By DAVE ALTIMARI, email@example.com
The Hartford Courant
8:46 PM EDT, July 27, 2013
While law enforcement officials have released few details of the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre to Connecticut residents, state police and Newtown officers have increased their trips across the country, in some cases sharing graphic details of what they saw inside the school.
In March, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other politicians criticized state police for releasing details of the investigation at out-of-state conferences. A police report has been delayed for months, and state law enforcement officials have attempted to push through legislation intended to keep secret some details of the shootings that killed 20 first-graders and six adults.
Since then, state and Newtown police have spoken at or are scheduled to speak at forums from Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. to Maine:
•The head of the crime squad leading the investigation, along with an FBI profiler, will speak in California in August.
•State police will speak about Newtown at child advocacy conference in Dallas in August.
•State police, including Lt. Paul Vance, the department spokesman, will discuss Newtown in Billings, Mont., in October.
•Since April, Newtown officers have spoken at conferences in Maine, Michigan and Nashville, Tenn., among others.
•Two weeks ago, a Newtown officer described entering Sandy Hook school and encountering a horrific scene when he spoke at a conference in Orlando, Fla., according to a Florida newspaper report of the conference and another article online.
In March, Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky, who will issue the final investigative report on the shooting, ordered police to stop discussing details of the investigation at conferences. The ban was instituted after the New York Daily News reported that state police Col. Danny Stebbins told New Orleans conference attendees that shooter Adam Lanza had created a spreadsheet of mass killings going back 30 years.
"To prevent such disclosure in the future, I have instructed that any and all such presentations involving evidence in the criminal investigation be ceased while the investigation is pending and my report is still outstanding," Sedensky said at the time.
Sedensky said this week that state police have showed him their conference presentations in advance and that he has no issue with them speaking across the country.
"They are not talking about the investigation," he said. "They will be talking about logistics and victim control, which is different than talking about details of the investigation.''
Malloy issued a written statement Friday that also indicated state police are not sharing details of the investigation.
"All they are doing is sharing some of the procedural lessons that were learned that terrible day," Malloy's statement said. "Everyone is well aware that, in some ways, the world is waiting for the completion of this investigation. We believe that getting it done must be a priority for everyone involved."
Vance said state police officials discuss procedures, techniques and lessons learned from the Newtown shootings.
"There is absolutely no way that any of the state police investigators would violate the trust of the victim's families or the orders of the state's attorney," Vance said.
Authorities first said the investigative report into the shootings could be completed by the end of June. Last month, state police said it might not be ready until September. Sources familiar with the investigation said this week that it probably will be later than that before the report is released.
Before then, Lt. David Delvecchia and Lt. William Baldwin will speak at the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals' annual conference at Disneyland in Anaheim. They will be joined by FBI profiler Andre Simon, who sources said has been working with state police to build a profile of Adam Lanza.
Their appearance is being hyped as one of the key events of the three-day conference. Their topic is "Active Shooters: Lessons from Sandy Hook and Beyond." The synopsis promises that they will offer a "review of the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School to help law enforcement and schools prepare for catastrophic acts of violence."
Delvecchia is the commanding officer of Connecticut's Western District Crime Squad, which is preparing the report on the school shooting investigation. Baldwin is the head of the Central District Crime Squad, which processed Lanza's car and the outside of the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Delvecchia also is a keynote speaker that same week for a conference in Dallas sponsored by the Dallas Children's Advocacy Center. He will be joined by Sgt. Joshua Pattberg, who has spoken at other conferences across the country.
Their topic will be "Lessons Learned from the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting." On the advocacy center's web page, the group's CEO writes: "We will again take you behind the scenes of many notable cases, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which details what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, on the day 20 children and six adults were murdered by Adam Lanza."
Vance said that the investigation is proceeding and that traveling to conferences is not interfering.
Sedensky also said he isn't worried that the conference will slow down the effort to finish the report.
"This is not the only case [the state police officials] are involved in. The state police are trying to free them up to finish the Newtown investigation because everyone recognizes its importance,'' Sedensky said. "[Attending conferences] is not impacting their investigation."
There will be a second presentation at the Dallas conference by Newtown police officer David Kullgren, who will talk about "responding to the active shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School."
Kullgren is not the only Newtown officer to talk at a conference about the department's response on Dec. 14. Officers have gone to Maine, Tennessee, Michigan and Florida.
In Orlando two weeks ago, about 800 law enforcement officers who attended a conference heard the first 10 minutes of the police dispatch tape from the morning of the school shooting played by officers Leonard Penna and Jason Flynn, according to accounts reported by the Daytona News Journal and Huffington Post. Sedensky has denied The Courant's request to release the dispatch tape and 911 calls, saying they are part of the ongoing investigation.
After playing the dispatch tape, Penna then graphically described for the audience what he saw that day, according to the Daytona News Journal and Huffington Post.
Penna told the group when he pulled into the parking lot he saw a black car with the passenger's door wide open and two black jackets laid on the ground. Penna said that he assumed it was the shooter's car and that since there were two jackets, there probably were two shooters.
When Penna and other officers entered the school through the boiler room, they were hit with "a powerful odor of gunpowder," the report said.
"At that point, I saw two lifeless bodies and the biggest pool of blood I've ever seen in my life," according to the reports.
According to the Daytona News Journal report, Penna said he saw another group of officers enter a classroom on the left and he continued to the next room.
"I was never prepared to see what I saw — the first thing I saw was an alive first-grade girl covered in blood and she just says 'I'm scared and I want to go home,'" Penna said.
He then entered into the first classroom and heard a shot. "My first thought was one of our guys shot him," he said. So he ran back, grabbed the girl, and took her out — before learning that the shooter had shot himself.
Penna, Flynn and a third officer, Lt. Richard Robinson, then held a question-and-answer session with the conference-goers, the News-Journal reported.
Sedensky said the Newtown officers are witnesses, not part of the investigative team, so they did not have to clear their comments with him first. Sedensky said the dispatch tape was information readily available on the Internet and did not compromise the investigation.
Copyright © 2015, The Hartford Courant