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Nation & World

Article on NIU shooting, cache of weapons found in Newtown gunman's home

Cache of weapons found in Newtown gunman's home

DeKALB – A 2008 news article about the Northern Illinois University shootings were among the hundreds of items authorities removed from Adam Lanza’s home after he killed 27 people.

Authorities also found books on autism, a vast array of weaponry and images of what appear to be a dead person covered with plastic and blood.

Authorities released search warrant documents Thursday about their investigation of Lanza, who shot 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and his mother before taking his own life Dec. 14.

The documents provide the most insight to date into the world of the 20-year-old gunman, a recluse who played violent video games in a house packed with weaponry that was all too real.

The weapons used in the shooting had all apparently been purchased by Lanza’s mother, Nancy, with whom he lived, said prosecutor Stephen J. Sedensky III, in a statement accompanying the warrants.

She was found dead in her bed; Adam Lanza had shot her the morning of the massacre on Dec. 14. Authorities also found a gun safe in his bedroom and a holiday card from Nancy Lanza containing a check made out to her son for the purchase of yet another firearm.

If it’s possible to determine a motive for the massacre, there may be clues in Adam Lanza’s journals, which state police seized from the house and turned over to the FBI for analysis. But authorities say that so far no conclusions have been reached.

Sedensky estimated that the investigation will be finished this summer.

At the Lanza house, investigators found books about autism and Asperger’s syndrome, as well as one with tabbed pages titled “Train Your Brain to Get Happy.” Adam Lanza was said to have been diagnosed with Asperger’s, an autism-like disorder that is not associated with violence.

Investigators found a 7-foot pole with a blade on one side and a spear on another, a metal bayonet, three samurai swords, a .323-caliber bolt-action rifle, a .22-caliber Savage Mark II rifle and a .22-caliber Volcanic starter pistol. There was a military-style uniform in Lanza’s bedroom.

The New York Times article, “First on the Scene, Again, is the College Newspaper,” ran Feb. 18, 2008, was listed as Exhibit No. 630 in the search warrant return.

It described how then-The Northern Star editor-in-chief John Puterbaugh led his staff through coverage of the campus shooting that killed five students. The victims included Daniel Parmenter, who worked as a sales representative for the Northern Star,  the NIU student newspaper.

The article describes how Puterbaugh relied on past conversations with the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper at Virginia Tech to ensure his photographers had press passes and to remind his reporters to use Facebook to identify victims.

Five years later, Puterbaugh said it was “definitely a little weird” to think his name appeared among Lanza’s possessions, but his thoughts focused more on the national conversations of gun control and the causes of mass shootings.

Puterbaugh, a former Daily Chronicle employee who currently works for Wrapports, the Chicago Sun-Times’ parent company, said his thoughts didn’t immediately draw to the NIU shooting when he learned of the school shooting. The Newtown’s victims’ ages did affect him, though.

“Being a new father myself, that just cripples you, thinking how much should have been ahead of them,” Puterbaugh said. “... I’m just tired of people getting shot, whether it’s a dozen people at one time, one person a dozen separate times or an infant.”

As people nationwide grapple with what drove Lanza’s actions, Puterbaugh expects the answer lies with mental illness more than video games.

“I’m a huge Call of Duty [video game] fan, and I know a lot of people who don’t shoot schools who are Call of Duty fans,” he said. “... You can’t control or detect what’s going on in someone’s head, but it’s weird the connection you find.”

For his part, former Northern Star adviser Jim Killam, who also was interviewed for the 2008 New York Times article, said he found it a little creepy the article was found in Lanza’s home. But that’s as far as his feelings go, he said.

Killam collected news clippings from the student newspaper and other newspapers that ran front-page stories about the NIU but left them in a box at the Northern Star office at NIU.

“It’s not something I go back to and look at a lot,” Killam said.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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