20 children shot dead at school

Written By komlim puldel on Sabtu, 15 Desember 2012 | 20.01

Ana Marquez-Greene, aged six, died in hospital after being shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Picture: Twitter Source: Supplied

AT LEAST 28 people, including 20 children, have been killed in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, in western Connecticut. Updates here as they come to hand. All times are AEDT.

11.55pm The police are about to start releasing the names of the dead, in a press conference due to start any minute on a cold morning in Newtown.

Around the town, many are creating makeshift tributes to the lost. Local New York Times writer Emily Rueb posted this picture, of a simple farewell message in the window of the Blue Colony Diner.

A makeshift tribute to the dead, in the window of Newtown's Blue Colony Diner. Picture: rueby.tumblr.com Source: Supplied

As hundreds stand outside St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, which was filled to capacity, a couple embrace during a healing service held in for victims of an elementary school shooting. Picture: AP

11.20pm The first names of the 20 children murdered by Adam Lanza have been identified. The two girls and boy  were all six-years-old.

10:52 pm Slain Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung was always ready with a smile and "passionately" dedicated to the children of her school, shocked community members have said.

Hochsprung, who had just enrolled in a PhD program in education, was shot dead by alleged shooter Adam Lanza.

A younger photo of Adam Lanza, the suspect involved in the shooting of 26 people. Picture: Screen grab from ABC

"She was really nice and very fun, but she was also very much a tough lady in the right sort of sense," Tom Prunty, a friend with a niece at the primary school, told CNN. "She was the kind of person you'd want to be educating your kids. And the kids loved her.

"Even little kids know when someone cares about them, and that was her," he said.

10:33pm The shooter in the Sandy Hook masscare, Adam Lanza, had a form of autism but was seen as "a genius" by neighbours, CNN reports.

As the Newtown shooting nightmare unfolds, the parents and colleagues of school shooting victims struggle to comprehend. Fox WTIC

A family member told law enforcement officials Lanza had a mild form of autism. Police said he had no prior criminal record.

"You could definitely tell he was a genius," Lanza's high school classmate Alex Israel told CNN, adding she hadn't talked with him since middle school. "He was really quiet, he kept to himself."

Other former classmates and neighbours, who are shocked by the tragedy, described him as "a nice kid, very polite".

Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn. (AP Photo/Eliza Hallabeck): NEWTOWN BEE

A woman comforts a young girl during a vigil service for victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown, Conn. (AP Photo/Andrew Gombert, Pool) Source: AP

9.32pm David Connors, the father of three triplets at the school, said at a vigil that his children were taken into a closet during the lockdown.

"My son said he did hear some gunshots, as many as 10," he said. "The questions are starting to come out. 'Are we safe? Is the bad guy gone?'"

A woman waits to hear about her sister, a teacher, following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Picture: AP

Tracy Hoekenga said that she was paralyzed with fear for her two boys, fourth-grader C.J. and second grader Matthew.

"I couldn't breathe. It's indescribable. For a half an hour, 45 minutes, I had no idea if my kids were OK," she said.

9.01pm Parents are reportedly to be called in one by one to positively identify the bodies of children inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In this photo provided by the Newtown Bee, Connecticut State Police lead children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School after a reported shooting. Picture: AP/Newtown Bee/Shannon Hicks

Reuters deputy social media editor Matthew Keys tweeted the news saying he heard it on WNBC.

8.33pm Monsignor Robert Weiss after a vigil at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown, said that six or seven kids who had attended the church were among the 20 children who died.

"I think the families are very broken," he said. "I'm sure that they're still wondering and questioning. I think some of them are still hoping that this really didn't happen. The rough days are just ahead of them."

Columbine lead investigator Rich Marianos speaks out on CT school shooting. Fox News

7.05pm Victoria Soto has been revealed as one of the teachers who died in the line of fire as she saved her students in the Connecticut shooting. Mary Sherlach has also been identified as the psychologist who was killed in the shooting with principal Dawn Hochsprung.

6pm Sandy Hook Elementary School and Nancy Lanza's home are still in lockdown, being treated as crime scenes, while a police investigation continues and the medical identification of the victims is underway.

5.50pm Details have emerged about Adam Lanza's family life, from a former nieghbour who spoke to the Washington Post. His parents, Nancy and Peter Lanza, separated about a decade ago, and his mother, raised their sons, Adam and Ryan Lanza, according to Ryan Kraft.

