Gunman broke in, shot kids multiple times

Details emerge on killer's entrance to school
Associated Press
Dec 16, 2012

 

JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN,Associated Press
MATT APUZZO,Associated Press

 

The gunman behind the Connecticut elementary school massacre stormed into the building and shot 20 children at least twice with a high-powered rifle, executing some at close range and killing adults who tried to stop the carnage, authorities said Saturday.

He forced his way into the school by breaking a window, officials said. Asked whether the children suffered, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver paused. "If so," he said, "not for very long."

The terrible details about the last moments of young innocents emerged as authorities released their names and ages — the youngest 6 and 7, the oldest 56. They included Ana Marquez-Greene, a little girl who had just moved to Newtown from Canada; Victoria Soto, a 27-year-old teacher who apparently died while trying to hide her pupils; and principal Dawn Hochsprung, who authorities said lunged at the gunman in an attempt to overtake him and paid with her life.

The tragedy has plunged Newtown into mourning and added the picturesque New England community of handsome Colonial homes, red-brick sidewalks and 27,000 people to the grim map of towns where mass shootings in recent years have periodically reignited the national debate over gun control but led to little change.

Faced with the unimaginable, townspeople sadly took down some of their Christmas decorations and struggled Saturday with how to go on. Signs around town read, "Hug a teacher today," ''Please pray for Newtown" and "Love will get us through."

"People in my neighborhood are feeling guilty about it being Christmas. They are taking down decorations," said Jeannie Pasacreta, a psychologist who was advising parents struggling with how to talk to their children.

School board chairwoman Debbie Leidlein spent Friday night meeting with parents who lost children and shivered as she recalled those conversations. "They were asking why. They can't wrap their minds around it. Why? What's going on?" she said. "And we just don't have any answers for them."

The tragedy brought forth soul-searching and grief around the globe. President Barack Obama planned to visit Newtown on Sunday. Families as far away as Puerto Rico planned funerals for victims who still had their baby teeth, world leaders extended condolences, and vigils were held around the U.S.

"Next week is going to be horrible," said the town's legislative council chairman, Jeff Capeci, thinking about the string of funerals the town will face. "Horrible, and the week leading into Christmas."

Police shed no light on what triggered Adam Lanza, 20, to carry out the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, though state police Lt. Paul Vance said investigators had found "very good evidence ... that our investigators will be able to use in painting the complete picture, the how and, more importantly, the why." He would not elaborate.

However, another law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said investigators have found no note or manifesto from Lanza of the sort they have come to expect after murderous rampages such as the Virginia Tech bloodbath in 2007 that left 33 people dead.

Lanza shot to death his mother, Nancy Lanza, at the home they shared, then drove to the school in her car with at least three of her guns, forced his way in and opened fire, authorities said. Within minutes, he killed 20 children, six adults and himself.

Education officials said they had found no link between Lanza's mother and the school, contrary to news reports that said she was a teacher there. Investigators said they believe Adam Lanza attended Sandy Hook Elementary many years ago, but they had no explanation for why he went there Friday.

Authorities said Adam Lanza had no criminal history, and it was not clear whether he had a job. Lanza was believed to have suffered from a personality disorder, said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another law enforcement official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger's, a mild form of autism often characterized by social awkwardness. People with the disorder are often highly intelligent. While they can become frustrated more easily, there is no evidence of a link between Asperger's and violent behavior, experts say.

The law enforcement officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the unfolding investigation.

Richard Novia, the school district's head of security until 2008, who also served as adviser for the school technology club, of which Lanza was a member, said he clearly "had some disabilities."

"If that boy would've burned himself, he would not have known it or felt it physically," Novia said in a phone interview. "It was my job to pay close attention to that."

Amid the confusion and sorrow, stories of heroism emerged, including an account of Hochsprung, 47, and the school psychologist, Mary Sherlach, 56, rushing toward Lanza in an attempt to stop him. Both died.

There was also 27-year-old teacher Victoria Soto, whose name has been invoked as a portrait of selflessness and humanity among unfathomable evil. Investigators told relatives she was killed while shielding her first-graders from danger. She reportedly hid some students in a bathroom or closet, ensuring they were safe, a cousin, Jim Wiltsie, told ABC News.

