NEW YORK — There were three samurai swords, with blades 13 inches, 21 inches and 28 inches long. There were hundreds of rounds of ammunition. There were targets, a bayonet, knives, pictures of a bloodied body wrapped in plastic, and guns. Lots of guns. And there were plans to buy more.
Among the items discovered by police after Adam Lanza shot dead 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was a holiday card from his mother, Nancy, with a check inside for her son to buy another gun, according to search warrants made public Thursday.
The documents offer a chilling view of Nancy and Adam Lanza's home and of the 20-year-old's actions Dec. 14, when his massacre sparked calls for stricter gun laws and set the stage for the showdown underway in Washington between supporters and opponents of such laws.
The release of the warrants by Connecticut officials appeared to give renewed energy to gun control advocates, who noted the multiple high-capacity magazines that Lanza possessed and how easily he was able to get his hands on deadly weapons.
"Now is the time to turn that heartbreak into something real," President Obama said as he demanded that Congress not get "squishy" and shy away from requiring background checks on all gun sales and banning high-capacity magazines.
"I haven't forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we've forgotten," said Obama, who was joined by some of the Newtown parents who lost children in Lanza's rampage.
In Newtown, a group that represents relatives of the slain and others, called for Congress to "pass sensible measures supported by the vast majority of Americans," an apparent allusion to universal background checks.
"The information revealed today underscores the need to turn this tragedy into transformation," said Tim Makris, the co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise. "It's time for our legislature to move forward with the strongest measures possible. The country is united that something must be done."
The papers made public were the beginning of what is likely to be a slow trickle of documents from investigators, who continue to comb through evidence and try to determine what caused Lanza to kill his mother and then target classrooms of first-graders at Sandy Hook.
Some of the items taken from the home and car of Adam Lanza:
- Document dated 10/9/10 pertaining to Nancy Lanza for sale or transfer of firearm
- Several boxes of ammunition for handguns, shotguns and rifles
- Firearms manuals including Bushmaster rifle and Glock pistol
- Metal bayonet
- One .22-caliber rifle with live ammunition
- Shotgun with two magazines containing 70 rounds
- Nine knives with blades from 3.75-12 inches long
- 6-foot wooden pole with blade and spear attached
- 3 swords with blades from 13-28 inches long
- Blue folder labeled "Guns" containing receipts and other firearm-related paperwork
- Paperwork dated 12/21/11 titled, "Connecticut Gun Exchange, Glock 20SF 10 mm FS 15 round FC."
- New York Times article on shooting at Northern Illinois University.
Source: Search warrants issued by superior court of Danbury, Conn.
Los Angeles Times
While the papers offered no motive, they suggested that Nancy Lanza, despite worrying about her son's mental and emotional well-being, did not consider him a threat and had no inkling he was on the verge of violence. Among the papers found in their yellow colonial-style home in the comfortable Connecticut town was a notepad with what appeared to be handwritten to-do lists for Nancy Lanza, from Dec. 14 through Dec. 20.
According to the documents, Nancy Lanza, 52, was found shot dead in her bed, the first victim of her son. A .22-caliber rifle was found on the floor nearby. "There was no indication of a struggle," Stephen J. Sedensky III, the state's attorney for the judicial district that includes Newtown, said in a statement accompanying the search warrants.
After killing his mother, Adam Lanza drove her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where classes were just getting underway. After shooting his way into the building, he used a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle to fire at least 154 bullets at 20 first-graders and several school employees clustered in two classrooms, Sedensky said. Lanza then used a Glock 10-millimeter handgun to shoot himself in the head. He died on the floor of a classroom where some of his victims also lay.
According to the documents, Lanza was dressed in military-style clothing. "Numerous schoolchildren and school personnel were located deceased in the first ... classrooms located off the main hallway, adjacent to the school's front entrance," they said.
Sedensky said it took no more than five minutes for Lanza to get into the school and carry out his rampage, and it was clear he could have killed many more people had he not killed himself as police arrived.
Three 30-round magazines for the Bushmaster, each containing 30 rounds, were found on Lanza, and 14 rounds were left in the magazine he was using when the shooting stopped. Six more 30-round magazines were scattered about the shooting scene; three were empty and three contained some live rounds.
Lanza also was carrying a loaded 9-millimeter Sig Sauer handgun and the loaded Glock. In his mother's car, police recovered a loaded 12-gauge shotgun. At his home, they discovered the .22-caliber rifle used to kill Nancy Lanza, a .323-caliber bolt-action rifle, a .22-caliber revolver "starter pistol" and a BB gun, along with the swords, a collection of knives and a trove of gun paraphernalia. It included a rifle scope, boxes and cans filled with ammunition, earplugs, eye protection and a book titled "NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting."
A gun safe inside the house was open and there was no sign of forced entry, indicating that Adam Lanza had easy access to the weapons.
Papers found there included journals kept by Lanza and one kept by his older brother, Ryan, from whom Adam was estranged. The warrants also noted two National Rifle Assn. certificates, one for Adam Lanza and one for Nancy Lanza. The organization, which opposes the gun laws backed by Obama, quickly distanced itself from the pair and said it had no record of either of them being members.