NEW DETAILS: Man kills mother, then massacres 26 at US grade school, including 20 children

The Associated Press
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Published on December 14, 2012

A woman waits to hear about her sister, a teacher, following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Published on December 14, 2012

This aerial photo shows a triage area set up at the Sandy Hook fire station in Newtown, Conn., near where authorities say a gunman opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in a shooting that left 27 people dead, including 18 children, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.

Published on December 14, 2012

A woman waits to hear about her sister, a teacher, following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of New York City, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. A gunman entered the school Friday morning and killed at least 26 people, including 20 young children.

Published on December 14, 2012

A young girl cries following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of New York City, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. A gunman entered the school Friday morning and killed at least 26 people, including 20 young children.

Published on December 14, 2012

A mother hugs her daughter following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of New York City, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. An official with knowledge of Friday's shooting said 27 people were dead, including 18 children. It was the worst school shooting in the country's history.

Published on December 14, 2012

Parents leave a staging area after being reunited with their children following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of New York City, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. An official with knowledge of Friday's shooting said 27 people were dead, including 18 children. It was the worst school shooting in the country's history.

Published on December 14, 2012

Law enforcement canvass an area following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of New York City, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. An official with knowledge of Friday's shooting said 27 people were dead, including 18 children.

Published on December 14, 2012

Law enforcement canvass the area following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of New York City, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. An official with knowledge of Friday's shooting said 27 people were dead, including 18 children.

Published on December 14, 2012

President Barack Obama wipes his eye as he talks about the Connecticut elementary school shooting, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, in the White House briefing room in Washington.

Published on December 14, 2012

Officials are on the scene outside of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where authorities say a gunman opened fire inside an elementary school in a shooting that left 27 people dead, including 20 children, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.

Published on December 14, 2012

Officials are on the scene outside of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where authorities say a gunman opened fire inside an elementary school in a shooting that left 27 people dead, including 18 children, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.

Published on December 14, 2012

American flags surrounding the Washington Monument in Washington are lowered to half-staff in a mark of respect for the victims on the Connecticut elementary school shootings, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.

NEWTOWN, Conn. – A man killed his mother at home and then opened fire Friday inside the elementary school where she taught, massacring 26 people, including 20 children, as youngsters cowered in fear to the sound of gunshots reverberating through the building and screams echoing over the intercom.

The 20-year-old killer, carrying two handguns, committed suicide at the school, bringing the death toll to 28, authorities said.

The rampage, coming less than two weeks before Christmas, was the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 people dead in 2007.

``Our hearts are broken today,'' a tearful President Barack Obama, struggling to maintain his composure, said at the White House. He called for ``meaningful action'' to prevent such shootings. ``As a country, we have been through this too many times,'' he said.

Police shed no light on the motive for the attack on two classrooms. The gunman, identified as Adam Lanza, was believed to suffer from a personality disorder and lived with his mother, said a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation but was not authorized to discuss it.

Panicked parents looking for their children raced to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, a prosperous New England community of about 27,000 people 60 miles northeast of New York City. Police told youngsters at the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade school to close their eyes as they were led from the building.

Schoolchildren – some crying, others looking frightened – were escorted through a parking lot in a line, hands on each other's shoulders.

Law enforcement officials speaking on condition of anonymity said that Lanza killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, and then drove to the school in her car with three guns, including a high-powered rifle that he apparently left in the back. Authorities said he shot up two classrooms, but they otherwise gave no details on how the attack unfolded.

A custodian ran through the halls, warning of a gunman on the loose, and someone switched on the intercom, alerting people in the building to the attack – and perhaps saving many lives – by letting them hear the hysteria apparently going on in the school office, a teacher said.

Teachers locked their doors and ordered children to huddle in a corner or hide in closets as shots echoed through the building.

State police Lt. Paul Vance said 28 people in all were killed, including the gunman, and a woman who worked at the school was wounded.

Lanza's older brother, 24-year-old Ryan, of Hoboken, N.J., was being questioned, but a law enforcement official said he was not believed to have had any role in the rampage. Investigators were searching his computers and phone records, but he told law enforcement he had not been in touch with his brother since about 2010.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the unfolding investigation.

At one point, a law enforcement official mistakenly identified the gunman as Ryan Lanza. Brett Wilshe, a friend of Ryan Lanza's, said Lanza told him the gunman may have had his identification. Ryan Lanza has a Facebook page that posted updates Friday afternoon that read, ``It wasn't me'' and ``I was at work.''

Robert Licata said his 6-year-old son was in class when the gunman burst in and shot the teacher. ``That's when my son grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door,'' he said. ``He was very brave. He waited for his friends.''

He said the shooter didn't utter a word.

Stephen Delgiadice said his 8-year-old daughter was in the school and heard two big bangs. Teachers told her to get in a corner, he said.

``It's alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America,'' he said. His daughter was uninjured.

Theodore Varga said he was in a meeting with other fourth-grade teachers when he heard the gunfire, but there was no lock on the door.

