Kids slain at Connecticut school were 6, 7
December 15th, 2012
07:54 PM ET

Kids slain at Connecticut school were 6, 7

    • 20 children, six adults and the shooter are dead after shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday morning
    • Three law enforcement officials say Adam Lanza, 20, was the shooter, and that he died apparently by his own hand
    • Law enforcement officials say Lanza killed his mother, Nancy, at her Newtown home before going to the school
    • Victims' names released Saturday; all of the slain children were either 6 or 7 years old
    • Complete coverage: Connecticut school shooting

[Updated at 7:54 p.m. ET] Peter Lanza, father of alleged gunman Adam Lanza, released a statement Saturday expressing condolences to the families of victims.

"Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy. No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can," said the statement.

[Updated at 7:26 p.m. ET] U.S. President Barack Obama will go to Newtown on Sunday to meet with victims' families and first responders in the evening, the White House says.

He'll also speak at an interfaith vigil for the school's families. The vigil is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET Sunday.

[Updated at 7:12 p.m. ET] People are gathered outside Stratford (Connecticut) High School, for a vigil in honor of Victoria Soto, a 27-year-old first-grade teacher who was slain in Newtown.

Soto graduated from the Stratford high school in 2003.

[Updated at 6:22 p.m. ET] Earlier reports that the suspected shooter, Adam Lanza, had an altercation with four adults at the school on Thursday have been investigated and are not accurate, according to a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation.

Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police noted in a news conference Saturday that he knew of no reports about Lanza being involved in any altercations at the school.

[Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET] Nancy Lanza’s brother James Champion, a law enforcement officer in New Hampshire, didn’t deliver a statement as expected. Instead, the sheriff of Rockingham County, New Hampshire, delivered a statement on the Champion family’s behalf:

“The family of Nancy Lanza share the grief of a community and the nation as we struggle to comprehend the tremendous loss that we all share. Our hearts and prayers are with those who share in this loss: their families, teachers, staff and the students of Sandy Brook Elementary school, the first responders, and to all others touched by this tragedy. On behalf of Nancy’s mother and siblings, we reach out to the community of Newtown and express our heartfelt sorrow for the incomprehensible and profound loss of innocence that has affected so many.

“The family requests that you respect their privacy during his time of anguish and loss.”

The chief of police in Kingston, New Hampshire, said that Nancy Lanza lived in Kingston for a good part of her life and was a "very, very kind, considerate, loving young lady."

"She was very involved in the community and very well respected."

[Updated at 5:51 p.m. ET] An uncle of suspect Adam Lanza, is expected to address reporters in the next few minutes in New Hampshire.

The uncle is brother of Adam Lanza's mother, Nancy Lanza. Law enforcement officials say Adam Lanza killed Nancy Lanza in her Newtown home before the shootings at the school.

[Updated at 5:39 p.m. ET] Here are the names of those killed at the school, as provided by state police. CNN.com is publishing the full names of children only when parents have spoken publicly:

Charlotte, 6; Daniel, 7; Rachel Davino, 29; Olivia, 6; Josephine, 7; Ana, 6; Dylan, 6; Dawn Hochsprung, 47; Madeleine, 6; Catherine, 6; Chase, 7; Jesse, 6; James, 6; Grace, 7; Anne Marie Murphy, 52; Emilie Parker, 6; Jack, 6; Noah, 6; Caroline, 6; Jessica, 6; Avielle, 6; Lauren Rousseau, 30; Mary Sherlach, 56; Victoria Soto, 27; Benjamin, 6; Allison, 6.

[Updated at 5:38 p.m. ET] In a tearful talk with reporters, Robbie Parker, the 30-year-old father of 6-year-old Emilie Parker, who died in the shooting, said she was an exceptional artist who delighted in making cards and drawing pictures for people who needed an emotional lift.

"She always had a kind thing to say about everybody," he said. "I'm so blessed to be her dad."

He was teaching her Portuguese, and the last conversation he had with her on Friday morning was in that language, he said.

"She told me 'good morning' and asked how I was doing, and I said I was doing well," he said. Emilie told him she loved him, and they kissed before they left the home Friday morning, he said.

