summary of the final report that shed light on Lanza's mental illness, his obsession with mass murders, and the troubled home he shared with his mother in an upscale area of Newtown. It revealed that Nancy Lanza worried about her son's condition but allowed him to dictate rules of the house, including banning her from his bedroom and not allowing her to put up a Christmas tree.
Adam Lanza kept his bedroom windows covered in black plastic and rarely went out. As he grew more isolated, Lanza only spoke to his mother via email or text, the summary said. Inside the Lanza home, investigators found several books on Asperger's syndrome, with which Adam Lanza had been diagnosed several years earlier.
It also said that Nancy Lanza had several legally purchased and registered guns in their home, along with ammunition.
The new report goes over much of the same information but provides more details of what investigators found inside the Lanza home and how Nancy Lanza spent her final days, including a meal the day before her death at which she discussed her son's problems with a companion.
The report notes she had taken a trip to New Hampshire just before the shooting, telling a friend it was an "experiment to allow Adam to stay home alone for a few days."
Much of the information, including photographs of the victims, is redacted in keeping with state law.
One picture shows Nancy Lanza's bed, a large red bloodstain across the white sheets. Her shoes are in neat rows beneath the bed, near the .22-caliber rifle that her son used to kill her.
Other pictures from inside the home showed a photograph of a young boy holding a gun, with ammunition spread across his lap; rooms full of bags from designer clothing stores; and college graduation pictures of Adam Lanza's estranged brother, Ryan.
Videos taken by cameras posted on state troopers' cars show them barreling along the state highway toward Newtown as word spread that an active gunman, possibly more than one, was on the loose at the school. Recordings of police chatter show that first responders found two sweaters when they entered the school, suggesting to them that there was more than one shooter.
Some of the documents record how police, often accompanied by clergy and social workers, visited the families of those slain in the massacre. One investigative report describes how Trooper Rafael Figueiral went to a home with Father Michael Novajosky to tell relatives of Victoria Soto, a first-grade teacher, that she had been among those killed. "Father Novajosky offered a prayer to which they gladly accepted," the report states.
The report also revealed the breadth of gunfire that day, describing bullet holes found on the car of one victim that was parked in the school's parking lot. The vehicle, a Honda with a decal that read "I my cat," had three "suspected bullet strikes," according to one of the thousands of brief police reports summarizing the scene.
At least one other car in the lot also had damage from bullets, according to police reports. It was not clear whether the bullet holes came from Lanza's gun or the police.
Reuben F. Bradford, commissioner of the state's Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, described the investigation as "unparalleled in the 110-year history of the Connecticut State Police."
In a letter accompanying the report, Bradford also alluded to the opposition by many Newtown residents and state officials to the release of the information. Several victims' families, and some officials, have said such information should remain sealed out of consideration for survivors.
Bradford said he hoped the details in the report, "though painful, will allow those who have been affected by it to continue in their personal process of healing and will provide helpful information that can be put to use to prevent such tragedies in the future."
Times staff writer Richard A. Serrano contributed to this report.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times