Adam Lanza's Father Willing to Release Medical Records To Sandy Hook Commission
Peter Lanza Has Also Agreed To Talk To Commission Chair
By KATHLEEN MEGAN, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
10:39 p.m. EST, January 10, 2014
HARTFORD — Adam's Lanza's father, Peter Lanza, is willing to release any medical records he can about his son and to meet privately with the chairman of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, according to a statement released late Friday afternoon.
A month ago, members of the commission said that it was vital to have access to more information about Adam Lanza's mental health history, but it has been unclear until now whether his family would release any available records to the commission.
A statement released by Lanza's spokesman, Errol Cockfield, said, "As Mr. Lanza has informed law enforcement officials throughout this process, he is willing to approve the release of any medical records that he has the authority to release.'
The statement said that Lanza has also let commission chairman Scott Jackson know that he is willing to meet with him privately "towards reaching that goal."
Sign Up For Traffic Text Alerts
In addition, Lanza is encouraging Jackson "to invite any health care or service providers that worked with Adam to assist with the commission's effort to find answers."
The commission was created by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy after Lanza, 20, killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. Lanza, who also killed his mother at their home, fatally shot himself within minutes of police arriving on the scene.
The advisory group was charged with coming up with recommendations to improve school security, mental health services and gun violence prevention.
Jackson, who led a meeting of the commission Friday morning, was informed later in the day that Peter Lanza would contact him early next week to discuss the records.
"I'm going to sort of defer my analysis of what this means until I talk to him," Jackson said late Friday.
But Jackson did say that mental health records and school reports about Lanza are "something that commission members, particularly those engaged in mental health services, really feel they require in order to make credible policy recommendations."
At the meeting early Friday, Jackson said he had been working with an attorney representing Peter Lanza who had said his client wants to be "cooperative and helpful."
"We're drilling down into the ways in which they feel they can be helpful to us," Jackson said at the meeting, "… to create a greater picture of the young man who went off the tracks so badly."
The development came as welcome news to Dr. Hank Schwartz, a commission member and psychiatrist-in-chief at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living. Schwartz said late Friday that he was "very pleased" to hear of Peter Lanza's offer.
"I hope this access to Mr. Lanza and to these medical records will help the commission to understand the mental state of Adam Lanza in a way that will facilitate our understanding and our ability to make recommendations about mental health issues," Schwartz said.
Commission members had hoped they might glean more information from two major reports released late last year on the shootings. However, commission members said the first report prepared by Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky did not provide enough information about Adam Lanza's mental health history. The second report, which was a compilation of documents from the state police investigation, was too large — more than 6,500 pages — and disorganized to know all that was in it, several commission members said.
During their meeting, commission members also spoke about how difficult it has been to search the state police documents, which lack an index. "I've spent many, many hours, and opened thousands of files to scan them quickly to see if the subject is germane," Schwartz said. "The process has been extraordinarily frustrating."
Schwartz said he couldn't imagine how Sedensky or others have been able to use the report.
Jackson concurred, saying the value of the document "is still cloudy to us" because no one has been able to get through all of it. "If there is a gem in there, if there is a nugget buried somewhere, we can't find it the way it is right now," he said.
Jackson said he would also talk to the state police to see if they have an index or search function for the documents. A spokesman for the police said late Friday that he did not think this was available.
Daniel J. Klau, the attorney for the commission, said his law firm, McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, is planning to use software to "translate" the documents into "searchable text."
Jackson said he expects that process will take about a week to 10 days. Klau said the search capability will first be available to commission members, but he hopes it will eventually be open to the public.
During a discussion about school security at Friday's meeting, Robert Ducibella, a commission member, told the group that schools could delay an aggressor's entry if they had "laminated glass" in the doorways.
At Sandy Hook, Lanza was able to shoot his way through doors by blasting the glass, which immediately shattered. Laminated glass does not shatter, Ducibella said, and would require the aggressor to take a sledgehammer to it. If schools had two sets of doors in the lobby and a secure classroom door, Ducibella said, it might delay the aggressor by six minutes or so. The doors could "buy time" Ducibella said, until the police arrive.