[Updated at 5:33 p.m. ET] Robbie Parker, the father of one of the victims a 6-year-old girl told reporters that she was "always smiling" and would, if she were alive, be one of the first people offering comfort to the relatives of the victims.

He thanked everyone who was offering condolences, and he offered his own to others who are suffering - including the family of the suspected shooter, Adam Lanza.

"I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be to you," Parker said, referring to the Lanza family.

He said his 6-year-old daughter was the "best friend" to her two younger sisters, and was teaching one of them to read.

"They looked to her when they needed comfort," Parker said. "Usually that's saved for a mom and a dad, but it was sweet to see ... how they would run to (her) for support and hugs and kisses.”

[Updated at 5:08 p.m. ET] "There will be time soon for a discussion of public policy issues surrounding yesterday’s events," Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a televised address, "but what’s important right now is love, courage, and compassion."

"Love," he said, "as it has poured in from around the world.

"Courage, as it was demonstrated by the teachers and other adults in the school building, whose actions no doubt saved lives.

"Courage on display, as it always is, by all our first responders.

"Compassion, as shown by people around Connecticut who’ve arrived in Newtown wanting only to help."

[Updated at 4:39 p.m. ET] All of the slain children were either 6 or 7 years old, according to information released by state police. There were 12 girl victims; eight boys. All of the adults killed were women.

[Updated at 4:13 p.m. ET] The victims at the school ranged in age from 6 to 56, according to information released by state police.

Eighteen of the victims at the school were described as female; eight were male. Twenty-six people died at the school, excluding the gunman. Twenty were children; six were adults.

[Updated at 4:11 p.m. ET] More on what the state's chief medical examiner told reporters minutes ago in Newtown: He said the "long weapon" was used in the shooting, and that the weapon caused all of the wounds that he knew of.

He didn't say what that weapon was, but a law enforcement source has previously said that the gunman was found dead with next to three guns: a semi-automatic .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle and two pistols made by Glock and Sig Sauer.

The medical examiner, H. Wayne Carver II, said he personally did postmortem examinations of seven victims' bodies.

“All the wounds that I know of at this point were caused by the one weapon,” Carver said.

[Updated at 3:58 p.m. ET] State police have released a list of those killed. More on that to come.

[Updated at 3:55 p.m. ET] The state's chief medical examiner says he believes all of the victims were shot more than once.

The medical examiner, H. Wayne Carver II, speaking at a news conference in Newtown, said that all of the victims died of gunshot wounds, and the manner of death was homicide. The seven bodies he examined personally had three to 11 wounds each, he said.

“I believe everyone was hit more than once,” Carver said.

Postmortem examinations have been performed on all of the children; examinations of most of the adult bodies will be finished by this evening, Carver said.

Examinations of the bodies of Adam Lanza and his mother will be performed Sunday, Carver said. Lanza died at the school; his mother was killed at her home in Newtown, authorities have said.

Police said a list of the victims' names would soon be published.

[Updated at 3:26 p.m. ET] Victoria Soto and Lauren Rousseau, both teachers at the school, are among the dead, according to friends and family members.

Earlier, CNN reported that princial Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach were among the killed.

Although authorities have identified all of those killed, they have yet to release a formal list of names.

[Updated at 3:06 p.m. ET] Investigators say they believe Adam Lanza tried to buy a gun at Dick's Sporting Goods in Danbury on Tuesday, but was unsuccessful, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN's Susan Candiotti.

Employees at the store some 12 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary have been interviewed and have searched the store's surveillance cameras for evidence that Lanza had been there.

Also, a second law enforcement source has said that Lanza was involved in some kind of trouble at the school earlier this week. The source said the altercation was between Lanza and four adults, and occurred Thursday, the day before the shooting.

Three of those adults, the source added, were killed during Friday's shooting.

The source was unable to say whether the disagreement took place inside or outside the school, but said that it apparently had something to do with him trying to enter the school.

(Update, 6:22 p.m. ET Reports that Adam Lanza, had an altercation with four adults at the school on Thursday have been investigated and are not accurate, according to a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation. Also, Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police noted in a news conference Saturday that he knew of no reports about Vance being involved in any altercations at the school.)