Kraft recalled their divorce had an impact on him. When Nancy would go out to dinner with friends, she sometimes relied on Kraft to watch Adam Lanza, who was too boisterous for Ryan Lanza to manage.

"He would have tantrums," Kraft said. "They were much more than the average kid [had]." Yet he was not prone to violence, Kraft said.

"The kids seemed really depressed" by the breakup, Kraft said.

Ryan Lanza, the 24-year-old brother of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza, is escorted by police into a cruiser in Hoboken, N.J. Picture: WCBS-TV

5.38pm The US premiere of the Tom Cruise action movie Jack Reacher has been postponed following the deadly Connecticut school shooting. Paramount Pictures said "out of honour and respect for the families of the victims'' the premiere won't take place on Saturday in Pittsburgh, where Jack Reacher was filmed.

4.58pm Children who were evacuated from the school are being comforted with their parents at a firehouse where, outside, an American flag flies at half-staff.

Sign our legacy book for victims of the Connecticut shooting.

Counselors such as Rabbi Shaul Praver are helping them cope with the event, which has left them grief-stricken. Some suffered from "terrible anxiety," Praver told CNN.

"My heart is in a million pieces for those families," said mother Lynn Wasik. "Who could do something like this? It's just sickening."

Police have spoken about the latest shooting to rock the US

4.15pm Police radios crackled with first word of the shooting at 9.36am. "Sandy Hook School. Caller is indicating she thinks there's someone shooting in the building," a Newtown dispatcher radioed.

Follow the audio of Police and first responders as they communicate from the scene of a mass shooting in Connecticut. CBS News

3.44pm Former Sandy Hook pupil and Newtown local Lily Holmes says she has fond memories of the hero music teacher Maryrose Kristopik who helped rescue 15 children from the horror shooting.

Parents leave a staging area after being reunited with their children following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Picture: AP

3.32pm Aimee Seaver, the mother of a first-grade girl at Sandy Hook, told CNN's Anderson Cooper that her children are having trouble coping.

"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 seven-year-old."

How parents can talk to their children about the shooting.

3.28pm Janet Vollmer, a kindergarten teacher at the school, says she locked her classroom doors and - to keep her students calm - read them a story.

Vollmer, her 19 students and the adult helpers in her classroom were not injured, CNN reports.

"You could hear what sounded like pops, gunshots. Of course, I'm not going to tell that to five-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."

US President Barack Obama wipes away a tear as he speaks following the shooting in a Connecticut Elementary School. Picture: AFP

3.24pm A photo of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown has emerged.

2.58pm People have gathered for a prayer vigil at St Rose Church following an elementary school shooting in Newtown.

Others have gathered outside the White House in Washington, D.C., to participate in a vigil.

A shooter opened fire and killed multiple people at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, according to local media. Sarah Irwin reports.

2.25pm:   As the small community of Newtown held a vigil for the victims of the shooting, incredible tales of bravery by teachers emerged.

Music teacher Maryrose Kristopik was hailed a hero for barricading 15 children inside a closet as killer Adam Lanza stood outside.

Other teachers were also hailed for their calm response as gunshots reverberated around the school.

Parents leave a staging area after being reunited with their children following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Picture: AP

1.20pm: Alex Israel, who was a classmate of gunman Adam Lanza, described the killer as a "quiet loner"  who was "fidgety" and "kept to himself".

Speaking to CNN's Piers Morgan, Ms Israel said Lanza was a highly intelligent student - "above the rest of us".

But she said he was never violent.

State Police are on scene following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Picture: AP

12:40pm:  A classmate of gunman Adam Lanza described him as "just a kid - just a normal kid."

CBS interviewed the unnamed man on the streets of Newtown, and he said there was nothing about Lanza to suggest the 20-year-old would kill.

"I'm still in shock," the man said.

It's also emerged that the weapons used in the massacre were registered to Nancy Lanza, who was found dead in her home - making her the 28th victim of the shooting spree.

12:25pm:  The sounds of the shooting were broadcast over the school's PA system.

Theodore Varga said he was in a meeting with other fourth-grade teachers when he heard the gunfire, but there was no lock on the door.

He said someone turned on the public address system so that "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 went running around, warning people there was a gunman in the school, 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.

11.48am: ABC news in America has obtained a younger photo of Adam Lanza.

