Twenty children dead in mass shooting at Connecticut elementary school

‘Our hearts are broken today’


Parents leave a staging area after being reunited with their children following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., about 96km northeast of New York City on Dec. 14, 2012. (Jessica Hill/AP)

Twenty-seven people are dead — 20 children, six adults and a gunman — after a mass shooting at a Connecticut school.

The shooting occurred Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., northeast of New York City.

CNN reports that the shooting started around 9:35 a.m. and a parent reported that there were about 600 children in the Kindergarten to Grade 4 school at the time of the shooting.

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Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance told reporters that both staff and students were among the dead. The principal and a guidance counselor were killed during the attack, a witness told CNN.

Photos from Sandy Hook Elementary School

In an address to the nation at 3:15 p.m., President Barack Obama confirmed that most of the dead were children, between the ages of five and 10.

The president paused and wiped his eye.

“They had their lives ahead of them. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own,” Obama said. “Our hearts are broken today, for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost.”

Obama said that there have been too many similar shootings during his time as president, including a shooting just last week at a mall in Portland, Oregon.

“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” Obama said. Though Obama didn’t call for any kind of tougher gun control, the White House said later that Obama supports a federal ban on assault weapons.

The adult gunman is among the dead, police confirmed. CNN later identified the man as Ryan Lanza. Later reports emerged saying that the shooter was actually Adam Lanza, 20, and that his brother, Ryan, was being questioned by police.

Reports said Adam Lanza was a quiet man who lived in Newtown and had no known criminal record.

Police said Friday they had a “tentative identification” of the shooter, but were not yet ready to make a public identification. Vance also said that police did not fire any shots when they responded to the 911 call at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

CBS News said Lanza’s mother was a teacher at the school and that she taught kindergarten in the class where most of the shooting occurred.

Police confirmed that the shooting did take place in one part of the school, though they did not say exactly where. “The shooting did take place in one section of the school, in two rooms,” Vance told reporters.

Two handguns were found beside the body of the shooter and there was another rifle in the gunman’s vehicle near the school, reports CBS.

Witnesses said the gunman was wearing combat gear when he entered the school.

CNN.com managing editor Meredith Artley spoke to a mother of one of the children in the school, who was in the school for a meeting about one of her children when the shooting occurred.

“Three people went out into the hall and only one person came back,” the mother told Artley. She reported hearing at least 100 rounds of shots as she hid under a table and called 911.

Vance confirmed that police are also investigating a secondary crime scene, where a body was found. The secondary crime scene is at a home in Newtown. CNN reports that the body found was that of Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza, and that Adam shot her at their family home before his deadly shooting spree at the school. Reports also say the guns used in the shooting were registered to Lanza’s mother.

Both the shooter and “an individual who the perpetrator lived with,” are dead, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy told reporters during a press conference Friday afternoon.

Initial reports said that the secondary crime scene was at a home in Hoboken, New Jersey. There was no body found at at that scene, but Adam’s brother, Ryan, as well as his father Peter Lanza, who is divorced from Nancy Lanza, were questioned.

During a second media update at 5 p.m. ET, Vance said that police, including members of a bomb squad, were investigating that second scene in Newtown. “We brought all of our assets in, in case they were needed,” he said.

Vance did not rule out the possibility of other suspects. He said Friday afternoon the investigation is in its early stages, and it will last into the night.

“There’s a great deal of work that needs to be done here at this school,” Vance said.

The identities of the young victims may be made available as soon as Saturday morning.

Vance said FBI counsellors have been brought in to help the first responders deal with what they saw.

“This was a very tragic, horrific scene that they encountered,” said Vance.

The local hospital is also offering counselling to anyone who might need it.

“This is most definitely the worst thing that we have experienced here in town. It’s tragic,” said Newtown Police Department Lt. George Sinko.

The number of dead makes this mass shooting one of the worst in American history, second only to the Virgina Tech shooting, where 32 people died. And it’s something Gov. Malloy told reporters he never thought he would witness during his public career.

“Evil visited this community today and it’s still too early to speak of recovery,” Malloy said. “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 in order to overcome this event. We will get through it.”

Canadian politicians offered their sympathies Friday afternoon, with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird saying:

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to our friends and neighbours in Connecticut, where dozens of people are reported dead, including children.

“Canadians mourn this loss of so many innocent lives to this senseless act of violence.

“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer our sincere condolences and we stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends at this difficult time.”

Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair said: “The images of pain and fear that we see today are difficult to comprehend. Schools are meant to be safe environments where children learn, grow and are nurtured. To see so many children targeted like this an affront to everything we hold dear.

