Added by Erik West on December 16, 2012
The Connecticut State Police investigation on Sunday found among the 20 children that were shot during Adam Lanza’s rampage on Friday, 12 were girls, 8 were boys and almost all of them were just 6 years old.
Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza, was shot in the face at her home in Newtown before Adam Lanza took a 0.223mm Bushmaster rifle, a Glock and Sig Sauer handgun – both semi-automatic – and drove to Sandy Hook Secondary School. Nancy Lanza did not have any connection to Sandy Hook Elementary school as was initially reported.
Once at the school Lanza, according to a statement by state Governor Malloy, defeated the school’s new security system and shot his way into the school.
“He was not voluntarily let into the school at all,” said Connecticut State Police, Lt. J. Paul Vance.
Earlier it was incorrectly reported that Lanza gained access to the school because he was recognized by staff.
“What we know is he shot his way into the building. He was not buzzed in. He penetrated the building by literally shooting an entrance into the building,” said Malloy in a press briefing.
Timelines have not yet been confirmed, however, District Superintendent Janet Robinson said as Lanza made his way to the classrooms where the children were killed, school principal Dawn Hochsprung and psychologist Mary Sherlach ran toward him, possibly in an effort to stop Lanza, when they both were shot. All six adult victims of the shooting were women.
Robinson on Saturday added, “The teachers were really, really focused on their students.”
Lanza is said to have shot all 14 children and their teacher, Lauren Rousseau, possibly in the first classroom he went into. Sources say the children and their teacher were huddled together when they were shot.
Lanza went into Victoria Soto’s classroom, where she worked as a teacher – her first year after working as a substitute teacher for a number of years. Soto is reported to have attempted to shield children in her classroom from Lanza. Soto, and another teacher in the classroom were both shot, and six children were shot as they tried to escape.
Reports of many acts of bravery are surfacing as the investigation continues. One teacher helped the children in her classroom escape through a window, and another hid children in a closet and stayed with them until the danger passed. One teacher even tried to distract the children in her class by having them colour, while another said “I love you” to the children in her class because, she said, it was possibly the last thing they might ever hear.
Recordings of radio transmissions by police as they responded to the initial 911 call where chilling. In one transmission, a dispatcher said, ”The individual I have on the phone indicates continuing to hear what he believes to be gunfire”.
Not long after the dispatcher said, the “shooting appears to have stopped.” Lanza reportedly shot himself as first responders arrived at the scene.
Reactions from officials and the general public from around the world offered condolences to the families of the victims and of the town. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, people put crosses into the sand to honour the dead; in Russia, people placed flowers outside the American embassy.
One parent, Robbie Parker, father of one of the victims, offered his sympathies to the Lanza family.
Robbie Parker’s daughter Emilie Parker, six years old, was killed in the shooting, yet Parker said – referring to the Lanza family – “I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you, and I want you to know that our family, and our love and support goes out to you as well.”
Among the questions being asked, is why did this happen. In a statement by Peter Lanza, father of Adam Lanza, also questioned what could have triggered this tragedy.
In a written state statement read by Connecticut State Police, Lt. J. Paul Vance during a press conference, Peter Lanza said, “Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those who were injured. 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.
We too are asking why. We have cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so. Like so many of you, we are saddened, but struggling to make sense of what has transpired.”
On Sunday, residents of Newtown, by the hundreds, attended church services and vigils seeking solace and trying to find a way to make sense of the tragedy that left so many young children dead.
School officials said there aren’t any immediate plans to reopen Sandy Hook Elementary; school staff are reportedly planning to gather at a high school on Monday to discuss the tragedy, and students are likely to be assigned to attend other schools in the region by Wednesday.