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Police Hope to ID Victims, Shooter in Newtown Killings Saturday

Connecticut state police say an investigation is underway to piece together what motivated the gunman that killed 20 children, six adults and himself Friday morning.

Update 8:20 a.m., Dec. 15

Newtown police say investigators do not have a motive for the gunman and will not release the shooter's name or the names of the children killed Friday. More information is with new developments from Newtown.

Update 8:08 p.m., Dec. 14

Saying officials will identify all victims in the mass killings at a Newtown elementary school — including the shooter, who took his own life — on Saturday, state police called the day’s shocking events “heart-wrenching.”

No parents have been given access to the inside of Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the bodies of 18 children, six adults and suspected gunman Adam Lanza remain, Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police said Friday night at a press conference. Two other children died after they were transported to a nearby hospital.

All family members of the deceased have been notified, Vance said.

A press conference is scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday, Vance said.

Vance spoke in general terms of the investigation into the shooter, whom multiple media outlets have identified as Lanza, citing police sources.

“At this point we are confident that we have the shooter,” Vance said.

All of the shooter’s relatives have been identified and contacted, Vance said. Lanza’s brother had been detained earlier in the day Friday, within hours of the shooting, which started at approximately 9:40 a.m. Their mother has been confirmed among those killed, as has the school’s principal, Dawn Hochsprung.

“I think what we have got to do is … look at all the history,” Vance said of the police investigation. “We will go backwards and hopefully stumble on answers.”

Update 7:10 p.m.

Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza, whose older brother had been detained by police in New Jersey earlier Friday, has been identified as the gunman in Newtown who killed 20 children, six adults and himself, according to the Huffington Post.

Citing multiple media outlets including CNN, the Huffington Post said many media organizations had relied on inaccurate information to report the shooter as Adam Lanza’s brother earlier in the day. As reported by Patch, the brother — Ryan Lanza — now is grieving not only for his brother but also their mother.

David Owens, a Hartford Courant reporter, said during a TV interview that police sources say other people outside of the school may also have been killed by the gunman.

Update 6:15 p.m.

Calling Friday morning’s fatal shootings of 27 people at a Newtown elementary school, including 20 children, “unspeakable” and “tragic,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said during a press conference moments ago that it’s too early to talk about recovery.

“What each parent, each sibling, each member of [affected families] has to understand is that in Connecticut we are all in this together to do whatever we can to overcome this event,” Malloy said. “We will get through it.”

Update 5:11 p.m.

State police confirmed that one person was responsible for the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults, saying the gunman has been tentatively identified but declining to identify the shooter.

“We will identify the shooter at an appropriate time,” Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police said during a 5 p.m. press conference Friday. “Just for our investigatory purposes it’s not appropriate right now.”

“We will leave no stone unturned as we are looking at every facet of this investigation,” Vance said, adding that police would hold another briefing around 6 p.m.

Vance confirmed that local, state and federal officials responded to the shocking incident in this normally peaceful southwestern Connecticut town, including an FBI crisis team. Counseling has been made available not only to affected families but also to first responders on scene.

“We provided counseling for the first responders, because this was a very tragic, horrific scene that we encountered,” Vance said.

The gunman shot and killed himself, Vance said.

Update: 3:50 p.m.

The actions of one gunman — 27 lives lost. 

"This is an active ongoing investigation" Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance said at an afternoon press conference Friday, updating the assembled media about the state of the investigation into the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Vance confirmed the death toll: 20 children, 6 adults, including the shooter, and one adult victim at a "secondary scene" in Connecticut.

But in response to multiple questions from press, Vance said at one point: "There are a lot of things we cannot confirm."

He did offer the beginning of a basic timeline, saying the first call came in at around 9:30 a.m.

"Officers immediately entered the school to search for students, faculty and staff and remove them," he said. "They did search every nook and cranny...Those who were rescued were taken to a staging area."

The school is now secure. Two rooms of the school appeared to be the gunman's focus. 

"It is not a simplistic scene," Vance said. "We will be here through the night and through the weekend. We are not putting a time stamp on this process."

The secondary local crime scene may well be this investigation in the Sandy Hook section, the only other known center of police investigation in Newtown right now.

Vance is expected to give another update in about an hour. 

Update: 3:38 p.m.

Patch exclusive: The man identified in media reports Friday as the shooter has told friends that he thinks his developmentally disabled brother may have committed the crime, Patch has learned.

A close friend of Ryan Lanza who would not be identified told Patch that he spoke to Lanza as Lanza made his way home from work to Hoboken. Lanza also took to his Facebook page to rail against CNN naming him as the suspect in the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

More links to Newtown Patch’s coverage here:

  • Shooting Prompts Religious Leaders to Host Special Prayer Services
  • Reaction: Sandy Hook School Shooting
  • Police Raid Sandy Hook Home Hours After Shooting
  • [PHOTOS] Newtown School Shooting

_________________________________________________________________________________________

“I’m on the bus home now, it wasn’t me,” Lanza wrote.

Lanza’s mother, Nancy, is believed to be among the dead. [Note: Nancy Lanza originally had been reported to be a teacher at the school, but that is not true, according to CNN.]

Patch was among the media outlets to highlight and link to reports naming Ryan Lanza as the alleged shooter. Police haven't yet officially confirmed the identity of the gunman.

Meanwhile President Barack Obama said that parents across the United States will hug their children a little tighter Friday night after the morning’s shocking shooting deaths of elementary school kids in Newtown, and he told the nation that it must “come together.”

During a press conference that ended moments ago, Obama said “our hearts are broken” for those that lost loved ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School during a tragedy whose cause and suspected perpetrators remain unclear.

“Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivor as well, as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early,” Obama said.

Update: 3:18 p.m.

