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Published: Sat, December 15, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.

Connecticut, country seek answers to killings

Associated Press


A man killed his mother at their 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 at least 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. The gunman, 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 so that they wouldn’t see the blood and broken glass.

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 of the vehicle. 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 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. Updates posted on Ryan Lanza’s Facebook page Friday afternoon 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 was in a meeting with other fourth-grade teachers when he heard the gunfire. 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 someone with a gun, 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.

On Friday night, hundreds of people packed a Newtown church and stood outside in a vigil for the victims. People held hands, lit candles and sang “Silent Night” at St. Rose of Lima church.

Anthony Bloss, whose three daughters survived the shootings, said they are doing better than he is. “I’m numb. I’m completely numb,” he said at the vigil.

Mergim Bajraliu, 17, said he 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.

Adam Lanza and his mother lived in a well-to-do part of Newtown where neighbors 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-caliber rifle in the back of a car.

A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said some of the guns used in the attack may have belonged to Lanza’s mother, who had legally bought five weapons.

Authorities also recovered three other guns — a Henry repeating rifle, an Enfield rifle and a shotgun. It was not clear exactly where those weapons were found.


1hotwings(41 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

No, he had autism with access to guns. Remove the guns and you have no monster.

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2GoPens(397 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Why? Easy.
Guns,Guns, Guns

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3Education_Voter(851 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

People who parent mentally unstable young adults, yet also keep semi-automatic weapons????? Colorado, Connecticut, c'mon people.

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4HonestAbe(270 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Hey NRA...how do you like your country now?

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5excel(280 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

We have plenty of kids in Youngstown who are armed and kill at will. They will steal their guns to do their dirty deeds. Guns lawfully obtained need to be locked up to end the risk of theft and obtainability by others.

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6IslandMike(752 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

On an average day in the U.S. there are between 44 and 45 homicides committed. So I guess we should NEVER discuss banning guns in the U.S. because it will NEVER be the proper time for the discussion.

U.S. has 88.8 guns for every 100 citizens and averages 8.8 homicides per 100,000 people.

Japan has 0.3 guns for every 100 citizens and averages 1.1 homicides per 100,000 people.

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7MPur1021240(15 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

The heart breaking event that took place yesterday in Newton Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary is beyond words. I am enraged that this has happened and that the lives of these children have been cut short by such unspeakable evil. Lord; why the children?! My heart aches for the mothers who bore these precious ones and the fathers of these very precious children. I cannot imagine nor do I want to imagine their pain.

That being said I want to take a moment to address those who have taken this unspeakable tragedy and turned it into a political opportunity. SHAME one you! The bodies of these little ones had not even been removed from their school when you started to beat the political drums and point the finger's! Shame on you Congress Woman Carolyn McCarthy! Shame on you Governor. Michael Bloomberg! Shame on you Michael Huckabee. You have no decency! At this time, this day, this weekend, instead of pointing fingers and beating political drums we should be doing everything we can to comfort and console the inconsolable, the parents who after this day will never again tuck their little ones into bed, never open the carefully chosen Christmas or birthday presents, never graduate...... Shame on you; shame on you all!

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8HonestAbe(270 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Oh please. Shame on the NRA while you're at it. And it's Mayor Bloomberg. I pray for the families and pray for some sanity to be restored in our country. Next week it might be YOUR or MY kid.... (By the way, those of you who are, like me, saddened and angered by this latest tragedy...take it upon ourselves to let our president, our senators, and our congressmen and women know how we feel about guns being in the hands of the criminally insane. We need to act NOW to DEMAND responsible gun ownership and the closing of loopholes, such as being able to purchase guns at gun shows, without background checks.) This morning, I don't know if more sad or more angry. What will it take for America to wake up? One hundred dead? One thousand?

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9IslandMike(752 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Yesterday's tradgedy will happen AGAIN, it's a matter of WHEN, not IF.

Can someone please remind me what guns are for?

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10mrblue(974 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Please pray for the children and their families. And pray for the adults that were also victims of this animal. May God bless them all. Also, pray that you don't ever have to feel this terrible pain.

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11Bigben(1996 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

This makes me sick to think about. I am certain we all feel that way. There have always been disturbed people but I have to say we seem to have more of them these days.By the way Autism does not equate to crazy there was more going on here with that young man, this was blatantly evil.

Morals , religion , valuing human life, valuing self , loving and serving others needs to be taught and modeled . Movies, TV, video games and certain music have perpetuated a loss of respect and dignity for others and self. It isn't just about self it is about others . This message has been lost today on much of the youth.

What has happened is too disturbing to fathom for me. Please pray for the families especially those who lost little ones .

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12IslandMike(752 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

It might take a "monster" to shoot defenseless children, but that "monster' needs a GUN to do it.

The U.S. averages 45 homicides daily.

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13Lifes2Short(3875 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Pure Evil! Nothing more, nothing less.

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