Sandy Hook Shooter Researched NIU Massacre

"You can only wonder what his interest was," says then-editor of NIU Northern Star

Newtown Connecticut gunman Adam Lanza, who killed 26 people, including 20 children inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, had researched previous shootings, including the 2008 massacre at Northern Illinois University.

An article referencing the NIU shooting was among the items investigators found at Lanza's home following the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., according to documents released Thursday.

Search warrants revealed the Feb. 18, 2008, New York Times newspaper clipping was seized from the home along with a massive collection of guns and ammunition, and three images of what appeared to be a deceased human covered with plastic and blood.

The Times story was entitled “First on the Scene, Again, Is the College Newspaper,” and it detailed the coverage of the shooting by NIU’s "Northern Star" student paper.

"You can never know what’s going on in any one person’s mind," said former Northern Star editor John Puterbaugh, who said what he remembered most from that day in Dekalb was "disarray."

"I remember when it happened, students were reacting as you might expect they would, fleeing the building…and just doing our best to be journalists," he said.

Puterbaugh, now a content manager with Wrapports, the parent of the Chicago Sun-Times, says what he finds most disturbing is that Lanza, in Connecticut, seemed fascinated by the media coverage of the NIU shooting.

"You can only wonder what his interest was," Puterbaugh said. "Was it an attempt to gauge the potential reaction his own crimes would elicit? Was it a curiosity about what the public is going to have to go through, after a crime like that happens?"

The disturbing finds were detailed in a long-awaited set of court documents revealing what investigators found when they searched Lanza's home and car after the massacre.

The Connecticut prosecutor leading the investigation into the massacre said Thursday that Lanza killed all 20 children, six adults then himself at Sandy Hook within five minutes of storming the school.

He fired 154 rounds with a Bushmaster .223 caliber rifle then took his own life with a single shot from a Glock 10 mm handgun, Danbury State's Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III said. Investigators found that he still carried 3 additional magazines, each of which contained 30 rounds.

After the shooting, investigators found Lanza’s car, a black 2010 four-door Honda Civic sedan, in the Sandy Hook Elementary School parking lot. Inside, they found the 12-gauge shotgun, and 70 rounds of ammunition.

At the Lanza home, investigators said they found that the family kept a veritable arsenal of ammunition, guns and even swords. The search turned up a variety of receipts and emails documenting firearms, ammunition, and other shooting supplies. Police reported they found information about the Sandy Hook school itself, personal journals, and school paperwork pertaining to Adam Lanza. They also found numerous books about mental health, including one entitled, "Look Me in the Eye -- My Life With Asburger’s," and another, "Born on a Blue Day -- Inside the Mind of an Autistic Savant."

Adam Lanza was said to have been diagnosed with Asberger’s Syndrome, which mental health experts say is not associated with violence.

Investigators said they also found a copy of the "NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting," and a holiday card from Adam Lanza’s mother, containing a check made out to her son for the purchase of a firearm.

Nancy Lanza was her son’s first victim. Her body was found in her bed, with a single gunshot wound to the forehead.

The shooting at Northern Illinois University is one the state will not soon forget.

On Feb. 14, 2008, Steven Kazmierczak fatally shot five students before turning the gun on himself during a geology class in Cole Hall at NIU.

In total 25 people were shot in the lecture hall. NIU has since marked the tragedy yearly as families and students stop to remember and hope to move forward.

On the day of the Sandy Hook shootings, Gov. Pat Quinn said he was "shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the horrific massacre," offering prayers on behalf of Illinois and recalling the state's own tragedy in 2008.

"We know firsthand from the tragedy that took place on February 14, 2008 in a classroom at Northern Illinois University that guns have no place in any school, at anytime, anywhere in Illinois or America."

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