Reports that Sandy Hook school shooter Adam Lanza aspired to one-up Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik are “mere speculation” given the ongoing nature of the investigation, said Connecticut State Police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance.
On Monday night, CBS News attributed to “law enforcement sources” a theory that Lanza saw himself as being in competition with Anders Behring Breivik, the man who killed 77 people in Norway two years ago, many of them teenagers at a summer camp. The story said Lanza wanted to kill even more people and went to the school because it was an easy target.
But Vance said investigators “are a long way” from determining what motivated Lanza. “Determining a motive is a huge undertaking,” he said, “especially given that Lanza is dead.”
Another law enforcement official told NBC News that Lanza had collected material on previous mass shootings. “But there was nothing that outlined his plans or said that he was trying to outdo a previous shooting,” the official said.
CBS News has appended an editor’s note to the online version of its story saying that after the piece ran Vance “told CBS News that the investigation into the motive for the Newtown shooting has not been completed and therefore any statements about the shooter’s intent are mere speculation.”
The FBI lab is trying to extract data from Lanza’s damaged hard drive, which could shed light on possible motives, but so far that effort has produced nothing of value, an official told NBC News.
The Hartford Courant, which partnered with PBS FRONTLINE on an in-depth investigation into the lives of Adam and Nancy Lanza, published an article on Monday citing unnamed law enforcement sources who also described Lanza’s possible interest in Brevik as little more than a theory at this point.
“The sources emphasized that an interest in Breivik is just one theory,” the paper reported. “Sources said Connecticut law enforcement officials traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to brief unidentified federal authorities on the status of the investigation and discussed the possible Breivik connection.”
Breivik carried out a series of deadly attacks in Norway in July of 2011, setting off a car bomb in the city of Oslo, then attacked a youth summer camp on the island of Utoya. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison, the maximum sentenced allowed under Norwegian law, but it is expected that he will spend the rest of his life in jail.
The Breivik theory is one part of the ongoing investigation to find out what drove the reclusive 20-year-old Lanza to kill 27 people in December, Hartford Courant reporter Josh Kovner told NBC’s TODAY.
“They’re trying to get information, did he have a secret life, did he have a secret identity, what was he angling toward,” Kovner said. “And then if you find articles about the worst mass murderer in history in the guy’s game room, you’re going to start to wonder.”
The paper also sought to learn more about the young man’s mother, who was his first victim on December 14 and whose guns were used in the killings.
“We had heard so much about her being this paranoid Doomsday prepper who was stockpiling food, waiting for this economic collapse, and we learned through our reporting that she had done a number of things to get Adam in the right place,” Alaine Griffin, another reporter for the Hartford Courant, said on TODAY. “There were all these different educational shifts in and out of school. So we learned that she actually was trying to do the right thing by Adam.”
Connecticut state police hope to have their report on the shooting completed by early June, Vance told NBC News.