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. 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.’”

soundoff (1,251 Responses)
  1. Franco

    Guns and the freedom to kill as many people as you can before they get you. Automatic guns of today are efficient killing machines. This type of massacres will continue and nothing will change. In a few days another news event will fill the void.

    December 15, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mb1cobra

    Lord knows what awaits for Lanza. What a poor fool! Hahaha!

    December 15, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tommy

    Its the video games... Gamers get conditioned to rack up the body count. These losers spend hunders of hours in their murder simulators getting deconditioned to the senselessness of their violent actions. Look at how they dress up in fatigues and body armor as they head out to kill. They don't dress up as hunters in deer camo. They fantasize to be super efficient killing machines and to win by scoring a ton of hits.

    December 15, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • ERICK

      I totally agree with you tommy new generations are disensitized by all kind of shootin at people games, violent movies, vilolent music, strange tv programs etc.

      December 15, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rkdres

    Funny how CNN was saying for over 24 hours that the rifle was found in the car, now they are saying the rifle was used in the shootings. CNN, how about some factual reporting instead of your willy nilly approach to "journalism"

    December 15, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Trimella

    I would like to Set up a Fundraiser for the family of shooting in ct how do i go about doing that

    December 15, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Renee G.

    Guns may not kill people, but they make people killing more efficient.

    December 15, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jessica

    I really dont think they should release the victims names to the public maybe to the parents of the children that goes to that school so that they can tell their children in a private way. Just think that it will make it harder on the parents that lost their child. Since there are idiots out there that will probably find a way to harrass the family

    December 15, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Alice

    Please Please very CLEAR with discussing Mental illness, AND is not all lumped togetther and it is all leagalese....the thin line between pre-meditated and not is pretty porous. Get a couple of diagnosticians and renowned psychotherapists on to clarify this PLEASE. And then look at the difficulty in obtaining diagnosis and essential and adequate treatment. Diagnosis it extremely iffy. Treatment is nearly impossible. So sorry to say. It is just criminal that it is much easier to BUY a GUN than to GET TREATMENT.

    December 15, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Judi

    This is so sad – I am sickened about many of these comments on the CNN BLOG – WHY we ask – we really need to address mental health – just look at this blog – comment by Apathy on CNN comment "Who Cares" now someone saying funeral directors are Happy – whoever said it never has had to put someone close to rest – yes they make money but you know they are for the most part carrying family people. MY POINT MENTAL HEALTH IS A BIG BIG ISSUE – WE HAVE 27 PEOPLE DEAD – AND WE HAVE PEOPLE USING THIS AS AN AGENDA FOR (AND i WILL ADD REAL ISSUES) BUT MENTALLY SOUND PEOPLE DO NOT LATCH ON TO SUCH TRAGEDY TO PURSUE SUCH AGENDAS

    December 15, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Vanesa

    This is so sad why children even It being the holidays!!

    December 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. marcia

    when guns are purchased make the gun buyer go threw a more rigorous background check as police officer on cnn said today. he said that when police officers are hired they are checked on every avenue and also learn how to SECURE.

    December 15, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Is that training why we have FBI, CIA and other law enforcement officers that lose their weapons in public places? No one is 100% secure anywhere.

      December 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Concerned parent

    Prayers for all....

    We need more protection from SOME of these crazy people with guns. We need more security and metal detectors in schools, malls, movie theaters etc. If the airport can have them, then why can't other places. At least some kind of protection, please! It's happening all over, more and more

    December 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Can

    What a dumb comment. AKs are illegal, especially in Connecticut. Try to look past your own nose.

    December 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Renee G.

    This country was not founded on God. It was founded on the freedom of religion whatever that might be. For you to say one is better than the other is wrong. You do not need god to learn right from wrong or to have compassion for your fellow man.

    December 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whereisyourgod

      Wells said!!

      December 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • AB

      Read a little history. America was found on the idea of freedom of religion, however it was most certainly founded with God and religion in mind. Read the Declaration of Independence which mentions God.

      December 15, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. lori brown

    Remove God out of school and out of our nation and what do you expect. We have become a violent nation because of the films we produce. Now people say pray.. its too late the victims are gone.. Let's pray to put God back in America. Lets be able to pray again on school property. Lets seek God like never before.

    December 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      go back to watching huckabee

      December 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • istor

      No. Just no.

      December 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whereisyourgod

      Are yous serious? Your god allowed these children to be massacred and you say pray more??

      December 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |

      Amen, Lori!

      December 15, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • MT

      So, your god only protects innocent children if they are forced to fall on their knees and worship him? Sounds like a friggen evil cult leader to me. Instead of your approach, I (an atheist), offer my sympathies to the families (both of the murdered and the murderer). Makes you think, doesn't it?

      December 15, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |

      Whereisyourgod – See, it's caved minded people who voted for God to be remove from each public schools and now you want to blame God??? An atheists decides to kill these children and NOW you wished for God to have stopped this cave minded atheist when you atheists say, "THERE IS NO GOD"??? Make up your mind!!

      December 15, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • DonnieH.

      Yeah because an all powerful God can't get around the whole separation of church and state thing I guess. If their were a God then he is suppose be everywhere and see everything . He is suppose to know what we are thinking and whats in our hearts yet he did nothing. Eliminate assault weapons, extended clips and impose strict gun laws with mandatory sentencing. Also require a pysch eval. before being allowed to purchase a firearm. Assault weapons and extended 30 round clips serve no purpose other than killing people. If you are hunting and you have to shoot more than a dozen times at something you don't need a bigger clip you need more practice. Lets stop protecting gun laws and start protecting our children and citizens...

      December 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |

      MT – If you raise your child to denounce God, why would you even EXPECT for God to protect a child of an unbeliever? I am pretty sure that many of these children's parents are atheists. But for those who do believe in God, they shall seek comfort and healing and justice in God.

      December 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kealia1974

      No Lori. God has nothing to do with this.

      December 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Atheist yes

      Sorry there is no God...and the make believe "god' you pray to is nothing more than a mass murderer than loved to kill your Bible...your God loves to kill the first born males....

      December 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
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