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State Review Panel Wants To Know More About Mental State Of 12/14 Perpetrator

HARTFORD (AP) — Some members of a state commission reviewing the Newtown school shooting said December 20 they need more detailed information about the killer’s mental state. Members of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission also want to know his access to treatment before they can make any substantial recommendations concerning mental health policy.

Dr Harold Schwartz, psychiatrist-in-chief at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living, said he was distressed by the amount of information on 20-year-old Adam Lanza’s mental health issues that was not included in the investigative report into the massacre, released last month by Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III.

‘‘I understand that some information is confidential. We have confidentiality laws, so if somebody saw a mental health professional and there’s a record of that, that information is not routinely available,’’ said Dr Schwartz, a member of Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission. ‘‘However, this is not a routine situation.’’

Dr Schwartz said the commission should make a ‘‘full court press’’ to obtain additional documents, such as a copy of a manuscript Lanza wrote in the fifth grade at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The main character in Lanza’s manuscript, The Book of Granny, has a gun in her cane and shoots people, and another character likes hurting people, including children.

‘‘I'd like to know whether any other adult saw that document,’’ said Dr Schwartz, adding how it could reflect on a missed opportunity to address any mental health problems the perpetrator was suffering.

Commission members are also hoping to gain access to other documents, such as medical or mental health records and reports from planning and placement team meetings held at schools Lanza attended.

Dr Schwartz said he would also like to ask surviving parent Peter Lanza to testify before the commission on the family’s efforts to find help for Adam Lanza, adding there are many families in Connecticut struggling to find mental health services for their children.

Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson, the commission’s chairman, said ‘‘we can ask nicely’’ if Peter Lanza could address the group.

‘‘I would want to be extremely sensitive,’’ he said, adding how it should probably be a subset of the panel that included members who are mental health professionals. Mayor Jackson said he is also working on obtaining other documents the commission wants.

The commission is trying to wrap up its work after months of meetings, hoping to submit a report early next year on the mass shooting that includes recommendations on various public safety policies, including mental health and school security. The panel, which last met in August, had been waiting for Mr Sedensky’s report in hopes of gaining some more insight into the event.

But commission members on Friday complained there was little context to some details in the prosecutor’s report, such as mentioning the perpetrator was diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder — an autism-like condition that is not associated with violence — but not including the types of specialists that may have seen him over the years.

Alice Forrester, executive director of the Clifford W. Beers Guidance Clinic Inc., a community mental health provider in New Haven, said the panel has no information about the ‘‘developmental trajectory’’ of Lanza’s life.

She said the commission needs to know what happened to him between birth and age 20, when, according to Sedensky’s report, Lanza had reached a point where he wouldn’t allow anyone into his room and covered his windows with black plastic.

Weeks before the shooting, the report said Nancy Lanza expressed concern about her son and said he hadn’t gone anywhere in three months and would only communicate with her through email.

‘‘I feel we can only make very broad assumptions with the information, or lack of information, that we have,’’ Ms Forrester said.

Also on Friday, the commission heard from members of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, which at the request of Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe, conducted a review of the department’s response.

In that report, released earlier this month, the chiefs said officers responded rapidly and followed current policy.

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