[Updated at 1:36 p.m. ET] Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy is expected to make a live, televised statement about the shooting, addressed to Connecticut residents, at 5 p.m.

[Updated at 1:12 p.m. ET] Investigators have been told that Adam Lanza had some sort of altercation with some people at the school a few days before the shooting, a law enforcement official told CNN's Carol Cratty. The official did not know the nature of the altercation or who was involved in it with Lanza.

[Updated at 11:59 a.m. ET] Adam Lanza tried to buy a gun in the area Tuesday before the shooting, a law enforcement source said, according to CNN's Susan Candiotti.

The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it is contacting shooting ranges and gun stores in the area to try to establish whether Lanza sought to purchase guns or practice using them.

[Updated at 11:50 a.m. ET] The gunman had access to more guns than the three found at the elementary school, a law enforcement source told CNN's Susan Candiotti.

Police recovered three additional guns elsewhere. They are a .45-caliber Henry repeating rifle, a .22-caliber Marlin rifle, and a .30-caliber Enfield rifle, the source said.

[Updated at 10:28 a.m. ET] The victims have been positively identified by the chief state medical examiner, state police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said in a press conference Saturday morning. The medical examiner is expected to release their names and birth dates in the next few hours.

It appears that the assailant "forced his way into the school," Vance said. Detectives continue to investigate the crime scene and will remain there for at least another day or two, Vance said. So far, investigators looking for a motive have found "some very good evidence," that will help them paint a complete picture of how and why this happened, he said.

The home of a woman believed to be the gunman's mother is also being investigated. After killing his mother, investigators believe the gunman took her guns and made his way to the elementary school.

Help for victims of Sandy Hook shooting

[Updated at 10:13 a.m. ET] The victims' bodies have been transported to the Office of the Chief State's Medical Examiner, where a post mortem examination will be conducted to determine manner and cause of death, the Connecticut State Police said in press release.

[Updated at 10 a.m. ET] Friday's shooting has sparked passionate nation conversation on a variety of issues, from school safety and gun control to mental health treatment. In a heated discussion, CNN's Piers Morgan and guests debate the need for stricter gun control laws in America.

Updated at 8:45 a.m. ET] The suspect in the shooting may have had access to at least five guns, a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation said Saturday.

Three weapons were recovered from the school on Friday: a semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle made by Bushmaster found in a car in the school parking lot, and two pistols made by Glock and a Sig Sauer found with suspected gunman Adam Lanza's body, a law enforcement source said previously.

[Updated at 8:26 a.m. ET] Pope Benedict XVI expressed "his heartfelt grief and the assurance of his closeness in prayer to the victims and their families and all to affected" by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, in a letter to the Diocese of Bridgeport Administrator Monsignor Jerald A. Doyle.

[Updated at 4:50 a.m. ET] Father William Hamilton, a volunteer chaplain for 30 years with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in New England said the Connecticut school shootings is the worse thing he's seen in his years counseling responders and victims’ families. “It’s beyond the scope of imagination. Parents are not supposed to have to bury their children," Hamilton told CNN. "This is the Christmas season. This season will never ever be the same for these families. It will over time perhaps get better, but it will always be a part of their history.”

[Updated at 1:30 a.m. ET]  A  family member of suspected shooter Adam Lanza told investigators that he had a form of autism, according to a law enforcement official, who spoke under condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the investigation.

[Updated at 12:30 a.m. ET]  Despite earlier reports that said she was a teacher, Nancy Lanza, the suspect's mother, was not a teacher at the school where the killings took place, said Janet Vollmer, a kindergarten teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Not much is known about the suspect's mother or the suspect Adam Lanza.  In September 2009 - when Adam Lanza was 17 - his mother and father divorced, court documents show. What happened after that for him, what caused the shootings that has shocked the nation, isn't clear.

[Updated at 11:18 p.m. ET] Aimee Seaver, the mother of a first-grade girl at Sandy Hook and a fifth-grader who attends a different school, told CNN's Anderson Cooper that her children are having trouble dealing with what happened.

