Newtown shooter Adam Lanza had the capacity to kill thousands more: it only took the 20-year-old just five minutes to kill 26 people – and in his home, police found more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition that could have made the massacre that much worse.
Connecticut State Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III, the chief prosecutor investigating the shooting, on Thursday revealed that it took Lanza just under five minutes to go through 154 rounds of ammunition, leaving 20 elementary school children and six staffers dead.
The statement accompanied the release of five search warrants, which describe the weapons and ammunition cache police found in the shooter’s home. Authorities found at least nine knives, two rifles, 1,600 rounds of ammunition, three Samuri swords, and a 7-foot pole with a blade on one side and a spear on the other. Police also found six additional 30-round magazines at the site of the shooting, three of which were empty and three of which each had about a dozen bullets left in them. About 154 .223 caliber casings were also found dispersed throughout Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Investigators believe that all of the weapons were purchased by the gunman’s mother, who Lanza fatally shot in the head before making his way to the elementary school on December 14.
In comparing the magazines found at the gunman’s home to the ones found at the elementary school, investigators concluded that Lanza purposefully chose the high-capacity ones for his killing spree. Gun control advocates have used this finding to further emphasize the need for restrictions on ‘assault-style’ weaponry.
“We now know that he left the lower-capacity magazines at home,” Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement. “This is exactly why we need to ban high-capacity magazines and why we need to tighten our assault-weapons ban. I don’t know what more we need to know before we take decisive action to prevent gun violence. The time to act is now.”
While a shockingly large stock of weapons and ammunition was found in the home Lanza shared with his mother, the young adult's literature collection also shows insight into his state of mind before the massacre. Investigators found books about autism and Asperger’s syndrome, a National Rifle Association guide to pistol shooting, a book entitled “Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Mind of an Autistic Savant”, and a book entitled “Train your brain to get happy” – all of which may reinforce the psychological problems with which the shooter may have self-diagnosed himself.
Investigators also found three photographs “of what appears to be a deceased human covered with plastic and what appears to be blood,” and a 2008 New York Times article about a massacre that took place at an Illinois university, the warrants state.
The documents also describe Lanza as “an avid gamer" who preferred first-person shooter game Call of Duty, an unnamed source close to the shooter told investigators.
The warrants were released because a judge’s order to seal them expired on Wednesday. The contents of the warrants were made public, minus the name of a witness and personal information including telephone numbers and serial numbers of items found during the investigation.
The findings of the investigation shed further light on the tragedy and the background of the gunman – but Sedensky says no solid conclusions have been made regarding the 20-year-old’s motive behind the deadly five-minute shooting spree.