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Police say civilians trampled evidence after Sandy Hook elementary school shooting

Dave Altimari and David Owens, The Hartford Courant on

Published in News & Features

HARTFORD, Conn. -- So many people, including civilians, had access to the inside of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in the hours following the 2012 shooting where 26 students and adults were killed that some were stepping on bullet casings and contaminating the crime scene, a Connecticut state police after action report released Friday concluded.

The 74-page document reviewed everything from troopers not properly wearing their bulletproof vests to how the victims' families were notified their child had died. It was released Friday more than five years after the massacre in which Adam Lanza killed 20 first-graders and six adults before killing himself.

One of the most critical parts was the handling of the crime scene -- the two classrooms where the 20 children and four teachers were killed and the hallway where Principal Dawn Hochsprung and School Psychologist Mary Sherlach were killed.

"Other individuals from uninvolved CSP command staff to members of outside agencies to dignitaries were allowed into the school at one time or another over the next several days, disrupting the processing of the scene by detectives, potentially risking scene integrity and unnecessarily exposing personnel to the disturbing scene," the report said.

The other issue with the crime scene area was establishing the command post in Hochsprung's office. That meant many people, including civilians were walking through the glass door area that Lanza shot through to enter the school.

"Relevant evidence was stepped on, including bullet casings and glass shards, which had yet to be processed," the report stated.

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The "after-action report" usually critiques a police agency's response to a mass casualty situation and is used by other law enforcement agencies as a learning tool.

State police officials presented the report to the victims' families in a private meeting Friday morning at Troop A in Southbury and to department administrators at their headquarters in Middletown before releasing it to the public Friday afternoon.

The report highlighted several other issues as well as things that police did well, including establishing a family liaison program where individual troopers were assigned to each victims' family to assist them.

Some of the other issues included:


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