"It's a very rough night here," she said. "When your first-grader goes to bed and says, 'Mommy, is anyone from my class last year are they all OK?' and you look at them and say, 'I'm not really sure,' it's a rough night to tell that to your 7-year-old."

Her younger daughter has asked a lot of questions about Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, who was killed.

“She got wind very quickly that something was wrong with our principal, which we didn’t tell her till just now that yes, she was definitely hurt and it wasn’t good," Seaver said. "It’s taking her a while. I think tomorrow will probably be harder for her.

“I also have a fifth-grader who came off the bus crying because she … had a sister who she was worried about, and … just basically left that school a few months ago. I think for a lot of those kids, they kind of are a little older and can get it a little bit faster, even though they weren’t in it.

“So the questions, I think, are coming. They’re not here, yet, especially for the littler ones. It started as I put them to bed tonight, the questions.”

[Updated at 10:50 p.m. ET] Janet Vollmer, a kindergarten teacher at the school, says she locked her classroom doors and to keep her students calm read them a story until the police came.

Vollmer, her 19 students and the adult helpers in her classroom were not injured.

"You could hear what sounded like pops, gunshots. Of course, I’m not going to tell that to 5-year-olds, so I said to them, ‘We’re going over in a safe area,'" Vollmer told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "And we read a story and we kept them calm, did a lockdown drill, closed the doors, locked (them), covered the windows, and kept the children with us.”

She said the children knew something unusual was going on.

“It didn’t seem a natural thing (to the children), although we do practice drills," Vollmer said. "We said, ‘We’re not really sure, but we’re going to be safe, because we’re sitting over here and we’re all together.’”

FULL STORY
soundoff (1,249 Responses)
  1. Mary

    I believe that we need to focus on our mental health system. I am a RN and use to work in mental health. Things have changed drastically regarding treatment options. Hospital stays are so much shorter. Trying to find a qualified mental health professional and being able to afford the treatment are difficult for many individuals. Our mental health system is suffering.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • maria880

      very true, we need to invest in mental health, it is very difficult and stigmatizing for young people to get treatment.
      i'm not referring to this heartbreaking murder of these beautiful children and the heroines that watched over them,
      in general we need to prioritize the health of our children, both physical and mental above foreign wars and bail outs for fat cat bankers.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mahli

    This is horrible. I'm a 13 yr-old in MA and I heard about this around lunch yesterday. The fact that Adam Lanza killed 26 people is too terrible for words.My heart goes out to the kids who survived and to the families of those who didnt. RIP little ones. I will light a candle for each of you tonight.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. James

    Dear God why do you allow violence in my school , my home, asked an young one. And God replied – ' Dear beloved I am not allowed there now a days'

    December 15, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lisa Yarost

      So God isn't everywhere?

      December 15, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • brittany

      Lisa he is everywhere, but like any parent he has to let us make our mistakes. Everyone dies, while it hurts so very badly that those little ones died so very early, they are spared from further suffering in this failing world

      December 15, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lyra

    Guns aren't going away, unfortunately. Let's try to address the mental health of the purchaser and user of guns. Gun Control = mental health examination(s) REQUIRED before license & every purchase. Increase mental health benefits in general.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kate

      That only helps until the person steals guns from a family, neighbor or friend.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  5. Constance York

    Why isn't anyone discussing the possibility of a connection to Violent video games? We've had them for about 20 years now. Instead of further dividing our country with gun debate, why not compromise and ban violent video games? The argument that only adults can buy them means nothing to me. It's not the same as books, it's not the same as movies, In video games, YOU participate in the vivid killing gaining a rush from it, and become a "winner."

    I'm 46 and I was 12 years old before I saw a violent image on film. How times have changed.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Chuck

    The blood of these children is on the hands of ALL politicians who oppose gun control. HOW is the second amendment helping us remain the best nation in the world? Education WAY down, health care turned into a PROFIT industry............HOW is the right to bare arms making us better than Canada and numerous European countries. We have been basking in our own BACKWARDNESS while our children die in schools! THEIRE BLOOD IS ON THE HANDS OF ALL POLITICIANS IN WASHINGTON. ALL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 15, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. UStephanie

    How do we know it wasn't the Obama administration that arranged for this to happen via a Manchurian Candidate so they can use this to further their anti American anti second amendment agenda?

