Police, world wonder about shooting motive - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Police, world wonder about shooting motive

Posted:

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - The massacre of 26 children and adults at a Connecticut elementary 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, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims.

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

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.

Lanza shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, 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. Friday, law enforcement officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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, 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.

The well-liked principal, Dawn Hochsprung, was believed to be among the dead. A woman who worked at the school was wounded. An update on victims' identities was planned Saturday morning.

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 it.

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 official said investigators were unable to establish any connection so far between her and the school.

Lanza's older brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, of Hoboken, N.J., was 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."

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 eventually for autopsies.

The shooter took three guns into the school - a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols, and a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle, according to an official who was not authorized to discuss information with reporters and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The weapons were registered to his slain mother.

Adam 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.

Lanza's 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 General Electric.

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 and remembered him for his alternative style. "He just said he was very thin, very remote and was one of the goths," she said.

Adam 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 Adam 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."

An official who spoke on condition of anonymity said it was not clear that Adam Lanza had a job, and there was no indication of law enforcement interviews or search warrants at a place of business.

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, a picturesque New England community of 27,000 people, as well as across the country and around the world.

"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 nationwide parliamentary elections. In China, which has seen several knife rampages at schools in recent years, the attack quickly consumed public discussion.

At the Newtown vigil, Anthony Bloss, whose three daughters survived, said they are doing better than he. "I'm numb. I'm completely numb," he said.

The gunman entered the school through its front door, and authorities are looking into the possibility that he shattered glass next to it to get in, said Newtown Police Lt. George Sinko.

Panicked parents looking for their children raced to Sandy Hook, a kindergarten-through-fourth-grade school where police told youngsters 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, many looking frightened - were escorted through a parking lot in a line, hands on one another's shoulders.

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 News.

"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."

----------------------------------------

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - A man opened fire Friday inside two classrooms at the Connecticut elementary school where his mother was a teacher, killing 26 people, including 20 children, as youngsters cowered in corners and closets and trembled helplessly to the sound of shots reverberating through the building.

The 20-year-old killer, carrying two handguns, committed suicide at the school, and another person was found dead at a second scene, bringing the toll to 28, authorities said.

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

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 left 33 people dead in 2007.

Panicked parents looking for their children raced to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, a prosperous community of about 27,000 people 60 miles northeast of New York City. Youngsters at the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade school were told to close their eyes by police as they were led from the building.

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

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

Youngsters and their parents described teachers locking doors and ordering the children to huddle in the corner or hide in closets when shots echoed through the building. Authorities didn't say exactly how the shootings unfolded.

They also gave no details on the victim discovered at another scene, except to say that the person was an adult found dead by police while they were investigating the gunman.

A law enforcement official identified the gunman as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, the son of a teacher. A second law enforcement official said his mother, Nancy Lanza, was presumed dead.

Adam Lanza's older brother, 24-year-old Ryan, of Hoboken, N.J., was being questioned.

The law enforcement official who said Adam Lanza had a possible personality disorder said Ryan Lanza had been extremely cooperative, was not believed to have any involvement in the rampage and was not under arrest or in custody, but investigators were still searching his computers and phone records. Ryan Lanza told law enforcement he had not been in touch with his brother since about 2010.

All three law enforcement officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the unfolding investigation.

The gunman drove to the school in his mother's car, the second official said. 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.

State police Lt. Paul Vance said 28 people in all were killed, including the gunman, and one person was injured.

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 was in the school and 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 fine.

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.

Varga said he tried to kick out an air-conditioning unit in the window so the five teachers in the room could escape, but he only managed to knock out the wood next to it, and the space wasn't big enough for all of them to squeeze through.

He said he smelled gun smoke in the halls as he ran out to escape through a door. Varga then went around to help three other teachers climb out of the window of the first-floor room they had been in.

Mergim Bajraliu, 17, 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 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 traumatized," he said.

Mary Pendergast, who lives close to the school, 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, 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," 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 only 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 young infant inside and a bag that appeared to have toys and stuffed animals.

"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.

The shootings instantly brought to mind episodes such 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. I think as a society, we need to come together. 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."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NEWTOWN, Connecticut (WXOW) - A Connecticut State Police spokesperson says that 28 people are dead following a shooting at an elementary school and another location Friday morning.

The spokesperson says that 20 of the victims are children, along with six adults and the apparent shooter are those that were found dead at Sandy Hook Elementary, about 60 miles from New York City.  Two of the children died at an area hospital. 

A law enforcement official tells the Associated Press that the shooter was 20-year-old Adam Lanza.  His brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, originally identified as the possible shooter, is being questioned by police.  

Authorities haven't said whether Adam Lanza was killed by law enforcement or took his own life.

According to police, Lanza brought in a total of four weapons into the school including at least one handgun and a rifle.

One of the adult victims is believed to be his mother, who was a teacher at the school.  The shootings took place in two classrooms, one of which was the mother's. 

Police also say that another adult was found dead at a second scene.  It is believed by authorities that that person was killed first, then Lanza went to the school.  

------------------------------------------------

NEWTON, Conn. (WXOW) -- ABC News is now confirming the gunman in Friday morning's elementary school shooting in Connecticut is Ryan Lanza from New Jersey.

ABC News is also citing a source as saying Lanza's mother worked at the school and is among the dead.

They are also citing reports of possible other locations where Lanza was at prior to the school shootings that may involve additional shootings.

-----------------------------------

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- An official with knowledge of a shooting at a Connecticut elementary school says 27 people are dead, including 18 children.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way.

Another official, speaking on condition of anonymity for the same reason, says the gunman is among the dead.

The killings happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, about 60 miles northeast of New York City.

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

Photos from the scene showed 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.

----------------------------------------------

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- Family members are relaying what children told them about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

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

He says the shooting is alarming because his family always considered Newtown to be the safest place in America.

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

------------------------------------------------

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- Official with knowledge of Conn. school shooting: 27 dead, including 18 children.

----------------------------------

NEWTOWN, Connecticut (WXOW) -- ABC News is now reporting that more than a dozen persons, including children, have been shot and killed at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Federal and state law enforcement sources just confirmed that information.

The Associated Press is citing an official with knowledge of the investigation as saying the gunman in Friday's elementary school shooting in Connecticut has been killed.

Connecticut State Police previously said they are assisting local police in Newtown, CT. in response to the shooting.

-------------

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- An official with knowledge of the situation says a gunman at the center of a school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has been killed.

The official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way says the man apparently had two guns.

A dispatcher at the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps says a teacher has been shot in the foot and taken to Danbury Hospital, but it's unclear whether there are other injuries.

Ambulance surrounded Sandy Hook Elementary School in western Connecticut and parents were running toward the building as a helicopter flew overhead.

The superintendent's office says the district has locked down schools.

State police say Newtown police called them at about 9:40 a.m. about the shooting reports.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WXOW. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Theresa Wopat at 507-895-9969. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.