TribLIVE

| News


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Gunman kills 26, himself at Connecticut elementary

Joshua Lott | Reuters - Two women light a candle outside St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman opened fire on school children and staff in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Joshua Lott | Reuters</em></div>Two women light a candle outside St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman opened fire on school children and staff in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, 2012.
Getty Images - STRATFORD, CT - DECEMBER 15: Donna Soto (R), mother of Victoria Soto, the first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School who was shot and killed while protecting her students, hugs her daughter Karly (second from right) while mourning their loss with Victoria's other two siblings, Jillian (far left) and Matthew Soto (second from left), at a candlelight vigil at Stratford High School on December 15, 2012 in Stratford, Connecticut. Twenty-six people were shot dead, including twenty children, after a gunman identified as Adam Lanza opened fire in the school. Lanza also reportedly had committed suicide at the scene. A 28th person, believed to be Nancy Lanza was found dead in a house in town, was also believed to have been shot by Adam Lanza. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>STRATFORD, CT - DECEMBER 15: Donna Soto (R), mother of Victoria Soto, the first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School who was shot and killed while protecting her students, hugs her daughter Karly (second from right) while mourning their loss with Victoria's other two siblings, Jillian (far left) and Matthew Soto (second from left), at a candlelight vigil at Stratford High School on December 15, 2012 in Stratford, Connecticut. Twenty-six people were shot dead, including twenty children, after a gunman identified as Adam Lanza opened fire in the school. Lanza also reportedly had committed suicide at the scene. A 28th person, believed to be Nancy Lanza was found dead in a house in town, was also believed to have been shot by Adam Lanza. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
REUTERS - A boy weeps as he is told what happened after being picked up at Reed Intermediate School following a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>REUTERS</em></div>A boy weeps as he is told what happened after being picked up at Reed Intermediate School following a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012.
Jared Wickerham | Getty Images - People embrace outside of the Newtown United Methodist Church on Dec. 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-seven are dead, including 20 children, after a gunman identified as Adam Lanza in news reports, opened fire in the Sandy Hook School in Newton.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Jared Wickerham | Getty Images</em></div>People embrace outside of the Newtown United Methodist Church on Dec. 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-seven are dead, including 20 children, after a gunman identified as Adam Lanza in news reports, opened fire in the Sandy Hook School in Newton.
AP photo | Newtown Bee, Shannon Hicks - In this photo provided by the Newtown Bee, paramedics and others rush toward Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> AP photo | Newtown Bee, Shannon Hicks</em></div>In this photo provided by the Newtown Bee, paramedics and others rush toward Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.
Jessica Hill | Associated Press - A woman waits to hear about her sister, a teacher, following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., about 60 miles northeast of New York City, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. An official with knowledge of Friday's shooting said 27 people were dead, including 20 children.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Jessica Hill | Associated Press</em></div>A woman waits to hear about her sister, a teacher, following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., about 60 miles northeast of New York City, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. An official with knowledge of Friday's shooting said 27 people were dead, including 20 children.
REUTERS - President Barack Obama wipes a tear as he speaks about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., during a press briefing at the White House in Washington Dec. 14, 2012. Reuters
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>REUTERS</em></div>President Barack Obama wipes a tear as he speaks about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., during a press briefing at the White House in Washington Dec. 14, 2012. Reuters
REUTERS - A child reacts to police and fireman staged nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School where a gunman opened fire on school children and staff in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012. Reuters
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>REUTERS</em></div>A child reacts to police and fireman staged nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School where a gunman opened fire on school children and staff in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012. Reuters
AP | Newtown Bee, Shannon Hicks - In this photo provided by the Newtown Bee, Connecticut State Police lead children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., following a reported shooting there, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  AP | Newtown Bee, Shannon Hicks</em></div>In this photo provided by the Newtown Bee, Connecticut State Police lead children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., following a reported shooting there, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.
Michelle McLoughlin | Reuters - Young children wait outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. A shooter opened fire at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, killing several people including children, the Hartford Courant newspaper reported.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Michelle McLoughlin | Reuters</em></div>Young children wait outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. A shooter opened fire at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, killing several people including children, the Hartford Courant newspaper reported.
Michelle McLoughlin | Reuters - Parents pick-up their children after a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. A man opened fire at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, killing several people including children.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Michelle McLoughlin | Reuters</em></div>Parents pick-up their children after a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. A man opened fire at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, killing several people including children.
Michelle McLoughlin | Reuters - A young boy is comforted outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. A shooter opened fire at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, killing several people including children.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Michelle McLoughlin | Reuters</em></div>A young boy is comforted outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. A shooter opened fire at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, killing several people including children.
Michelle McLoughlin | Reuters - A woman carries her daughter following a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. A shooter opened fire at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, killing several people including children.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Michelle McLoughlin | Reuters</em></div>A woman carries her daughter following a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. A shooter opened fire at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, killing several people including children.
Michelle McLoughlin | Reuters - Parents talk to a man outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. At least 27 people, including children, were killed on Friday when a shooter opened fire at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Michelle McLoughlin | Reuters</em></div>Parents talk to a man outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012.  At least 27 people, including children, were killed on Friday when a shooter opened fire at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Adrees Latif | Reuters - Family members embrace each other outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. At least 27 people, including children, were killed on Friday when at least one shooter opened fire at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, CBS News reported, citing unnamed officials.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Adrees Latif | Reuters</em></div>Family members embrace each other outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. At least 27 people, including children, were killed on Friday when at least one shooter opened fire at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, CBS News reported, citing unnamed officials.
Michelle McLoughlin | Reuters - Parents pick-up children outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. At least 27 people, including children, were killed on Friday when at least one shooter opened fire at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, CBS News reported, citing unnamed officials.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Michelle McLoughlin | Reuters</em></div>Parents pick-up children outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012.  At least 27 people, including children, were killed on Friday when at least one shooter opened fire at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, CBS News reported, citing unnamed officials.
Adrees Latif | Reuters - Police patrol the streets outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. At least 27 people, including children, were killed on Friday when at least one shooter opened fire at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, CBS News reported, citing unnamed officials.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Adrees Latif | Reuters</em></div>Police patrol the streets outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. At least 27 people, including children, were killed on Friday when at least one shooter opened fire at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, CBS News reported, citing unnamed officials.
Adrees Latif | Reuters - Family members embrace each other outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. At least 27 people, including children, were killed on Friday when at least one shooter opened fire at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, CBS News reported, citing unnamed officials.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Adrees Latif | Reuters</em></div>Family members embrace each other outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. At least 27 people, including children, were killed on Friday when at least one shooter opened fire at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, CBS News reported, citing unnamed officials.