According to AP, his brother Ryan Lanza has been extremely cooperative during questioning with police, who is believed to have revealed that Adam suffers from a personality disorder and is "somewhat autistic". 

11:44am:  Latest reports say Adam Lanza, 20, was carrying a .223 rifle and two handguns when he entered the Sandy Hook Elementary school shortly after 9.30am local time (1230am AEDT) and started gunning people down - after he had killed his mother Nancy, 52, at her nearby home.

Witnesses say he was going from room-to-room shooting people after first killing the principal Dawn Hochsprung and psychologist execution-style in the main office.

10:50am:  A body found at the house of alleged gunman Adam Lanza, is his mother, Nancy, who was a teacher  at the school.

Lanza's were separated. It is understood the father is being interviewed by police but is not a suspect.

10.37am:  A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation of the Connecticut school massacre says the brother of the gunman has been ``extremely cooperative'' and is not under arrest.

The official told The Associated Press that Ryan Lanza, of Hoboken, New Jersey, is still be being questioned but is not in custody and is not believed to have any connection to the school killings.

But American television showed images of Ryan Lanza in handcuffs with police officers.

10.33am: More eyewitness reports continue including one 9-year-old who said he was in the gymnasium when the shooting erupted.

"We were in the gym, and I heard really loud bangs," said the boy, as he stood shivering and weeping outside the school with his father's arms draped around him, The New York Times reports.

"We thought that someone was knocking something over. And we heard yelling, and we heard gunshots. We heard lots of gunshots. We heard someone say, 'Put your hands up.''I heard, 'Don't shoot.'

"We had to go into the closet in the gym. Then someone came and told us to run down the hallway. There were police at every door. There were lots of people crying and screaming."

10.03am:  The Governor of Connecticut, Dan Malloy, has told a press conference: "Evil visited this community today."

"Earlier today, a tragedy of unspeakable terms played itself out in this community. You can never be prepared for this kind of incident. What has happened will leave a mark on this community. The perpetrator is dead, as is the person the perpetrator lived with," Mr Malloy said.

10:00am: CNN reports that the school had only recently upgraded its security system, including visual monitoring.

9.48am:  Eight-year-old Sofia Lebinski has told Fox News of the terror of being in a classroom during the shooting.

"I felt scared," the young girl said, adding "everyone was shaking."

Sofia told how after her class heard the first gunshots their teacher - Miss Martin - locked the door and called 911.

"We heard big bangs, like gunshots," Sofia said.

"Miss Martin locked the door and told us to go the corner and she called police and they came."

9.25am:  A young boy tells US television he heard bullets going past him before  a teacher pulled him into a classroom.

"It sounded like someone kicking the door," the  boy said.

A mother is interviewed thanking her child's teacher for saving her life.

A person walks into the information center at a rest stop in Danbury near the Connecticut-New York state line, where a U.S. flag is raised half-staff in honor of the people killed when a gunman opened fire inside a Connecticut elementary school, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) Source: AP

9.20am: A tentative timeline of events has been put together based on police statements and witness accounts.

CNN reports that at 9.30am local time (12.30am AEDT) the school principal, vice-principal, school psychologist and other staff were in a meeting.

At 9.40am, the gunman - dressed in black camouflage gear and military vest and armed with at least two weapons, entered the building. Almost immediately witnesses reported hearing heard shots.

At 9.41am, calls began coming into 911. The principal, vice-principal and psychologist go to investigate. Others hear more shots and shouts.

By 9.45am, children are being led to safety outside in various parts of the school. Police arrive at around 9.50am but by then the shooting had ceased.

9.03am:  Reports that the school principal, psychologist and four other adults were among the dead.

Connecticut State Police spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vance says police did not discharge their firearms. 

8.55am:  Police say there were very few non-fatal injuries reported, indicating that once targeted, there was rarely any chance of escape, and that the gunman was unusually accurate in his fire.

Lieutenant Paul Vance said the majority of killings "took place in one section of the school, in two rooms.''

The gunman was reported to be carrying at least two handguns.

Local media reported that the shooter began in the kindergarten section where he killed his teacher mother and her class, then moved on.

The child victims were reported to be aged between five and ten. 

People gather for a vigil outside the White House in Washington, DC, following the Connecticut elementary school shooting, December 14, 2012.AFP PHOTO/MLADEN ANTONOV Source: AFP

8.06am:  A father has told of his six-year old son's dramatic escape from a room when the gunman burst in and opened fire.

