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. grieving

    This is heart-wrenching and senseless situation. My heart goes out to all these families.

    Sadly, these stories overshadow all the deaths that occur every day from other senseless acts that just don't make sensational journalism. More specifically, the deaths that occur with the other deadly devices that EVERY person has access to - a 2+ ton car operated by a by a distracted driver with a cell phone. In most states it is illegal, but we all see it happen and see or experience the consequences every day. What makes it different is that everyone has one of each whether we need then or not. It just easier to target gun owners and gun related deaths.

    If this person wanted to, they could just as easily use the family car...

    Are people willing to take away cars? Or make cell phones inoperative on the road? Obviously that isn't a realistic option, but the related deaths and accidents are overlooked every day because it its easier to talk about gun control.

    We need to focus on the issues that are driving people to these horrific acts and quit targeting the personal choices of law-abiding gun owners because people don't understand their choice in ownership. If we examine where the senseless deaths mount day in and day out, we will have a better chance of reducing tragedy and grief...

    December 15, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • GreenPhotog

      Prayers for victims' families. Yes, cars kill every day, but they are a necessity. Try and imagine functioning without them. Can we function as a society without guns? I don't see a reason in the world for owning them. Hunters kill mostly as a sport target and ranges are sports activities. Our forefathers allowed guns as a hedge against Britain's tyranny. Now we need a hedge against the outdated Second Amendment. And, people packing guns legally in, say, malls, if it ever comes to that, will be bad for business.

      December 15, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Eric S

      Yes...we do take cars away from the mentally incompetent. Just a month ago, A friend of mine whos father was in a minor traffic accident (fender bender) who is 78 years old and his driving priviledges revoked over one small accident. And yes, some states have already outlawed use of cell phone period while driving. IL being one that comes to mind.

      People want to villify the mental illness rather than making our world a safer place for all of us including mentally ill citizens.

      December 15, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • GreenPhotog

      Yes, prayers for victims' families. Guns aren't a necessity as cars and possibly cell phones are. What purpose do guns serve, other than to kill? That's what they were made for, and that's what they'll always be for. Sorry, I don't agree with your argument.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • wagaroo

      So, you honestly believe this person would have created this massacre with the family car? Denial is what is wrong with the country. Yes, he is sick, violent and mentally deranged, but the fact that he could so easily access weapons, cost the lives of twenty innocent children and six adults. Please...

      December 15, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |

      Version I: Guns don't kill people, people don't kill people, bullets kill people.
      Version II: Guns don't kill people, people don't kill people, bullets don't kill people, but guns + people + bullets, kill people.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. Carlos

    Media outlets are already reporting that “a raft of services” will be available for the children of Sandy Hook Elementary school, and the Newtown community, where Adam Lanza killed 26 people yesterday.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  3. Cb

    Why don't we just enforce the laws that are already on the books.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      Because the laws were relaxed in 2004. Many of us just want a return to the pre-2004 laws, which still allowed for these types of weapons, but had limits on their features.

      December 15, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  4. Chris C

    How did we get from a terrible tragedy committed against teachers and innocent children, to drones in Afghanistan?...again, people, get off your soapboxes....stop your personal agenda flagging...I mean really....

    December 15, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. mark

    its the video games! the common denominator in all of these cases! hours spent in front of computers and gaming devices practicing and hardening themselves to the pain and suffering they will cause. they are then able to enter that mall or school and thier mind goes back into its gaming stance and they reflect on all of the training as they approach, make contact, and attack killing mercilessly without remorse!

    December 15, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. Eric S

    Solodad Obrien, should be commended during her interview of the republican congress woman this morning regarding the Gun Control discussion. Once again, congress wants to make being mentally ill the crime rather than acknowledge their own refusal to stand up against the gun lobby and make our Country a safer place to be.

    It is the ease of access that is the problem with guns, along with the massive ability guns have to take out so many lives in such a short period of time. Regardless of any illness, we control bomb making, so why not control guns.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • GOP = Grewd Over People

      Agreed, she was dogged in her determination to not let Bono-Mack off the hook with her proffered sound bites.

      December 15, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. J

    It was known he had mental illness, AND yet guns were kept at the house?

    Did his father or brother know about the guns being kept by his mother where he lived?

    If so, would that make them accessories to this travesty?

    December 15, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. Hyena

    May they find the peace and safety that eluded them here as they sit on His lap and kiss the face of God.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Concerned mother

    Early yesterday on Facebook before the news went nuts about the shootings; Adam's facebook page was up and it was very distrubing because his profile pic was a group shoot of young guys in tactical gear holding what appeared to rifles; gas masks, the 9 yards, almost like the Modern Warfare games on xbox; and the big profile pic in the backround was a Samari sword; the picture disappeared and was taken down; was into a violent video game group with a bunch of young guys like himself or got involved in some on-line cult; he went after the children because they were probably his mother's students? (her pride & joy who she talked about at home); he had something against his mother and he just snapped; it's so sad. God Bless the children & families my heart goes out to them

    December 15, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. Cindy

    Good point, agreed!

    December 15, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. brittany

    are there state troopers placed with the family members of the shooter? also, why would CNN not respect the privacy of the shooter's family just the same as the rest of the victims' families? They are dealing with 2 losses, and deserve to be able to grieve peacefully, without harassment. This is a terrible situation all around, and my heart breaks for all of the victims' loved ones.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  12. James

    Everybody is talking about gun control.... Nobody is talking about the problem of broken families and its effects on children...

    December 15, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • To mar

      It is all of these things. First get rid of the guns while working on family and social issues.

      December 15, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  13. Denise T

    Why would the names of the children and families be released to the public at this time?! What moronic decision that is and what good will come of this action? Instead of opening Pandora's box and let all the lunatics have access to them, give them the privacy they need and deserve.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. kvcobra

    Upon further review, Ralph Ankenman is a troll pimping his own (shoddy) Web site in the wake of tragedy. He's a virtual ambulance chaser.

    December 15, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sandy

    Manner and cause of death...really!!

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