Saturday, December 15, 2012

Officials release ID's of 26 victims killed when a gunman opened fire inside a Connecticut school

Published December 15, 2012

FoxNews.com

NEWTOWN, Conn. –  The victims of the Connecticut school shooting were shot multiple times by rifle, the medical examiner said Saturday, and Dr. H. Wayne Carver said the deaths are classified as homicides. Police began releasing the identities of the dead.

Police said they had found "very good evidence" they hoped would answer questions about the motives of the 20-year-old gunman, described as brilliant but remote, who forced his way into the school and killed 26 children and adults in one of the world's worst mass shootings.

Click here to see a list of the victims.

Lt. Paul Vance said Saturday morning that the suspect was not voluntarily let into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Investigators were trying to learn more about the gunman, Adam Lanza, and questioned his older brother, who is not believed to have been involved in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Lanza shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, drove to the school in her car with at least three guns, including a high-powered rifle that he apparently left in the back of the vehicle, and shot up two classrooms around 9:30 a.m. Friday, law enforcement officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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.

Lanza was found dead inside the school, according to officials. Eighteen of the children and six more adults were dead at the school and two more children died later, Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance said at a press conference Friday.

The well-liked principal, Dawn Hochsprung, was believed to be among the dead. A woman who worked at the school was wounded.

The tragedy elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, a 20-year-old described as brilliant but remote, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims.

In tight-knit Newtown on Friday night, hundreds of people packed St. Rose of Lima church and stood outside in a vigil for the 28 dead -- 20 children and six adults at the school, the gunman's mother at home, and the gunman himself, who committed suicide. People held hands, lit candles and sang "Silent Night."

Vance would not confirm the shooter's name, and earlier Friday there were conflicting reports over the gunman's identity. Law enforcement sources told FoxNews.com the shooter was Lanza. His brother, Ryan Lanza, 24, who was widely and erroneously reported to be the suspect, was questioned in Hoboken, N.J., but authorities said he was not involved.  An FBI source tells Fox News that Ryan Lanza and the father, Peter Lanza, have both been cleared and are not longer being questioned.

"It is not a simplistic scene," Vance told reporters.

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 claimed 33 lives in 2007.

The vehicle the suspect drove to the school was registered to his mother. At least 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, authorities said.

Sources told Fox News the guns used in the shooting were owned by and legally registered to Nancy Lanza.

Vance said during Friday afternoon's news conference that police arrived at the scene "within minutes" of a 911 call placed shortly after 9:30 a.m.

"Every door, every crack, every crevice of that school" was checked, Vance said. “The entire school was searched.” He said the shooting occurred inside two rooms in "one section of the school."

Vance did not give details about the number of victims other than to say they included students and staff, pending notification of the families. He said more information would be released, possibly later Friday.

Vance also said that a "deceased adult" was found at a "secondary crime scene," though he declined to elaborate.

A source close to the investigation said the shooter's father, who lives in Stamford, Conn., is meeting with FBI agents.

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.

A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said investigators believe Lanza attended the school several years ago but appeared to have no recent connection to it.

At least one parent said Lanza's mother was a substitute teacher at the school. But her name did not appear on a staff list. And the official said investigators were unable to establish any connection so far between her and the school.

Former bus driver Marsha Moskowitz, who knew both Nancy Lanza and principal Dawn Hochsprung, said the shootings have shaken the small town to its core.

"Hug your kids tell them you love them," Moskowitz said. "I used to bus all these kids from kindergarten to high school. I know them."

President Obama was notified of the shooting around 10:30 am ET, White House officials said.

"Our hearts are broken today," Obama said in a brief address to the nation on Friday. "We've endured too many of these tragedies in these past few years, and each time I receive the news I react not as a president, but as a parent."

"Most victims were children, between five and 10 years old...They had their entire lives ahead of them, birthdays, graduations weddings, kids of their own," he said, pausing before wiping tears from his eyes.

Sandy Hook Elementary School has close to 700 students.

Newtown is in Fairfield County, about 45 miles southwest of Hartford and 60 miles northeast of New York City.

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 Friday night's vigil in Newtown.

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."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/12/15/at-least-26-dead-in-shooting-at-connecticut-school/#ixzz2FAOSa1i2