NEWTOWN, Conn. The gunman in the Connecticut shooting rampage shot his mother multiple times in the head before going to the school and gunning down 26, and he committed suicide as first responders closed in, authorities said Sunday, raising the specter that Adam Lanza had planned an even more gruesome massacre and was stopped short.
Lanza blasted his way into the building and used a high-power rifle to kill 20 children and 6 adults, including the principal who tried to stop him, authorities said.
Connecticut state police say multiple 30-round magazines and hundreds of bullets found at the elementary school where 26 were killed.
As President Barack Obama prepared a visit and churches opened their doors to comfort a grieving town Sunday, federal agents fanned out to dozens of gun stores and shooting ranges across Connecticut, chasing leads they hoped would cast light on Lanza’s life.
Among the questions: Why did his mother, a well-to-do suburban divorcee, keep a cache of high-power weapons in the house? What experience did Lanza have with those guns? And, above all, what set him on a path to go classroom-by-classroom, massacring 6- and 7-year-olds?
Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Gov. Dannel Malloy said Lanza shot himself as police entered the building.
“We surmise that it was during the second classroom episode that he heard responders coming and apparently at that, decided to take his own life,” Malloy said.
Malloy offered no possible motive for the shooting and a law enforcement official has said police have found no letters or diaries left behind that could shed light on it.
All six adults killed at the school were women. Of the 20 children, eight were boys and 12 were girls.
Parents identified the children through photos to spare them some shock, Carver said.
The terrible details about the last moments of young innocents emerged as authorities released their names and ages — the youngest 6 and 7, the oldest 56.
The tragedy has plunged Newtown into mourning and added the picturesque New England community of 27,000 people to the grim map of towns where mass shootings in recent years have periodically reignited the national debate over gun control but led to little change.
The rifle used was a Bushmaster .223-caliber, according to an official with knowledge of the investigation who was not authorized to speak about it and talked on condition of anonymity. The gun is commonly seen at competitions and was the type used in the 2002 sniper killings in the Washington, D.C., area. Also found in the school were two handguns, a Glock 10 mm and a Sig Sauer 9 mm.
A law enforcement official said Saturday that authorities were investigating fresh leads that could reveal more about the lead-up to the shooting. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Ginger Colbrun, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said earlier there was no evidence Lanza was involved in gun clubs or had trained for the shooting. When reached later in the day and asked whether that was still true, she said, “We’re following any and all leads related to this individual and firearms.”
Dean Price, director of the Wooster Mountain State Range — a shooting range in Danbury — said two ATF agents visited the range Friday night and stayed into the early morning looking through thousands of names on sign-in logs.
He said that he had never seen Adam or Nancy Lanza there and that agents told him they did not find their names on the sign-in sheets.
Law enforcement officials have said they have found no note or manifesto from Lanza of the sort they have come to expect after murderous rampages such as the Virginia Tech bloodbath in 2007 that left 33 people dead.
Education officials said they had found no link between Lanza’s mother and the school, contrary to news reports that said she was a teacher there. Investigators said they believe Adam Lanza attended Sandy Hook many years ago, but they had no explanation for why he went there Friday.
Authorities said Adam Lanza had no criminal history, and it was not clear whether he had a job. Lanza was believed to have suffered from a personality disorder, said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Another law enforcement official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger’s, a mild form of autism often characterized by social awkwardness.
People with the disorder are often highly intelligent. While they can become frustrated more easily, there is no evidence of a link between Asperger’s and violent behavior, experts say.
The law enforcement officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the unfolding investigation.