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. SDK

    After a few days of outrage, bickering about gun laws and demands for Navy Seals in every schools everything will be back to normal. No fundamental issues will be addressed and we can all go back to shopping for Christmas presents.

    December 15, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • LT

      I know...and that just breaks my heart.

      December 15, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • cleareye1

      Grim...and true.

      December 15, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Budha

      Right to Arms should be Paying Taxes,Continious employment,Minimum IQ Verification,Good referral letters, Police Background checks etc...
      to avoid further Bloodshed..

      December 15, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      Sad, but probably true.

      December 15, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      To bad that your plan won't work Budha – this worthless loser didn't own the guns – his mother did.

      December 15, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. EdD

    To all the people mad at the media for reporting a fact that the shooter had a form of autism...Get Over It. Everyone is trying to find out how this man ticked and that was a part of who he was. No report nor anything I have read is blaming autism in any way. Chill the eff out and stop being so self-centered and overly defensive. This isn't about you.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  3. EdD

    CNN usually uses poor judgement. It's their thing.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. 111Dave111

    "There were a lot of children killed on 911"
    This statement is not true.
    Most were adults at work or on their way to work.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Yes there were children killed at 9-11 also Waco and Oklahoma City.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Naomi E.

      The average age of the dead in New York City was 40.[26] The dead included eight children: five on American Airlines Flight 77 ranging in age from 3 to 11, three on United Airlines Flight 175 ages 2, 3, and 4.[27] The youngest victim was a 2 1/2 year-old child on Flight 175, the oldest an 85 year-old passenger on Flight 11.[28] In the buildings, the youngest victim was 18 and the oldest was 79.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sarah Gaylord upstate NY

    Can someone please explain to me why we have tower guards protecting our criminals but not our children ?? Guns don't kill...people do !!!!

    December 15, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • lordnimrond

      Uh,...are you high? Guars in towers are there to insure criminals STAY inside prison, not to "protect them"... Also, that whole "guns don't kill" hoo-haw is old, tiring, and meaningless... If you apply that logic to chemical weapons and nuclear weapons, then there's no reason we should be stopping Iran from getting them..... Because, after all "thermonuclear warheads don't kill people, people kill people"....

      December 15, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. zz12

    Soledad, harping on gun control is not going to be the solution. No matter what laws are put into place, there will always be available firearms. I feel we should focus on mental health.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. Clemence

    Really the headline has to be autism? CNN I think you generally do a great job with the news. However, whether the killer was autistic or not has NOTHING to do with this horrible crime. You have just put fear of autism in the minds of people and made it harder for those kids who do suffer from autism to lead normal lives. maybe you should read about autism before putting it on your website. you may not say this was the cause but you know very well people will make that leap all on their own. I understand you are under pressure to find more information about the killer, you need the scoop, but please be careful of what you do put on your website.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. cassie

    Yes,Skye, I have personal experience with trying to get help for an individual who is in an illness that has gravitated to a psycosis because of lack of medication for a chemical imbalance of the brain. You have to say they are in danger of hurting themselves or others befor you can start the proceeding. They usually are kept no more than 10 days in a crisis
    center and are discharged with prescriptions and referral to a Psychiatrist or appt. with their own Doctor. Usually the patient is bit better by that time because of getting the meds and co-operates with Doctors. At one time people were railroaded for one reason or another by family members to hospitals;an abuse that has been corrected but now has gone to the other extreme. It is a horrible situation in a crisis for the patient and for the family members.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  9. zz12

    I agree completely!

    December 15, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. Stan

    Soledad O'Brien is bound and determined to not present all facts only the "Gun Control" part she wants everyone to think is important. She wants to ignore the Mental Health aspect; according to her controlling the interviews it is a non-fact and has no bearing on this massacre. No wonder viewing is dropping, one more just stopped viewing CNN all together. Facts are not supposed to be dictated by the interviewer.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris C

      Wat to go Stan! You hit the nail on the head.

      December 15, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. D.J.

    We have a son with a "form of autism" and this is awful to put it up as a banner ad for the cause of this tragedy. I do not believe it is possible to stamp a reason for these kinds of tragedies. However, to elude that autism was a cause is to cause more hate to be formed in this world that does not need to exist. There are many people who have autism spectrum disorders and they are not violent, but amazing individuals. In this day and age, you think we would be more enlightened than to denigrate a group of people like that. I agree with a post above. You could put any physical characteristic in there.

    One thing that we notice as we go out Christmas shopping this season is the preponderance of violent games and movies. Does anyone ever talk about that? Does anyone ever see we glorify movies and games that have vast amounts of violence?

    Do we ever share the good things on television that people do or only the bad? Before blaming a world of people with a disability, perhaps we all should take stock of how much violent television and media we allow in our lives. How much negative news? How many violent movies? How many "shoot 'em up" games?

    How much negative do we allow into our world?

    Please do not let this tragedy become the seedbed to hurting a group of innocent people. It isn't right and it isn't fair and I for one am frightened today that people will be afraid of my son with Aspergers. Why should I have to feel that way? He's an honor student at a local college (top student in his graduating class no less) who loves animals and is kind to people.

    It's not a mental illness. He has a genetic disorder, Aspergers is a part of that disorder. He shuns hurtful things because they overwhelm him.

    Sometimes people there are no answers. Sometimes we just need to pray and be grateful for each day we have on this beautiful world.

    We want something or someone to blame. It just causes more problems. Why let a tragedy have a negative ripple effect? Why give that negativity more power? We shouldn't let that situation harm or hurt anymore people than it already did.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. Clemence

    Thank you Bea! I'm so mad at cnn for this label! even if this murderer was autistic it has nothing to do with this horrible crime!

    December 15, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jen

    As someone who has worked with children and adolescents diagnosed with Autism this disgusts me. The people of this country are ignorant and will drive anything the media says down to the ground. When will we ever learn? Probably after 10 or 20 more tragedies...but then again, all talk no action, so probably not.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  14. Farrok

    When I was young there were fights at school, the worst was a bloody nose, now they kill each other. America has changed and changed for the worst. Killing each other will not stop the problems only compound them. Stop hurting others, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Watch what you say to others as you never know what hurts them. I need to watch that one myself. The whole event is very sad............

    December 15, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  15. Revellia Rasmussen

    I agree! She is trying to turn a time of grief into. Debate/argument at the inappropriate time. The congresswoman tried to tell her and I am switching channels right now cause that is what the whole news on this channel is turning to!

    December 15, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
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