"She put those children first. That's all she ever talked about," a friend, Andrea Crowell, told The Associated Press. "She wanted to do her best for them, to teach them something new every day."

There was also 6-year-old Emilie Parker, whose grieving father, Robbie, talked to reporters not long after police released the names of the victims but expressed no animosity, offering sympathy for Lanza's family.

"I can't imagine how hard this experience must be for you," he said.

On Saturday, Carver, the medical examiner, said that all the victims at the school were shot with a rifle, at least some of them up close, and that all were apparently shot more than once. All six adults killed at the school were women. Of the 20 children, eight were boys and 12 were girls.

Asked how many bullets were fired, Carver said, "I'm lucky if I can tell you how many I found."

Parents identified the children through photos to spare them some shock, Carver said.

Relatives of the shooter were at a loss for words.

"The whole family is traumatized by this event," said Donald Briggs Jr., police chief of Kingston, N.H., who knows the family. "We reach out to the community of Newtown and express our heartfelt sorrow for this incomprehensible and profound loss of innocence," the family said in a statement.

James Champion, Nancy Lanza's brother and a retired police captain in Kingston, N.H., said through the police chief that he had not seen his nephew in eight years. Champion, who still works as a part-time officer, said he would not discuss what might have triggered the rampage since the case is under investigation.

Acquaintances describe the former honor student as smart but odd and remote.

Olivia DeVivo, now a student at the University of Connecticut, recalled that Lanza always came to school toting a briefcase and wearing his shirt buttoned all the way up. "He was very different and very shy and didn't make an effort to interact with anybody" in his 10th-grade English class, she said.

Lanza would also go through crises that would require his mother to come to school to deal with. Such episodes might involve "total withdrawal from whatever he was supposed to be doing, be it a class, be it sitting and read a book," said Novia, the tech club adviser.

When people approached Lanza in the hallways, he would press himself against the wall or walk in a different direction, clutching his black case "like an 8-year-old who refuses to give up his teddy bear," said Novia, who now lives in Tennessee.

Even so, Novia said his main concern about Lanza was that he might become a target for teasing or abuse by other students, not that he might become a threat.

"Somewhere along in the last four years there were significant changes that led to what has happened Friday morning," Novia said. "I could never have foreseen him doing that."

Nancy Lanza, who was once a stockbroker for John Hancock in Boston and once lived in Kingston, N.H., was a kind, considerate and loving person, Briggs said.

"She was very involved in the community and very well-respected," Briggs said.

Lanza's family was struggling to make sense of what happened and "trying to find whatever answers we can," his father, Peter Lanza, said in a statement late Saturday that also expressed sympathy for the victims' families.

Sandy Hook Elementary will be closed next week — some parents can't even conceive of sending their children back, Leidlein said — and officials are deciding what to do about the town's other schools.

Asked whether the town would recover, Maryann Jacob, a clerk in the school library who took cover in a storage room with 18 fourth-graders during the shooting rampage, said: "We have to. We have a lot of children left."

___

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Jim Fitzgerald, Bridget Murphy, Pat Eaton-Robb and Michael Melia in Newtown; Adam Geller in Southbury, Conn.; and Stephen Singer in Hartford, Conn.

 

Comments

luvblues2

Screw all this speculation BS. I'm tired of hearing "off the record", "anonymous" accounts that say something different every few hours. This stuff takes time. This is just a way for media whores to have something to do.

mikeylikesit

im sick of it too. im not sure anybody even knows how many were killed. other reports said the criminal had a rifle, but left it in the car.now they say he used a rifle. when it comes to being first to report a story, forget about accuracy or truth, just hurry up and report. but hey, since we're throwing accuracy and honesty out the window might as well spin it to fit the agenda of all mainstream media and put some blame on those evil assault rifles..

2cents

Like I said before, it is a lack of morals and a culture of destruction our youth are finding fun in! Look at this book released in 1999.

http://www.randomhouse.com/book/...

Authors Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and Gloria DeGaetano offer incontrovertible evidence, much of it based on recent major scientific studies and empirical research, that movies, TV, and video games are not just conditioning children to be violent--and unaware of the consequences of that violence--but are teaching the very mechanics of killing. Their book is a much-needed call to action for every parent, teacher, and citizen to help our children and stop the wave of killing and violence gripping America's youth. And, most important, it is a blueprint for us all on how that can be achieved.