Robert Licata said his six-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.''

Licata said the shooter didn't say a word.

7.55am:  A law enforcement official said the suspect, now confirmed as Adam Lanza, was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and that his older brother was being held for questioning as a possible second shooter, AP reported.

The law enforcement official said the boys' mother, Nancy Lanza, worked at the school as a teacher and was presumed dead.

State police said 18 children were found dead at the school and two later were declared dead, and six adults were found dead at the scene.

They said the shootings occurred in one section of the school but did not give details. Police also said another person was dead at a second scene.

The law enforcement official also said Ryan Lanza's girlfriend and another friend were missing in New Jersey. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the source was not authorized to speak on the record about the developing criminal investigation.

Mourners gather inside the St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church at a vigil service for victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left at least 27 people dead, many of them young children, in Newtown, Connecticut, USA, 14 December 2012. AFP PHOTO / Pool / Andrew GOMBERT Source: AFP

According to the official, the suspect drove to the scene in his mother's car.
Three guns were found - a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols - and a .223-caliber rifle.

The rifle was recovered from the back of a car at the school, and the two pistols were recovered from inside the school.

7.18am: A tearful President Barack Obama makes live address to the US on the shooting, saying the nation will have to "come together to deal with this".

"Our hearts are broken today,'' he said, wiping his eyes during brief comments to reporters in one of the most emotional public moments of his presidency.

He said the children killed were 5 to 10 years old. He said the nation had been "through this too many times'' with recent mass shootings and has to come together to take meaningful action, "regardless of the politics.''

"We have endured too many of these tragedies over the years," Mr Obama said.

Wiping tears from his eyes, Mr Obama said he was speaking as a father.

He says US leaders must "take meaningful action'' regardless of politics in response to the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

The president teared up, at times using an index finger to wipe at the corner of his eyes, as he addressed the nation from the White House.

He also paused repeatedly as he struggled to keep his composure while speaking of the children - ages 5 to 10 - who had died and the life milestones they now would miss.

He said, quote, "Our hearts are broken.''

Shortly before speaking, Obama ordered that US flags be flown at half-staff on public grounds through Tuesday.

People gather for a prayer vigil at St Rose Church following an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, December 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel DUNAND Source: AFP

7.10am: Police say gunman's mother was  a teacher at the school and she was among the victims.

6.56am: A chilling account from a child at the school, told to the BBC by hairdresser Marcey Benitez:

"They heard shots, their teacher locked the door and threw the children in the closet. The man was kicking the door, saying 'let me in', they kept quiet, then police came."

Meanwhile, a neighbour at the nearby home police attended - where reportedly the body of a woman was found - says two brothers lived in the house, and they were "trouble".

6.50am: More eyewitnesses from the scene:

6.47am: A young child told CNN "there was like police officers down on the roof and in the hallways. They didn't really tell us anything.

"Everybody was like crying and stuff."

NBC, and a New York Times reporter, have reported that the gunman's mother was a kindergarten teacher at the school.

6.37am: There is still plenty of doubt over the identity of the shooter, despite several media sources giving a name. A man named Ryan Lanza, who lives in New Jersey and in Newtown, took to Facebook saying forcefully "it wasn't me".

6.30am: An eyewitness told CNN she was at the school and heard a "pop pop pop" in the hall.

The principal, vice principal and school psychologist went out to see what was happening.

Only the vice principal came back into the room, on his hands and knees and bleeding from his leg.

A parent of a student at the school, whose child was not shot, spoke to Associated Press:

"I could try to explain it, but I'm sure I would fail. There's no words that I could come up with that would even come close to describing the sheer terror of hearing that your son is in a place, or your child's in a place, where there's been violence. You don't know the details of that violence, you don't know the condition of your child and you can't do anything to immediately help them or protect them. It is a powerless and terrifying experience."

6.23am: The Connecticut Post is reporting that the death toll has risen to 29, including 22 children.

6.15am: CNN has identified the shooter as a man named Ryan Lanza.

Here is a timeline of the worst shooting massacres in the US.

President Obama and the state governor are said to be giving statements soon.

6.11am: A home nearby in Newtown was searched by police. Locals told Fox News a body was found inside the home, and there is unconfirmed speculation it is the body of the mother of the shooter.

Meanwhile, though the president said today was not the day to talk about gun control, Twitter is showing no such restraint.