He said someone had turned on the intercom so that ``you could hear people in the office. You could hear the hysteria that was going on. I think whoever did that saved a lot of people. Everyone in the school was listening to the terror that was transpiring.''

Also, a custodian ran around, warning people there was a gunman, Varga said.

``He said, 'Guys! Get down! Hide!''' Varga said. ``So he was actually a hero.'' The teacher said he did not know if the custodian survived.

Mergim Bajraliu, 17, heard the gunshots echo from his home and ran to check on his 9-year-old sister at the school. He said his sister, who was uninjured, heard a scream come over the intercom. He said teachers were shaking and crying as they came out of the building.

``Everyone was just traumatized,'' he said.

Mary Pendergast said her 9-year-old nephew was in the school at the time of the shooting but wasn't hurt after his music teacher helped him take cover in a closet.

Richard Wilford's 7-year-old son, Richie, told him that he heard a noise that sounded like ``cans falling.'' The boy said a teacher went out to check on the noise, came back in, locked the door and had the children huddle in the corner until police arrived.

``There's no words,'' Wilford said. ``It's sheer terror, a sense of imminent danger, to get to your child and be there to protect him.''

On Friday afternoon, family members were led away from a firehouse that was being used as a staging area, some of them weeping. One man, wearing a T-shirt without a jacket, put his arms around a woman as they walked down the middle of the street, oblivious to everything around them. Another woman with tears rolling down her face walked by, carrying a car seat with a baby inside.

``Evil visited this community today and it's too early to speak of recovery, but each parent, each sibling, each member of the family has to understand that Connecticut – we're all in this together. We'll do whatever we can to overcome this event,'' Gov. Dannel Malloy said.

Adam Lanza and his mother lived in a well-to-do part of Newtown where neighbours are doctors or hold white-collar positions at companies such as General Electric, Pepsi and IBM.

Three guns were found – a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols, inside the school, and a .223-calibre rifle in the back of a car.

The shootings instantly brought to mind such tragedies as the Columbine High School massacre that killed 15 in 1999 and the July shootings at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 dead.

``You go to a movie theatre in Aurora and all of a sudden your life is taken,'' Columbine Principal Frank DeAngelis said. ``You're at a shopping mall in Portland, Ore., and your life is taken. This morning, when parents kissed their kids goodbye knowing that they are going to be home to celebrate the holiday season coming up, you don't expect this to happen.''

He added: ``It has to stop, these senseless deaths.''

Obama's comments on the tragedy amounted to one of the most outwardly emotional moments of his presidency.

``The majority of those who died were children – beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old,'' Obama said.

He paused for several seconds to keep his composure as he teared up and wiped an eye. Nearby, two aides cried and held hands as they listened to Obama.

``They had their entire lives ahead of them – birthdays, graduations, wedding, kids of their own,'' Obama continued about the victims. ``Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children.''

 

 

 

Organizations: US school, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Danbury Hospital

Geographic location: NEWTOWN, Newtown, Connecticut, America New York City

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Recent comments

  • XComa
    December 15, 2012 - 08:48

    Why the Children?... It does not make sense.. We cannot get rid of all guns completely and that is the only way to ensure this won't happen again...We cannot treat all people with mental disorders to the point where they function as 'normal' everyday humans... This will happen again, and again and again...

  • Sylvia
    December 15, 2012 - 07:56

    My sincere condolences go to all family members of the victims. I don't understand this mindset of some Americans that think it's their constitutional right to bear arms, even to political meetings. They look like characters I've seen in TV movies about the old west. President Obama will try and bring in gun control legislation and these same people will fight it. I'm glad I don't live in the U.S.A.

  • CHRISTMAS BABES
    December 15, 2012 - 07:42

    Those Innocents are now in Heaven, they are not afraid, not suffering. They are in the Kingdom of God and wrapped in His Love. All of us who mourn their loss, know in our hearts these babes are innocent and are with the Infant in the manger, this Christmas. Wherever we view a Manger scene, we can be assured these Connecticut Babes are also very much in the Heart of the Innocent One. All the world sends hugs and kisses and love to parents, families and relatives of the Innocent Connecticut Babes and they are in all our hearts this Christmas. Also we pray for all the Lanza family, especially Ryan --our hearts are holding you close. God's Peace be with us all. (An American in Canada.)

  • stephen
    December 15, 2012 - 06:03

    God or Guns dont kill people. People kill people

    • Florentina
      December 15, 2012 - 13:39

      Good point Stephen. However, you can't argue the fact that a person with a gun and the intent to kill can take many more innocent lives than someone without a gun. Something needs to be done south of the border to make sure these dangerous weapons are better controlled. (Or banned, which is probably next to impossible at this point). Americans have the right to bear arms but no right to health care. Does this make sense to anybody?

  • don
    December 14, 2012 - 23:49

    stopping guns is a good idea but they can kill with a ball bat knife etc so we better stop making them to. what we need is stiffer laws no more of this we must protect the rights of killers.but i wonder how long before we have a child do this in Canada to copy this killing in a school. but lots of you thinks it will never happen here. well if you think that then you are really in need of help. it is the sing of the times and it will only get worse.

