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

Licorice Schtick

The rate of property crimes in the U.S. is basically the same as in Northern Europe, but the murder rate is four or five times worse, and the most obvious difference is the number and type of guns.

And that, folks, is the price of the Second Amendment interpretation that's the law of the land.

But who suffers for that? Violent crime is about 100 times worse (not exagerating) in D.C. than it is in neighboring Fairfax County.

So whether YOU pay the price depends a lot on where you live.

Factitious

Our government has been corrupted by a Supreme Court that's packed with shills for and dupes of greedy rich people.

At the root of all the corruption is the notion that "money is speech," thereby justifying perfectly-legal payoffs to elected officials, disguised as "campaign contributions." Good-bye, Democracy. Hello, government of The People, by the Money, for the Money.

Now, since the Citizen United decision, corporations are people, too. So if you own a corporation, you get extra rights. Twisted.

The ambiguously-written second amendment could easily be interpreted to prohibit limitations on the arming of legitimate militias, and leave the regulation of non-military weapons to the discretion of Congress and the states.

Instread, greed rules, allowing the gun industry to cash in on unlimited sales to, umm... (I'm try to stay away from "gun nuts" but it's no working.)

And yet, many of the serious modern weapons that a true militia would actually need to wage war are NOT permitted in the hands of ordinary citizens, because that would make them a threat to the unfettered oppression of ordinary people by greedy rich people.

Coporate America has subverted democracy and, by utilizing their media outlets, have brainwashed the people into thinking their government is the enemy, but if that's true it's only because Corporate America has taken it over. Do you think you're immune to their brainwashing? No one is.

The bill of rights was intended to protect people from oppression, but instead it's been co-opted by the wealthy and powerful to oppress The People.

The government was meant to be YOUR government, of The People, buy The People, for The People. Take it back.

mikeylikesit

the murder rate in this country is higher because everybody knows the liberals will defend the criminal to no end. not much chance of facing punishment.

JMOP

I usually agree with most of your post 2cents, this one I can't completely agree with.
I do agree on it being a moral issue in today's society, but to to the context of which video games are involved. I played video games all my life. I grew up in the 80's and 90's. Back then people blamed music and MTV for societies bad behavior. As a kid I never did. I blamed my mom and dad for knowing where I was going to be, what i was doing, and having to answer to them if I ever did get in trouble.
Parents seem to be the ones letting go of the morals of the world. They are the self absorbed or just to busy to have too much concern about who their kids are hanging out with or what their kids are doing.

2cents

Link not suported

eriemom

Somehow I think that this kind of event is related to the individuals need to be noticed. To gain notoriety, even if in the most negative way.Think about reality TV shows, serial killer collector cards, books written about serial killer and mass murder events. 24/7 news is feeding these individuals with personality disorders and sociopaths. I see it on this comment community. The belief that individuals have the right to their opinions, even if it does not benefit society as a whole. Somehow we have earned the right to be important by being caustic, antisocial, and down right rude.

totallyamazed

.
.
Personally, I get tired of seeing pictures of these killers when they were like 12 years old, as if they were innocent little fawns who accidentally found their daddy's 50 cal automatic, had a bad day at the ice cream parlor and decided to blow off some steam. Show the creep as the worthless piece of sh!t he was.
.
.

Seen it All

I couldn't understand why there were not more survivors, then I heard the medical examiner say that each victim had between 3-11 gunshot wounds. My daughter had heard early on that they were lined up and shot, which would explain lack of survivors. But when the story broke this am that there was a lone survivor in one of the two classrooms, who played dead and wasn't shot shows that report was false as well. It is a shame that some are so quick to get a story out that they don't even wait for the facts before doing so. Just makes them look foolish in the long run!

candleburner

Every time I hear about something like this I wonder how much of an impact the shows on TV and the games we allow children to play effect children. I recently babysat for two young boys ages 8 and 9 and they were almost obsessed with these cartoons that were so violent - or at least in my opinion they were. Ninja cartoons, pokemon type things, power rangers of every kind, power ball-z and you name it but what amazed me the most was as soon as the boys started to get the slightest bit angry with each other they would break into these fighting stances like they had seen in these cartoons. Now I know that if you really look at the cartoons that were out when we (and I'm talking about cartoons from the 70's and 80s) were kids they may have had some violent undertones - anvils falling from the sky onto Wylie Coyote's head or Elmer Fudd constantly trying to shoot Bugs Bunny but those weren't (and again this is just my opinion) "real people". I think kids now days are seeing cartoons - well especially like power rangers because they're not cartoons - and thinking"wow those are real people just like me, maybe I can do that too!" and they see all this violence and just start acting out on it. And it's just as bad in the video games. I don't care how many rating labels are on them, the kids still get them and play them. My younger nephews still have mature rating video games and have had them for quite a while. They didn't get them from me and they WON'T get things like that from me!! But all that crap gets into kids heads and effects their thinking. I don't know that they can blame Asperberger's for what was going on with this boy. From what I know of the disease it's not a violent disease. It was just plain evil. More details will come out eventually but I think as a nation we need to start really looking at things and start making some real changes or there's going to be a lot more things like this happening.

2cents

(Candle) I posted this earlier, note the published date!

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

Gardenman

I think its time to control firearms. I am glad to see the Democrats has introduced bills in both Houses of Congress for this to happen. I am sure organizations like the NRA will fight it tooth and nail but I am guessing there is enough momentum this time to pass this kind of legislation. This most recent event should be the last straw.

We can't always identify the idiots who will do this kind of harm to humans but we can control their ability to get their hands on firearms. Its unfortunate that human society has come to this and for whatever reason it happens we must remove the firearm from their reach. I am sure easier said than done but we have to start somewhere and this is the time and the place to begin.

luvblues2

Good luck with that. I'm gonna smoke go smoke a bowl of something else you probably like seeing illegal.

2cents

(we have to start somewhere)

Hollywood would be a quick place start. Just pull the plug, and stop airing all the shoot-em-up movies and stop the sale and confiscate all interactive shoot-em-up video games. That can be done overnight.
Oops! But that would hurt the bottom line of all the democrats who produced, filmed as well as the actors that stared in them.

I do not understand, the people of Hollywood are mostly democrats and yet they produce all the violent media that is available for their own gain. Sex and violence sell as well as teach our youth how to kill like this little monster showed us.

If anyone wants to eliminate firearms then they better eliminate all the action movies, games as well as make rap music illegal that glorifies firearms and the killing and murder they promote in everyone’s heads! The fresh start must go across the board in every manor my friend!!

The Big Dog's back

So all of Hollywood are Dems?
http://www.ranker.com/list/repub...

reese

It is the time and the place. The tide is about to turn. Remarkably, the NRA isn't saying anything (yet).

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

democrats for gun ownership

http://democratsforgunownership....

Pages