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Police To Re-Create Scene Outside Sandy Hook School

Bullets Hit Cars In Parking Lot, And Officers Want To Know If Lanza Was Firing At Them

By DAVE ALTIMARI and JON LENDER and EDMUND H. MAHONY, daltimar@courant.com

The Hartford Courant

6:00 PM EST, December 29, 2012

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State police are considering partially re-creating the scene outside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14 as the first police officers responded to the mass shooting to try and answer a nagging question: Did Adam Lanza fire at police officers?

Police are discussing bringing back some of the cars that were in the school lot as the first Newtown officers and state police troopers arrived following 911 calls that was a shooter was on the loose. The cars will be placed exactly where they parked that morning as will the police cruisers of the first responders. The plan is to receate the scene in the coming week.

Police have found numerous bullets outside the school that hit at least three cars, including the one owned by Lauren Rousseau, who was killed by Lanza in her classroom along with 14 of her students and a special-education aide. The three cars that were hit, belonging to Sandy Hook staffers, were near where at least one of the first group of officers parked before running into the school, sources said.

First responders said they could hear gunshots when they arrived, meaning Lanza was still firing. It was only after they entered the building that the shooting stopped and police discovered that Lanza, 20, had killed himself with a pistol, but not before killing 26 others in the school, including 20 first-graders, with a Bushmaster .223 rifle.

Sources said the bullets that hit cars outside probably were fired from teacher Victoria Soto's room. That was the second room Lanza entered as he firing at teachers and students. Soto and her aide, Mary Ann Murphy, were killed there, as were six students. Six other children escaped because, police believe, Lanza stopped firing briefly either because his gun jammed or he had trouble reloading his gun. Seven other students survived because Soto hid them in a closet.

Investigators are trying to determine if the bullets fired into the parking lot were strays as Lanza fired in Soto's classroom or if he saw officers arriving and fired through the window at them. Investigators have done trajectory work in the classroom but now want to line up the police cars and see if it is possible some of the bullets were aimed at them.

No cruisers were hit and none of the officers interviewed so far has indicated that they were shot at. But several of the officers involved in the initial response have not been interviewed yet because they are still traumatized and they may not have realized they were being shot at as they ran towards the school.

It is unclear if those officers will be able to return to the parking lot to recreate the scene outside the building. Police have photographs from the day of the shooting to help them put the cars back in the right spots.

The partial re-creation will likely be one of the last things state police do at the school before wrapping up that part of the investigation. There are no plans to recreate what happened inside the school or to interview any of the students who survived, police say.

State police walled off the roughly 200 square-foot crime scene from the rest of the school. They have spent considerable time attempting to find all of the bullets that Lanza fired.

Lanza started his shooting spree by killing his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Yogananda Court home in Newtown. He shot her four times in the head with a .22 rifle that he left in the house.

Lanza also left a shotgun capable of firing up to 20 rounds in the trunk of the Honda that he drove to the elementary school. Police believe that Lanza, who barely weighed 110 pounds, couldn't carry the shotgun into the school because of all the other guns and ammunition he had.