In Paducah, Kentucky, Michael Carneal, a fourteen-year-old boy who stole a gun from a neighbor's house, brought it to school and fired eight shots at a student prayer group as they were breaking up. Prior to this event, he had never shot a real gun before. Of the eight shots he fired, he had eight hits on eight different kids. Five were head shots, the other three upper torso. The result was three dead, one paralyzed for life. The FBI says that the average, experienced, qualified law enforcement officer, in the average shootout, at an average range of seven yards, hits with less than one bullet in five. How does a child acquire such killing ability? What would lead him to go out and commit such a horrific act?

Blowfish

Morals as in Sharia Law? How much freedom are you willing to give up to feel safe?

mikeylikesit

i agree

Licorice Schtick

You can't agree with a question. Or two, either. What do you really mean?

mikeylikesit

oh, but i can. it's a little over your head..

Licorice Schtick

Well, I do admit that your scatologocal analysis (below) is a bit deep.

mikeylikesit

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

mikeylikesit

i call b.s. we played violent games as children too, the graphics were not as good but it was the same idea. we even played cops and robbers and we all played the bad guy sometimes. cowboys and indians,watched violent movies and we had access to real guns in our homes too. even as children we knew the difference between toy guns and real guns. we all grew up just fine knowing the difference between right and wrong and knowing if we commit a crime we will be held accountable. it's all about each person taking personal responsibility for their actions. that concept seems to be lost in our country now. as soon as somebody commits a crime you got these morons trying to explain why it's not the criminals fault and trying to protect the rights of the criminal. i cant be the only one who sees how screwed up that is. i learned to shoot with a real gun and i have never even threatened anybody with a gun or commited violent crime.

deertracker

Agreed!

Licorice Schtick

It was different then. John Wayne shot the gun out of the bad guy's hand, only bad guy died (mostly) and crime did not pay. There was a "television code" until the Supreme Court decided that teaching kids how to kill was "free speech."

Yes, some households had guns, but there were fewer of them and they weren't AR-15's and Uzis.

Surmising that mental illness played a role it this tragedy, it's inescapable that the perpetrator's violence-soaked upbringing can only tend to make outcomes in such cases worse, and it's likewise inescapable that more and deadlier weapons can only tend to make outcomes worse.

mikeylikesit

people need to take responsability for their actions but you will never understand that.

Licorice Schtick

A completely un-original though, framed as a personal attack. Nice!

So? All we need to do is hold violent schizophrenics accountable for their actions and all our troubles are over? DOH! Why didn't we think of that before?

mikeylikesit

personal attack or simple truth that's hard to swallaw?

mikeylikesit

oh, my bad, you're right. blame innocent people who were not connected in any way with this crime. pass laws limiting innocent peoples freedom because some lunatic is off their meds. that will work.

Licorice Schtick

And what if this shooter was undiagnosed, and had no meds to be off of?

Simple minds like simple solutions, but sometime there isn't one.

mikeylikesit

up yours..

2cents

mor•al (môrl, mr-)
adj.
1. Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character: moral scrutiny; a moral quandary.
2. Teaching or exhibiting goodness or correctness of character and behavior: a moral lesson.
3. Conforming to standards of what is right or just in behavior; virtuous: a moral life.
4. Arising from conscience or the sense of right and wrong: a moral obligation.
5. Having psychological rather than physical or tangible effects: a moral victory; moral support.
6. Based on strong likelihood or firm conviction, rather than on the actual evidence: a moral certainty.
n.
1. The lesson or principle contained in or taught by a fable, a story, or an event.
2. A concisely expressed precept or general truth; a maxim.
3. morals Rules or habits of conduct, especially of sexual conduct, with reference to standards of right and wrong: a person of loose morals; a decline in the public morals.

