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Connecticut school victims shot by rifle multiple times

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published December 15, 2012 at 9:34 a.m. Updated December 15, 2012 at 3:04 p.m.

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Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police conducts a news briefing, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims.

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Some of the deadliest school shootings in the U.S. (AP)

  • Dec. 14, 2012: 20-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where he killed 20 children and six adults with a high-power rifle before taking his own life. The investigation revealed that Lanza had also killed his mother shortly before the shooting at the school.
  • April 2, 2012: A gunman killed seven people in a rampage at a California Christian university. Jongjin Kim, the Oikos University, said the suspect, One Goh, was angry because administrators refused to grant him a full tuition refund after he dropped out of the nursing program.
  • Feb. 27, 2012: Three students were killed and two wounded in a shooting spree that started in a school cafeteria in Chardon, Ohio, as students waited for buses to other schools. Police have charged T.J. Lane, who was 17 at the time, as an adult.
  • Feb. 14, 2008: Former student Steven Kazmierczak, 27, opened fire in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., fatally shooting five students and wounding 18 others before committing suicide.
  • April 16, 2007: Seung-Hui Cho, 23, fatally shot 32 people in a dorm and a classroom at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, then killed himself.
  • Oct. 2, 2006: Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, shot to death five girls at West Nickel Mines Amish School in Pennsylvania, then killed himself.
  • March 21, 2005: Jeffrey Weise, 16, shot and killed five schoolmates, a teacher and an unarmed guard at a high school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota before taking his own life. Weise had earlier killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s companion.
  • Oct. 28, 2002: Robert Flores Jr., 41, who was flunking out of the University of Arizona nursing school, shot and killed three of his professors before killing himself.
  • March 5, 2001: Charles “Andy” Williams, 15, killed two fellow students and wounded 13 others at Santana High School in Santee, Calif.
  • April 20, 1999: Students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves in the school’s library.
  • May 21, 1998: Two teenagers were killed and more than 20 people hurt when Kip Kinkel, 17, opened fire at a high school in Springfield, Ore., after killing his parents.
  • March 24, 1998: Andrew Golden, 11, and Mitchell Johnson, 13, killed four girls and a teacher at a Jonesboro, Ark., middle school. Ten others were wounded in the shooting.
  • Dec. 1, 1997: Three students were killed and five wounded at a high school in West Paducah, Ky. Michael Carneal, then 14, later pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder and is serving life in prison.
  • Oct. 1, 1997: Luke Woodham, 16, of Pearl, Miss., fatally shot two students and wounded seven others after stabbing his mother to death. He was sentenced the following year to three life sentences.

— All the victims of the Connecticut elementary school shooting were killed up close by multiple rifle shots, a medical examiner said.

Dr. H. Wayne Carver said at a news conference Saturday the deaths are classified as homicides. He said he believes “everybody was hit more than once.”

“This is a very devastating set of injuries,” Carver said.

Friday’s massacre of 26 children and adults at the school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, a 20-year-old described as brilliant but remote, was driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims.

Investigators were trying to learn more about Adam Lanza and questioned his older brother, who was not believed to have been involved in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary. Police shed no light on the motive for the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

In tight-knit Newtown on Friday night, hundreds of people packed St. Rose of Lima Church and stood outside in a vigil for the 28 dead — 20 children and six adults at the school, the gunman’s mother at home, and the gunman himself, who committed suicide. People held hands, lit candles and sang “Silent Night.”

“These 20 children were just beautiful, beautiful children,” Monsignor Robert Weiss said. “These 20 children lit up this community better than all these Christmas lights we have. ... There are a lot brighter stars up there tonight because of these kids.”

Lanza is believed to have suffered from a personality disorder and lived with his mother, said a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation. Authorities said he had no criminal history.

Asked at a news conference whether Lanza had left any emails or other writings that might explain the rampage, state police Lt. Paul Vance said investigators had found “very good evidence” and hoped it would answer questions about the gunman’s motives. Vance would not elaborate.

However, another law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that investigators have found no note or manifesto of the sort they have come to expect after murderous rampages.

The tragedy plunged the picturesque New England town of 27,000 people into mourning.