    December 15, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • LTisch

      USteph: you've GOT to be kidding. How dare you make an accusation like that.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Flossie

      That is really sad you would think that way... These are children for goodness sake!!.. Focus on the real issues at hand and let's stop making excuses for the "so-called" mental state of all of these spoiled kids that can't get what they want and go commit a senseless act because they were "spared the rod" as a child!

      December 15, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • YES NO

      Interesting. but sad. could be. would be a good way to regulate guns. but so sad.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  8. Constance York

    totally agree

    December 15, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Barb

    Gun control is only the first step in preventing this kind of tragedy. re-focus on mental health and identifying persons who might be at risk for this type of violence is the second step. Allowing parents to force their adult children, via court-order, into psychiatric facilities or treatment centers might help in reducing gun-related violence and the atrocities. We need to take a multi-focused view of these situations. Parents need to refocus on what the kids are watching on TV, the electronic games they play, how much and the content of web and internet access. Continued exposure to violent games, TV shows, movies desensitizes us all, particularly young children. Take a look at some of the games for electronic devices, they mystify me and their appeal is appalling.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. ShelleyB

    The problem isn't really with gun control. Someone who really wants to will always find a gun. The problem is with the "privacy" laws governing mental health and the inability of even family members to seek help for troubled persons. Unless the person is deemed by an "expert" to be a threat to themselves or others no family member is even allowed to commit them-even when said person has stepped out of reality. It is extremely difficult to get a troubled person into the care of professionals when you believe it is necessary.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. W.

    We are a violent culture amidst a violent world of partisan hatred that nurtures nonlinear mental delusions. What do you expect when a child is given a toy gun as a gift or sees nothing but police television and violent news, not to mention video games? American has PTSD and it will only increase with intensity and creativity.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. RON L

    i been watching news all night and day and not one person has said anything different may i say waht is wrong guns are no good without thing something so little where and how do people get the bullets to kill the people please that is were the gun powder so how and why do they get so many please lets talk to government about that and please i beg u do not talk about the killer of innocent little lives what is wrong with people they are in morning and all them news people will not leave i beg all news people leave alone no story is more important them people suffering right now

    December 15, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. lindaluttrell

    What I was stunned to learn is that the three guns, including an asault rifle, belonged to the killer's mother! What in the world possessed her to not lock these weapons up??? Sadly, we will never know.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • maggiesview

      Lock the up from her adult son??? Maybe they were. Maybe he, as an ADULT knew where the key was....

      December 15, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • RP106

      I agree the guns should have been locked up but there iis a bigger question. Is the right to bare a simi automatic weapon woth the lives of 20 innocent children

      December 15, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Suzan

      One question I have is the confusion of the identification of the suspect. One report said he was carrying his brother ID. Did the brother report is ID stolen?

      December 15, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • joedog

      "One was a first-grade teacher who reportedly threw herself in front of the gunman to shield her students" Will the Media remember this when they glamorize celebrities as being famous for being famous. The entertainment cartels: will they still make cheap violent films to exploit young minds. Plenty to answer for here. But the NRA and its paid for politicians are the cruelest joke in this national tragedy. Let's make all politicians, who take support from the NRA stand up publicly and tell us why we need automatic weapons available to all.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Bomma

      My sympathy to all involved!
      What we need to do is open up the mental health hospitals that were closed to save money. We need to offer help to people with mental health problems and to their family members!
      The 3 day hold put on these people when they are raging does nothing to help as they are released usually with no follow up. Family members are not equipped to deal with this and often have no where to turn when they realize their loved one is beyond control and needs help.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. thomas ng

    Agree, mental health should be checked every year to renew license.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Realityblowz

    5 years ago I predicted that this type of scenario would happen, in the Detroit Free Press editorials. I said that it is time for people to allow teachers to be trained and armed with concealed carry, if they so choose, as a matter of last resort. I now blame all of you that refuse to deal with life's monsters, and just stick your head in the sand. This killer was not legally able to even purchase ammunition, and he broke so many laws when he took the guns. How did that work out? And for the next killings that some freak will do again, I will blame you once again.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
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