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Police Chief James Viadero said this week that some information, which is contained in the recently disclosed 1,500 pages of FBI investigatory files on the 12/14 shooting incident at Sandy Hook School, erroneously states that town police had learned several years earlier of shooter Adam Lanza’s intent to shoot and kill his mother and people at Sandy Hook School.
The FBI recently released the heavily redacted files in response to Freedom of Information requests. The released documents are not a report with a narrative, but only a compilation of files providing fragmentary and often inconclusive information on the FBI investigation due to the extensive redaction.
Chief Viadero said in a statement, “The Newtown Police Department has been working closely with the FBI on verifying information [in the files]. A comprehensive search of our records indicates that the person named in the [files] is not on record as ever contacting the [Newtown] agency in 2008, or subsequent to that date. We thank the FBI for their assistance and diligence in verifying the information.”
Chief Viadero said October 30 that because the section of the files alleging that town police had been previously informed of the shooter’s homicidal intent was so heavily redacted, he had the FBI provide town police with a complete copy of the pertinent three-page document, so that police could check their records on whether town police had ever received such a communication. Consequently, no such communication was found, he said. Police only learned the name of the man who had allegedly contacted them after receiving a complete copy of the three-page document, he said.
With the extensive redactions present in the FBI investigatory files, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the content of those documents, Chief Viadero said. Town police did not have access to the FBI files before they were released to the public, he noted.
The release of the documents has a negative effect on the surviving family members of the victims, as well as the community, Chief Viadero said.
“It was a very thorough investigation,” Chief Viadero said, noting participation by the FBI, state police, and town police.
Police received hundreds of calls after the incident from people providing information they thought would be useful to police, Chief Viadero said.
To corroborate the Newtown police’s findings, Chief Viadero pointed to a conclusion that was made by Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III, based on the state police’s 2013 investigatory report on the 12/14 incident.
In November 2013, in the state’s 12/14 investigatory report, Mr Sedensky refuted “a report that a man claimed, that while in Oklahoma, a woman told him about the planned shooting before the shooting occurred. Federal law enforcement investigated this and found that it could not be true.”
In a statement, Patricia Ferrick, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s New Haven field office, said, “The FBI’s release of investigative information on the Sandy Hook tragedy was made through the Freedom of Information Act… as required by law. However, I understand that doing so renews the anguish for the victims’ families, as well as for our community.”
“Even though the documents are meant to stand on their own, I want to assure the community that all information received and allegations made before, during, and after the tragedy were thoroughly investigated,” she said.
Hundreds of the 1,500 pages of FBI files were heavily redacted subpoenas. The files also contain numerous interviews with unidentified persons in the days immediately following the tragedy, reports of threats by telephone, and other miscellaneous reports to the local police and the FBI in the years that have followed.
A comprehensive report from Mr Sedensky is included in the FBI files, with a summary of the 12/14 incident, evidence examination, and investigative conclusions.
Much of the information found in the FBI files has been previously reported. An assessment of the shooter included in those files supports the findings of a 2014 report from the state’s Office of the Child Advocate.