“People in my neighborhood are feeling guilty about it being Christmas. They are taking down decorations,” said Jeannie Pasacreta, a psychologist who volunteered her services and was advising parents struggling with how to talk to their children.

Lanza shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, drove to the school in her car with at least three of her guns, and opened fire in two classrooms around 9:30 a.m. Friday, authorities said.

A custodian ran through the halls, warning of a gunman, and someone switched on the intercom, perhaps saving many lives by letting them hear the chaos in the school office, according to a teacher. Teachers locked their doors and ordered children to huddle in a corner, duck under their desks or hide in closets as shots reverberated through the building.

Among those killed was the school’s well-liked principal, Dawn Hochsprung. Town officials said she died while lunging at the gunman in an attempt to overtake him. A woman who worked at the school was wounded.

Maryann Jacob, a clerk in the school library, was in there with 18 fourth-graders when they heard a commotion and gunfire outside the room. She had the youngsters crawl into a storage room, and they locked the door and barricaded it with a file cabinet. There happened to be materials for coloring, “so we set them up with paper and crayons.”

After what she guessed was about an hour, officers came to the door and knocked, but those inside couldn’t be sure it was the police.

“One of them slid his badge under the door, and they called and said, ‘It’s OK, it’s the police,”’ she said.

The district superintendent said she was told another teacher pushed students in the kiln room until police let them out.

Investigators believe Lanza attended the school several years ago but appeared to have no recent connection to it, a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said. It was not clear whether he held a job.

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

The law enforcement officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the unfolding investigation.

Lanza’s older brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, of Hoboken, N.J., was questioned, and investigators searched his computers and phone records, but he told law enforcement he had not been in touch with his brother since about 2010.

For about two hours late Friday and early Saturday, clergy members and emergency vehicles moved steadily to and from the school. The state medical examiner’s office said bodies of the victims would be taken there for autopsies.

The gunman forced his way into the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade school, authorities said. He took three guns into the school — a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both semiautomatic pistols, and a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle, according to an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The weapons were registered to his slain mother.

Lanza and his mother lived in a well-to-do part of prosperous Newtown, about 60 miles northeast of New York City, where neighbors are doctors or hold white-collar positions at companies such as General Electric, Pepsi and IBM.

His parents filed for divorce in 2008, according to court records. His father, Peter Lanza, lives in Stamford, Conn., and works as a tax director for GE.

The gunman’s aunt Marsha Lanza, of Crystal Lake, Ill., said her nephew was raised by kind, nurturing parents who would not have hesitated to seek mental help for him if he needed it.

“Nancy wasn’t one to deny reality,” Marsha Lanza said, adding her husband had seen Adam as recently as June and recalled nothing out of the ordinary.

Catherine Urso, of Newtown, said her college-age son knew the killer. “He just said he was very thin, very remote and was one of the goths,” she said.

Lanza attended Newtown High School, and several news clippings from recent years mention his name among the honor roll students.

Joshua Milas, who graduated from Newtown High in 2009 and belonged to the school technology club with him, said that Lanza was generally a happy person but that he hadn’t seen him in a few years.

“We would hang out, and he was a good kid. He was smart,” Joshua Milas said. “He was probably one of the smartest kids I know. He was probably a genius.”

The mass shooting is one of the deadliest in U.S. history, and among school attacks is second in victims only to the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, which left 33 people dead, including the gunman. Reaction was swift and emotional in Newtown and beyond.

“It has to stop, these senseless deaths,” said Frank DeAngelis, principal of Colorado’s Columbine High School, where a massacre in 1999 killed 15 people.

In Washington, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence organized a vigil at the White House, with some protesters chanting, “Today IS the day” to take steps to curb gun violence. In New York’s Times Square, a few dozen people held tea lights in plastic cups, with one woman holding a sign that read: “Take a moment and candle to remember the victims of the Newtown shooting.”

President Barack 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 at a White House news briefing. He paused for several seconds to keep his composure as he teared up and wiped an eye. Nearby, two aides cried and held hands.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard described the attack as a “senseless and incomprehensible act of evil.”