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Related Stories

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, 10:48 a.m.
 

NEWTOWN, Conn. — A man killed his mother at their home and then opened fire Friday inside an elementary school, massacring 26 people, including 20 children, as youngsters cowered in fear to the sound of gunshots reverberating through the building and screams echoing over the intercom.

The 20-year-old killer, carrying at least two handguns, committed suicide at the school, bringing the death toll to 28, authorities said.

The rampage, coming less than two weeks before Christmas, was the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre that claimed 33 lives in 2007.

"Our hearts are broken today," a tearful President Barack Obama, struggling to maintain his composure, said at the White House. He called for "meaningful action" to prevent such shootings, saying, "As a country, we have been through this too many times."

Police shed no light on the motive for the attack. The gunman, Adam Lanza, was believed to suffer from a personality disorder and lived with his mother, said a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation but was not authorized to discuss it.

Panicked parents looking for their children raced to Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, a prosperous New England community of about 27,000 people 60 miles northeast of New York City. Police told youngsters at the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade school to close their eyes as they were led from the building so that they wouldn't see the blood and broken glass.

Schoolchildren — some crying, others looking frightened — were escorted through a parking lot in a line, hands on each other's shoulders.

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

A custodian ran through the halls, warning of a gunman on the loose, and someone switched on the intercom, alerting people in the building to the attack — and perhaps saving many lives — by letting them hear the hysteria going on in the school office, a teacher said. Teachers locked their doors and ordered children to huddle in a corner or hide in closets as shots echoed through the building.

Authorities gave no details on exactly how the attack unfolded, but police radio traffic indicated the shooting lasted only a few minutes. State police Lt. Paul Vance said officers arrived instantaneously, immediately entered the school, searched it completely and found Lanza dead.

In addition to the 20 children, six adults were killed at the school; the principal was believed to be among the dead. A woman who worked at Sandy Hook Elementary was wounded.

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

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

Lanza's older brother, 24-year-old Ryan, of Hoboken, N.J., was being questioned, but a law enforcement official said he was not believed to have had a role in the rampage. Investigators were searching his computers and phone records, but he told law enforcement he had not been in touch with his brother since about 2010.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the unfolding investigation.

At one point, a law enforcement official mistakenly identified the gunman as Ryan Lanza. Brett Wilshe, a friend of Ryan Lanza's, said Lanza told him the gunman may have had his identification. Ryan Lanza apparently posted Facebook page updates Friday afternoon that read, "It wasn't me" and "I was at work."

