Sandy Hook report mentions games, but finds no motive for massacre

Report detailing investigation reveals mentally unstable shooter played all types of games ranging from Metal Gear Solid to Super Mario Brothers.


[UPDATE] The report also mentions a video game called "School Shooting."

A past report pegged the Sandy Hook shooter as a "deranged gamer," but did his interest in games play any part in the massacre? An official report released today by Connecticut state attorney Stephen Sedensky concluded that it may have, but there is no conclusive evidence to prove it.

Image credit: Don Emmert for Getty
Image credit: Don Emmert for Getty

"Many people have asked why the shooter did what he did on December 14, 2012. Or, in the vernacular of the criminal justice system, 'Did he have a motive for what he did?'" Sedensky said. "This investigation, with the substantial information available, does not establish a conclusive motive."

While the investigation was unable to confirm or even substantially suggest a motive for why the shooter violently killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, the report does go into detail regarding the mental health issues he suffered from.

"What we do know is that the shooter had significant mental health issues that, while not affecting the criminality of the shooter's mental state for the crimes or his criminal responsibility for them, did affect his ability to live a normal life and to interact with others, even those to whom he should have been close," Sedensky said. "Whether this contributed in any way is unknown. The shooter did not recognize or help himself deal with those issues. He had a familiarity with and access to firearms and ammunition and an obsession with mass murders, in particular the Columbine shootings.

Numerous games were found in the shooter's gaming area in the basement of his residence in Newtown, Conn. These include, but are not limited to, Left 4 Dead, Half-Life, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Doom, Call of Duty, and Battlefield.

The shooter's second-floor bedroom windows were taped over with black trash bags, as were the windows in his computer room. In this room, investigators found a computer hard drive that appeared to be intentionally damaged. Forensic experts have been unable to recover any of the information from this hard drive.

In addition, the shooter enjoyed music game Dance Dance Revolution and various videos of him playing the game were found on his computer. The report also calls out role-playing game Phantasy Star Online as one of his favorites, along with Nintendo games like Paper Mario, Luigi's Mansion, and Pikmin.

"He played video games often, both solo at home and online. They could be described as both violent and non-violent," the report states. "One person described the shooter as spending the majority of his time playing non-violent video games all day, with his favorite at one point being Super Mario Brothers.”

The report also reveals that the shooter regularly spent time with his father until he turned 18. They played video games together, went hiking, and on two occasions, went to a firing range. His relationship with his father deteriorated at the end of 2010, the report says, though no specifics were provided.

The Sandy Hook report also sheds light on some of the shooter's potentially irregular behavior leading up to the shooting itself.

"The shooter was particular about the food that he ate and its arrangement on a plate in relation to other foods on the plate," the report says. "Certain types of dishware could not be used for particular foods. The mother would shop for him and cook to the shooter’s specifications, though sometimes he would cook for himself."

No one was allowed in the shooter's room, the report says, not even to clean. He also disliked birthdays, Christmas, and holidays--he would not allow his mother to put up a Christmas tree.

"The mother explained it by saying that shooter had no emotions or feelings," the report says. "The mother also got rid of a cat because the shooter did not want it in the house."

Prior to heading to Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, the shooter used a .22 caliber Savage Mark II rifle to shoot and kill his mother while she was in her bed at their home in Newtown, Conn.

The investigation is officially closed now that this report has been issued, though if reliable information related to the case is introduced, it may be reopened. However, Sedensky said this is unlikely to happen.

The Sandy Hook shooting case may be closed, so to speak, but efforts in Washington are continuing. In January, President Obama directed the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to conduct further studies on the relationship between virtual violence and real-world violence. Law-makers have also introduced various bills in Congress following the Sandy Hook shooting, though none have been signed into law just yet.

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