“There will be time to debate what went wrong and how such a tragedy can be prevented. But today, New Democrats join Canadians in expressing our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims—and in hugging our own children a little tighter.”

See all Macleans.ca coverage of the Newtown shooting.

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Twenty children dead in mass shooting at Connecticut elementary school

  1. seriously, no comments?

    • Everyone is too horrified – what are you supposed to say? This just turns your stomach and makes you sick. Absolutely mortified. #RestInPeace

  2. The earth is not spinning any more because of the children killed in the incident ,It seems like nothing else is happening in the world , they should take all those guns from America and send them to Syrian rebels, each gun must be signed and autographed by Hillary Clinton and Obama when they kill children in Syria Hillary can clap an cheer because that would be a good use of these guns and rebels will be so happy that the guns have been sent by the kind and compassionate for the right kind of killing that will bring glory and power and love of Hillary Clinton . those guns kill 18 or 1800 it will barely make news and media will get more time to focus on economy and Holocaust.

  3. I can understand a student who’s been tormented and bullied all of his life, shoot up his high school, but a grown man killing a bunch of children boggles my mind

  4. There are no words for what has happened today. Taking away the guns– the criminals know how and where to get them. More money for mental health in the US and Canada may help a bit. Violent video games for young people abolished– again if they want them they will get them. It is not one thing but a series of many things. My sympathies and thoughts to the whole town and epecially those families that lost a family member today.

    • Violent video games have nothing to do with this. This individual was obviously disturbed. I play a lot of violent video games and watch lots of violent movies, as do most of my friends, but non of us have the desire to go and shoot a bunch of innocent children. Because MOST of us know the difference between reality and fiction. This man had issues, regardless if he played violent video games or not. This man should not of had access to firearms.

      • i totally agreed with u bunnydroppings,that’s just a seli excuse it

    • So you support banning violent video games but not tightening up gun laws? Just so we’re all clear, your position is that protecting people from a hypothetical psychological harm is more important than protecting them from a source of actual, physical harm?

    • I agree this is sad but you have to think theys people wont go get help so mentle heath improvement wont work, If you get ride of guns they will use knives althow they
      should tightning gun laws, Alot of young people play violent video games me included but do you think young people are stuped anufe to learn that you should kill people.

      • regarding the use of knives: in china on the same day, a guy went after 22 schoolchildren with a knife.

        Death toll = ZERO.

        YES, guns kill ppl!

  5. sad indeed , alot of people tend to forgot that this happens everyday around the world . kids being killed for no reason or senseless reasons including countries that the states has lets say worked . regardless still senseless and sad

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    • fed Johnson you are a fool! U need to go back to school cuz u are uneducated bastard.what u want him to do? Wake up the dead kids maybe? Idiot.

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  8. Doctor yesterday you are a total imbicile to condone any type of shooting …bullying does not make it ok it kill ANYONE! You uneducated fool!!!

    • Calm down. Saying “I can understand” is not the same thing as condoning.

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    • *hear

  10. your hearts are broken, eh? but clearly not broken enough to do what it needed to try and prevent this from happening again – CONTROL ACCESS TO GUNS.

    yes, sure – criminals will still have them but you know what? anyone with an unlicensed, unregistered gun is a criminal and the cops can stop wasting time and departmental budgets harassing legitimate, responsible gun owners.

    the numbers speak for themselves: canada gun homicide rate: 0.56 vs US gun homicide rate: 3.7

    • The weapon used WAS a registered firearm. Registered to the mother, I believe….

  11. Thomas Mulcair said: “New Democrats join Canadians in expressing
    our heartfelt condolences” The guy is a political turd. Seriously… a political party offers condolences.

  12. “The president paused and wiped his eye”

    He is so compassionate. But he had no tears for Brian Terry in the botched Fast and Furious gun running deal; he put together. He has no tears for the many Mexicans killed in that. And he has no tears for the Americans killed in Bengazzi, in which he had hours to send in support to save them.

  13. Gun control not the answer, Norway has tight gun control and one of the worst shooting ever. Gun culture and 15 minutes of fame attitude more of the problem.

  14. Why have we not heard a public message of condolence on the Newtown shootings from Prime Minister Harper, on behalf of Canada? Shameful! Is he afraid of re-opening discussion of gun control and the unacceptable dismantling of the gun registry in Canada? There can be no defence for the horror that occurred in Newtown, at the hands of yet another individual equipped with an arsenal of guns that were all too available to him.

  15. One day the USA will grow up, become an adult among nations and forego its frontier mentality. It will end its ‘right to bear arms’ obsession and place it in the historical records where it belongs. However, there is no sign this maturing will occur in the forseeable future so the killings, the grief, the predictable temporary soul-searching, will happen again and again, and nothing will change.

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