Robert Licata said his 6-year-old son was in class when the gunman burst in and shot the teacher. "That's when my son grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door," he said. "He was very brave. He waited for his friends."

He said the shooter didn't utter a word.

Stephen Delgiadice said his 8-year-old daughter heard two big bangs. Teachers told her to get in a corner, he said. "It's alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America," he said. His daughter was uninjured.

Theodore Varga was in a meeting with other fourth-grade teachers when he heard the gunfire. He said someone had turned on the intercom so that "you could hear people in the office. You could hear the hysteria that was going on. I think whoever did that saved a lot of people. Everyone in the school was listening to the terror that was transpiring."

Also, a custodian ran around, warning people there was someone with a gun, Varga said.

"He said, 'Guys! Get down! Hide!'" Varga said. "So he was actually a hero." The teacher said he did not know if the custodian survived.

Mergim Bajraliu, 17, said he heard the gunshots echo from his home and ran to check on his 9-year-old sister at the school. He said his sister, who was uninjured, heard a scream come over the intercom. He said teachers were shaking and crying as they came out of the building.

"Everyone was just traumatized," he said.

On Friday night, hundreds of people packed a Newtown church and stood outside in a vigil for the victims. People held hands, lit candles and sang "Silent Night" at St. Rose of Lima church. Anthony Bloss, whose three daughters survived the shootings, said they are doing better than he is. "I'm numb. I'm completely numb," he said at the vigil.

Mary Pendergast said her 9-year-old nephew was in the school at the time of the shooting but wasn't hurt after his music teacher helped him take cover in a closet.

Richard Wilford's 7-year-old son, Richie, told him that he heard a noise that sounded like "cans falling." The boy said a teacher went out to check on the noise, came back in, locked the door and had the children huddle in the corner until police arrived.

"There's no words," Wilford said. "It's sheer terror, a sense of imminent danger, to get to your child and be there to protect him."

On Friday afternoon, family members were led away from a firehouse that was being used as a staging area, some of them weeping. One man, wearing a T-shirt without a jacket, put his arms around a woman as they walked down the middle of the street, oblivious to everything around them. Another woman with tears rolling down her face walked by, carrying a car seat with a baby inside.

"Evil visited this community today and it's too early to speak of recovery, but each parent, each sibling, each member of the family has to understand that Connecticut — we're all in this together. We'll do whatever we can to overcome this event," Gov. Dannel Malloy said.

Adam Lanza and his mother lived in a well-to-do part of Newtown where neighbors are doctors or hold white-collar positions at companies such as General Electric, Pepsi and IBM.

At least three guns were found — a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols, inside the school, and a .223-caliber rifle in the back of a car, authorities said. A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said some of the guns used in the attack may have belonged to Lanza's mother, who had legally bought five weapons.

Authorities also recovered three other guns — a Henry repeating rifle, an Enfield rifle and a shotgun. It was not clear exactly where those weapons were found.

The shootings instantly brought to mind such tragedies as the Columbine High School massacre that killed 15 in 1999 and the July shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 dead.

"You go to a movie theater in Aurora and all of a sudden your life is taken," Columbine Principal Frank DeAngelis said. "You're at a shopping mall in Portland, Ore., and your life is taken. This morning, when parents kissed their kids goodbye knowing that they are going to be home to celebrate the holiday season coming up, you don't expect this to happen."

He added: "It has to stop, these senseless deaths."

Obama's comments on the tragedy amounted to one of the most outwardly emotional moments of his presidency.

"The majority of those who died were children — beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old," Obama said.

He paused for several seconds to keep his composure as he teared up and wiped an eye. Nearby, two aides cried and held hands as they listened to Obama.

"They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, wedding, kids of their own," Obama continued about the victims. "Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children."

</
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Ligonier Township police officer killed in wrong-way crash; K-9 injured
  2. Starkey: Pirates’ trade of Snider still reeks
  3. Pittsburgh police searching for man who robbed bank in Deutschtown
  4. Penguins seek minority-owned firm to build Hill District residences
  5. West Virginia offensive lineman charged with burglary
  6. Pitt names associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion
  7. Duquesne man fatally struck by vehicle in McKeesport
  8. 2015 Allegheny County Summer Concert Series announced
  9. Teen killed when car strikes Monongahela building
  10. Rostraver man arraigned on murder charge
  11. Dispute over iconic McKeesport lounge headed back to court