"27 SHOT dead by GUN at CT elementary school, 14 r kids, & if I say our lawmakers & gun laws are killing us I'll be told now ain't the time," New Yorker staff writer Philip Gourevitch wrote.

"We know 27 people were shot and killed, including 18 kids. If this is not time to discuss gun control, when is??" tweeted progressive radio host Bill Press.

"If any other plague was leaving piles of dead bodies all over the country, including children, our country would figure it out," said New York Times media columnist David Carr.

6.05am: Several news sources are reporting that the shooter was a 20 year-old man "with ties to the school."

This appears to be the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. At Virginia tech the perpetrator, Seung-Hui Cho, killed 32 people and wounded many more, before committing suicide.

5.51am: State police spokesman Lt Paul Vance did not say that officers had confronted the gunman - which may suggest he was already dead when police arrived.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said today is not the day to discuss gun control.

"I think that day will come, but today's not that day, especially as we are awaiting more information about the situation," Mr Carney told reporters.

5.45am: The governor is on his way later and will give more information then, police say. Families of the deceased are being notified, and no more information on the dead - including the number - will be given at this time.

The public is no longer in danger. They are pursuing search warrants in the area, and in another state.

No questions were taken. That's all the information from the first press conference.

5.43am: A police press conference is under way. The first 911 call came at 9.30am, the officer says.

Both students and staff are among the dead.

The shooter is deceased inside the building.

5.42am: Mergim Bajraliu, 17, heard the gunshots echo from his home and raced to check on his 9-year-old sister at the school. He said his sister, who was fine, heard a scream come over the intercom at one point. He said teachers were shaking and crying as they came out of the building.

"Everyone was just traumatised," he said.

Richard Wilford's 7-year-old son, Richie, is in the second grade at the school. His son told him that he heard a noise that "sounded like what he described as cans falling."

The boy told him a teacher went out to check on the noise, came back in, locked the door and had the kids huddle up in the corner until police arrived.

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

5.40am: The White House says President Barack Obama has "enormous sympathy for families that are affected" by the shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Mr Obama was briefed on the shooting on Friday morning (about 0500 AEDT on Saturday).

Spokesman Jay Carney said the White House would "do everything we can to support state and local law enforcement".

Mr Carney would not confirm any details about the shooting. Officials with knowledge of the incident said 27 people, including 18 children, were killed.

The president was first informed about the incident by his counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, and will continue to receive regular updates throughout the day

5.38am: A second person is reportedly being questioned over the shooting, though their connection to the shooting is unclear.

Meanwhile a home in Newtown is being searched in connection with the shooting.

The shooting is said to have begun in the principal's office, and the start of the attack was heard across the school over the intercom system.

5.24am: A law enforcement official tells AP the attacker in the Connecticut school shootings is a 20-year-old man with ties to the school.

The official said that a gun used in the attacks is a .223-caliber rifle. The official also said that New Jersey state police are searching a location in that state in connection with the shootings, said by an official in Connecticut to have left 27 dead, including 18 children.

5.20am: One report says an entire kindergarten class is unaccounted for, and "may have been gunned down".

5.16am: Police converge on the home of the shooter, who was reportedly the father of one of the students at the school.

The shooter was dressed in black combat gear and a military vest, and had two guns. One of the weapons recovered from the scene included a 9mm semi-automatic handgun.

According to some reports a second person is in custody in connection with the attack.


The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way. Another official, speaking on condition of anonymity for the same reason, said the gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown was killed and apparently had two guns.

Stephen Delgiadice said his 8-year-old daughter heard two big bangs and teachers told her to get in a corner. His daughter was fine.

"It's alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America," he said.

The superintendent's office said the district had locked down schools in Newtown, about 60 miles northeast of New York City. Schools in neighbouring towns also were locked down as a precaution.

A dispatcher at the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps said a teacher had been shot in the foot and taken to Danbury Hospital. Andrea Rynn, a spokeswoman at the hospital, said it had three patients from the school but she did not have information on the extent or nature of their injuries.

State police said Newtown police called them around 9:40 a.m. A SWAT team was among the throngs of police to respond.

A photo posted by The Newtown Bee newspaper showed a group of young students - some crying, others looking visibly frightened - being escorted by adults through a parking lot in a line, hands on each other's shoulders.

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

"Everyone was just traumatised," he said.

The White House said President Barack Obama was notified of the shooting.

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