Newtown panel hopes to receive gunman's records

AP News
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Posted: Jan 10, 2014 4:05 PM

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The chairman of a state commission reviewing the Newtown school massacre said Friday he's had "fruitful discussions" with a representative of gunman Adam Lanza's family about possibly obtaining Lanza's mental health and other records, something commission member say they need to make recommendations on mental health policy.

Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson said he believes, after talking with the family's contact, that Lanza's father, Peter, wants to help the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, which was appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy following the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting, which left 20 first-graders and six educators dead.

"He wants to be cooperative. He understands, I think, that this is a story that has to be told in order for us to enhance our community's safety," Jackson said. "So the details of how it will happen is what we need to kind of drill down toward."

Jackson said he hopes to learn more in the coming days about when or if the panel can obtain the documents. He hopes the commission can present recommendations on mental health, school security and public safety around the end of March.

Dr. Harold Schwartz, a commission member and psychiatrist-in-chief at Hartford Hospital's Institute for Living, has expressed concern about the lack of original documents and records concerning Adam Lanza's mental state released by the prosecutor and state police who investigated the mass shooting. He said he still hopes Peter Lanza will meet with commission members with mental health expertise and personally discuss his son's issues and treatment, but Jackson said "that's not really my request now."

Mental health experts on the commission have said they'd like to know about any gaps in treatment Adam Lanza might have had in order to recommend how Connecticut and other states can better help families who may be struggling to find appropriate mental health care for their children.

One document included in the approximately 7,000 pages recently released by the state police showed that Dr. Robert A. King, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine Child Study Center, told investigators that he had diagnosed Lanza with "profound Autism Spectrum Disorder, with rigidity, isolation and lack of comprehension of ordinary social interaction and communications," while also displaying symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Lanza's father has said his son had Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism not associated with violence.

"If the father will actually talk with us, either in a hearing of this kind of a subset of our group in another setting, it would help to lend detail that we don't have about Adam Lanza's life and about his medical condition and the treatments he may or may not have ever received, the efforts of the family to get help, etc.," Schwartz said.

Also Friday, members of a subcommittee studying school safety measures said they were in the process of putting together their recommendations for the commission's full report. Robert Dubicella, a security consultant, said one recommendation will likely be enhanced "forced-entry resistance" at the schools to buy time for law enforcement to arrive at the scene and stop a shooter. One part of that enhancement could be laminated glass, which Dubicella said is currently used in beach communities.

"If you put it in houses now for hurricane design, why can't you use an upgraded version of that in our schools to protect our kids?" he asked.