  • pei mother
    December 14, 2012 - 22:51

    P;ease bring ptayer back to our schools, courts and governments. Only God can straighten this mess out. God bless the victims and their families.

  • Tarsenault
    December 14, 2012 - 21:54

    The right to bear arms? FU America and the NRA....What about the rights of children to live to be teenagers, to grow up and be doctors, lawyers, Mommies and Daddies and give their parents the joys of seeing their children become parents. As for you Canada - the gun registry may have had it's faults but it was step in the right direction. I am sickened that we live in a society where my kids have to practice lock-downs at school...my heart aches....

  • Lil
    December 14, 2012 - 19:15

    How did this deranged animal gain entry to the school. God comfort all who call on Him in the midst of this tragedy. Bring prayer back and get rid of those violent video games

  • RIP
    December 14, 2012 - 18:43

    That picture is so upsetting to see

  • wayne weeks
    December 14, 2012 - 18:26

    Its been time for a long long time! but it's not going to happen...not in our time. When there is no animals left to hunt except the protection of what is left, Hunters will have no need to own guns. Hand guns are for shooting people and should only be owned by law enforcement, special agents and the military. but it's not going to happen in our time. One hundred such incidents in a year of children in class rooms being murdered, will not change anything as long as the largest organization in America the American Rifle Association has members. Every political candidate needs their support to get elected. No...not in our time.

  • Jack
    December 14, 2012 - 18:11

    While strict gun laws may seem like an easy answer, it won't stop the criminals and deranged from gettin them. Only way to stop it is to eliminate guns altogether!

  • SG
    December 14, 2012 - 17:29

    My heart aches for the parents and all who lost loved ones to a such a senseless act of violence. My Heartfelt Sympathy. I heard on a News Report that this man drove 78 miles and shot his younger brother than drove to the school and first shot his Mother who was a teacher there and then children and staff members! It is difficult to understand how someone close to this man did not realize he had a problem. Then maybe they did and he refused to get help. So Very Sad.

  • HEARTBROKEN
    December 14, 2012 - 15:21

    Could we not put prayer back into the schools? It cannot hurt and would help immensely, and put it back everywhere in our lives, replace all evil with good. We call on God for help naturally when bad things happen, so why not call on Him for our children every day? Teach our children to pray. Prayer is powerful.

    • Moe
      December 14, 2012 - 19:13

      Hiding behind the bible will not stop this from happening.

    • peiguy
      December 14, 2012 - 16:29

      I sit here with teary eyes as I write this thinking of the sadness that people bring upon each other. There is no HELL hot enough for those who hurt the children of our communities. My heart goes out to the families and the children as well as the professionals that have to deal with the investigations of this crime..

    • TRAGEDY
      December 14, 2012 - 16:35

      Prayer in school IS NOT going to stop a deranged gunman hell bent on destruction.How about addressing the idiot gun laws in the U.S.That may be a step in the right direction.

    • Anne Hemphill
      December 14, 2012 - 23:02

      I agree totally with heartbroken. Why wait till someone is killed to pray. P:ut prayer back in our schools.

    • Islander
      December 15, 2012 - 08:01

      If anything, this tagedy happening to those beautiful little angels makes you question God, not turn to him. Forcing one religion onto people isn't the answer. Stricter gun laws for Americans will be a start. We have some really sick, twisted people in this world. My thoughts are with the families of those affected. Rest easy beautiful angels.

  • PEI Man
    December 14, 2012 - 15:06

    Words cannot express the feel;ings I have for all of those involved and their families. My thoughts are with you all. God bless.

  • Ulfric
    December 14, 2012 - 13:40

    It's a shame this man was granted the easy way out. Congrats to the cops that shot him though, job well done.

    • LCCM
      December 14, 2012 - 19:01

      The police did not fire a single shot , the gunman killed himself.Get your facts together before posting

    • Crys
      December 14, 2012 - 21:27

      I'm with you on that.....I can't understand why people like this want to hurt people they don't know...and especially people they do know (in this case...) it saddens me that people can't ask for help. These poor families. I can't express how sad I am for them at this time. I hope that I never have to go through anything like this. I would love to say that I hope no one ever goes through something like this again...but unfortunately and sadly the way the world is heading (apparently) things like this will continue to happen if we don't try to correct crazy laws. And try to prepare for emergencies. As well the kids and the teachers in this school are so brave. They went through such a tragic situation and they tried to help each other and keep each other safe. I hope that these children get the information and help they are going to need to help them through everything. And I also would like to throw out there that prayer in school is not going to help. As well I don't want my child having religion forced down his throat. Everyone has their own beliefs and that's how it should be. I don't think you are a bad person for believing in god and praying...so why should you think that people who don't pray and believe in god are bad and need to be 'set the straight'? Did you ever think that maybe this kid was religious and he prayed to god..but god didn't answer? Who knows what drove him to this terrible act....but religion and beliefs are not going to fix mentally unstable people. Religion shouldn't even have been brought up. Sorry for the rant....