2cents

Come on you guys!
Morals are not laws; "Sharia law". I too played war every Saturday morning in youth, I posted that the other day, I even stood off my dad in the hall outside my bedroom with a 50 CAL (Defender Dan)
http://i.ebayimg.com/t/Deluxe-Re...$T2eC16VHJIQE9qUHtHWHBQNYtO64Bw~~60_35.JPG
toy machine gun when I was bad one day. Things are different today, kids are being programed that killing is ok, their consensus are being rewritten like new computer code. These video games and other outside influences are programing children, it is like a new cult of learning and nobody can say otherwise. It is what it is and the progressives can only say take away guns now. Well they said take away playground equipment and dodge ball because the kids can get hurt so it drove them inside to play with software instead and the kids got fat and learned little from everyday life, lazy and programed. Government puts their nose into everyday living and they tend to not look forward enough. The removal of the pledge of elegance, removal of religion that is one of the biggest moral teaching programs is gone from our schools and a lot of homes.

Yes I believe in all of my freedoms and more, but a society with low or no morals will destroy itself in time. And no, I do not want my firearms registered or taken, and yes I keep my firearms locked in an vault that only I have the code to. I like my H&K M4 but I also keep it locked up when I do not have it at the range!

Just saying!

The Big Dog's back

Do you think our country's need to be in a war all the time has anything to do with it? Military clothing, military weapons. Think about what a 20 year old grew up on, let alone having a mother who was a gun nut.

2cents

(BD)
I grew up during Vietnam; WW2 movies were all over the TV, black and white TV. People were digging bomb shelters wondering if they would become dust or not and we trained to jump under tables at school. War has been and is still all around us since man threw stones at each other.

I have liked to shoot or should I say hit a target, since grade school we threw rocks at tree limbs, then we had BB guns and as an adult a rifle to go plinking with and shoot at a range or turkey shoot. We can blame anything or nothing for these situations, but blaming will not change mankind. The tools of destruction are always in reach and it is up to the human race to learn the difference between right and wrong. Some people have followed a sadistic path; we do not always know who they are or who will become that way. We teach tolerance for some things and yet are ignorant about others.

Licorice Schtick

True, but you raise a good point - the Baby Boomers were the first generation raised with TV, and crime shot up as they reached adulthood. Some of that can be attributed to their shear numbers, because most crime is committed by young adult males, but not all of it -- so do we blame TV, or the "Greatest Generation" that raised them?

In a similar manner, BTW, crime dropped about 20 years after Roe v. Wade, and there's no better explanation than fewer unwanted babies.

jack langhals

Hey Dog,A gun nut.?Gun's in the hand's of responsible people have let you live here the way you are.Now you want to blame someone, blame the real people,like The Osama Adm. and the Democratic Senate that let The School Security Fund lapse,so they could fund Bozo care and pay for welfare,Illegals and Bozo phone's.

The Big Dog's back

The guns that killed all those kids were in the hands of a so called responsible person, Nancy Lanza.

jack langhals

Well the people that let The School Security monies lapse were supposed to be responsible for all us.That isn't working out very well !

dontcare

Jack, the school had a state of the art security system. Some mentally deranged individual had access to a responsible gun owners weapons. Unfortunately the first sign of violence often ends in tragedy. Statistically gun owners have their weapons used against them much more often than use the weapon to protect themselves or someone else.

We need to remember the constitution was written 250 years ago immediately following war with he British. The constitution is a living breathing document and periodically needs to be changed. We no longer consider African Americans 3/5th human, women now have the right the vote and prohibition has come and gone. We need to reconsider our stance on military weapons in the hands of ordinary citizens.

mikeylikesit

dont take what i say personally. i think that you, like everybody else, are trying to understand these sensless acts of voilence. i beleive your intentions are honorable but to me it still sounds like placing the blame somewhere, ANYWHERE except where it belongs. i agree there is moral decline and it is causing problems. im old enough to have witnessed this happen over the last three decades or so. still, i firmly beleive that when one of these moral-less degenerates commits a crime they should be held accountable for their actions. i watch the same movies and play the same games and it hasn't programmed me or influenced me in any way to break the law. these punks break the law because they know our society will blame anything and everything but them when they are caught. it's way past time to blame the criminal and hold them accountable for their crimes by handing down real punishment..

2cents

Please read my post under the stabbing last night, Trey.

Licorice Schtick

Here's a link that works, to replace the broken one in the comment above that this one responds to:

http://tinyurl.com/czp34u7

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