“Like President Obama and his fellow Americans, our hearts too are broken,” Gillard said in a statement.

In Japan, where guns are severely restricted and there are extremely few gun-related crimes, the attack led the news two days before parliamentary elections. In China, which has seen several knife rampages at schools in recent years, the attack quickly consumed public discussion.

In Newtown, 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.

Kaitlin Roig, a teacher at the school, said she implored her students to be quiet.

“I told them we had to be absolutely quiet. Because I was just so afraid if he did come in, then he would hear us and just start shooting the door. I said we have to be absolutely quiet. And I said there are bad guys out there now and we need to wait for the good guys to come get us out,” Roig told ABC.

“If they started crying, I would take their face and say, ‘It’s going to be OK. Show me your smile,”’ she said. “They said, ‘We want to go home for Christmas. Yes, yeah. I just want to hug my mom.’ Things like that, that were just heartbreaking.”

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Populist says... December 15, 2012 at 11:13 a.m.

The aunt is a nut. Nice nurturing people don't fail to seek help for their "remote" 20 year old goth son who is unemployed and not enrolled in school, and they don't keep automatic weapons around. The two brothers had not spoken in two years? Yes, they are just the all American family.

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Bart says... December 15, 2012 at 2:06 p.m.

Unfortunately, the family structure has been dismantled. Where both parents were present to share responsibilities we now have single parent households. In many of these cases the parent is also employed leaving kids without home supervision. The parent,usually a mom, runs herself ragged trying to earn a living, do all the household chores, etc. Kids need to learn and be taught to work by doing chores, helping out. Teen boys should, could, wash the car, mow the lawns, take out the garbage, etc. Teen girls are quite capable of the same, or housework. The parents just give up and do it themselves rather than fight with the kids. In many cases, no one does these things mommy (or daddy) just escapes to ...somewhere, leaving the kids to fend for themselves and play with their digital toys. Teenagers are impulsive and sometimes act out in bizzare and deadly ways. This is a simplification,yes, but freedom calls for responsibility. We need to take a hard look at nanny state policies and make some badly needed changes. Work hurts nobody. Idleness can be deadly.

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RBBrittain says... December 15, 2012 at 3:33 p.m.

How is it that the victims all had "multiple rifle shots", yet allegedly the gunman only carried PISTOLS into the school? The one rifle he reportedly had was IN HIS CAR. Something is NOT adding up here...

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Populist says... December 15, 2012 at 5:08 p.m.

RB Britain,

They are now saying that he also had a rifle.

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... December 15, 2012 at 5:59 p.m.

"NEWTOWN, Conn. — All the victims of the Connecticut elementary school shooting were killed up close by multiple rifle shots, a medical examiner said.

Dr. H. Wayne Carver said at a news conference Saturday the deaths are classified as homicides. He said he believes “everybody was hit more than once.”"
~
This without an autopsies.
~
I smell a rat also RBB. Who said, "Never let a crises go to waste"?

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tawcat says... December 15, 2012 at 6:59 p.m.

Just not sure how weapons are falling into the hands of children. Someone said the guns were bought by mom. Guess she was afraid the kid was going to throw a tantrum! What happened to the "no you can't have a Red Ryder, you'll shoot your eye out?"

The guns are not at fault, it is the deliberate sick act. But while we are dealing with the shooting of 20 children, China is dealing with 22 children being slashed during a school disturbance. So if there is a will, there will be a way.

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FreeSpiritMan says... December 15, 2012 at 11:32 p.m.

RbBritain and Qui.....smonething isn't adding up because you two can't add. You two want to make political points out of tragedy.

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FreeSpiritMan says... December 15, 2012 at 11:47 p.m.

Qui.........On Fox News at 3:32 Pm the medical exaimner said autopsies had been completed and all were killed with the Bushmaster .223 rifle, you do watch and believe Fox News don't you?

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... December 16, 2012 at midnight

Bill you watch Fox News! LOL!

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Populist says... December 16, 2012 at 7:36 a.m.

Oui,

Yes, some of us "libs" watch the 24 hour Republican campaign commercial from time to time. Actually, some of their local news is good.

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