Gov. Dannel Malloy is scheduled to hold a press conference at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Malloy, who met with parents, has received an offer of federal assistance from President Obama.

Original story:

Citing sources, the Associated Press is reporting the gunman who rampaged through the Sandy Hook Elementary School was armed with four guns including a high-powered rifle and is believed to have shot and killed up to 30 people including 18 children. The death toll could rise. 

Investigators have identified the gunman “as a man in his 20s from Connecticut and they are searching his father’s home in New Jersey,” according to WABC Channel 7. The hometown was not immediately identified. According to Connecticut State Police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance said the gunman was found dead inside the school.

Friday afternoon distraught parents continued to wait to be reunited with their children. After meeting with parents of the students, Gov. Dannel Malloy is now at the school. Authorities said much information will not be released until the relatives of the victims are notified.

Channel 7 also is reporting the President Obama has telephoned Malloy to express condolences and to offer any federal assistance needed in the investigation of the shooting that was first reported to Newtown Police just before 9:30 a.m. Friday.

A fourth-grade student at Sandy Hook Elementary School said he and his classmates were “locked in a closet in the gym” to escape the gunman. In an interview with Channel 7, the student said, “the police came  and …. We ran to the firehouse.”

Update: 1:25 p.m.

Press conference is still at least an hour away, an official just told Patch.

Update: 1:20 p.m.

The community is in "sheer shock." Read our interviews with Newtown residents as they try to make sense of the violence.

Update: 1:00 p.m.

Citing an anonymous official "with knowledge" the Associated Press is reporting 27 people dead including 18 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The shooter is believed to be a single adult and is now dead.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy is in Newtown and a press conference set for 1 p.m. but hasn't yet begun. Patch is there. 

Original Story

Officials in Newtown say they're trying to reunite parents with their children in the wake of a shocking multiple shooting at an elementary school in the town’s Sandy Hook neighborhood.

First Selectman Pat Llodra told Patch that there is no information being released about the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting — only confirming that there was a shooting.

"I'm horrified, saddened and shocked that this happened in Newtown," Llodra said. "Our priorities right now are making sure everyone safe and reuniting parents with their children."

A reverse 911 call went out to all Newtown public school parents, NBC is reporting. Parents are converging all around the school seeking information about their children.

One mother of an 8-year-old girl at the school, Brenda Lebinski, told Patch that her daughter is safe thanks to one teacher's decision to move all kids into a closet when a gunman had entered the building.

Lebinski said that she had spoken to her daughter's teacher as well as a volunteer who was in the school at the time of the shooting, and that a masked gunman had shot adults in the school.

"My daughter's teacher is my hero," Lebinski said. "She locked all the kids in a closet and that saved their lives."

According to Lebinski, the school had been on lockdown but police started leading out children and faculty members by class, and several children had blood on their clothing as they were led out. It isn't clear how many kids are still inside the school. Parents continue to surround the area, seeking news of their children.

Christine Wilford, a parent of a seven-year-old boy at the school, told Patch that her son was out of the school and safe with her husband. A woman standing next to Wilford burst into tears, saying her own son was still inside.

Danbury Hospital has confirmed to TV reporters that three patients have been transported by ambulance.

The Hartford Courant is reporting multiple injured parties, saying a shooter had been in the building’s main office and an individual in one area had “numerous gunshot wounds,” police said.

State police reported shortly after 12 p.m. that officials from the state Medical Examiner's Office were en route to the scene.

At a fire station near the school that's serving as a staging area, a woman was being wheeled on a gurney as a helicopter circled overhead and armed officials from multiple state and federal agencies moved beyond a cordoned-off area swarmed by parents. Dozens of parents could be seen walking to the school as motor vehicle traffic snarled the area of Dickinson Drive.

Marilyn Gudsnuk, 52, of nearby Southbury said she heard 10 to 12 gunshots around 9:40 a.m. Gudsnuk, who attended the elementary school herself as a childhood, said she is taking care of a 91-year-old resident who lives across the street from the school.

"I took off running into the house," she said. "I didn't know what was happening. It was scary."

Asked whether she imagined a shooting could happen at her former school, Gudsnuk said, "Never in a million years."

"I just pray for these people," she said. "The anguish they are going through. And all because someone's not right in the head."

One man who identified himself as a cable worker and declined to give his name, told Patch that he was up on a utility pole at the time of the shooting. When he heard shots, the man said he thought they it was hunters, but then in a few minutes emergency response vehicles sped beneath his ladder.

Newtown Patch will post more information here as it becomes available.

Claire Moses contributed this report.

Barbara Field December 20, 2012 at 04:19 AM
I worked for Duracell back in the 80's at Exit 8. I needed a card to swipe beside the steel doors to enter the building. Not sure what cost that involved but perhaps that would be possible to replace the glass doors, should everyone decide that we will not be beaten by one disturbed person's madness. It's shameful that we have to be concerned for children's safety- abducted from their own yards and homes, to malls, to movie theaters, to post offices that have all seen acts of violence no matter where we live or work. I understand that guns can cause more harm in a few seconds that other items. But I also understand that across the U.S. there are probably hundreds of people raised around guns, learned how to use them properly and legally and they aren't the ones causing the terror. Isn't is always someone with some form of mental illness,or a lack of control of their emotions. We will never be able to predict who and where they are on any given day? Anyone can learn how to cause great physical harm to others from the internet. How will we legislate control of that? All we can do now is find responsible ways to improve upon the security already in place and pray that families struggling with mental health issues will find the help needed. Let's honor the memories of those that were lost at the school by respecting one another no matter where you live or what you own. Newtown strong.
Savannah Crawmer December 20, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Please guys, this was a tragedy! A horrible massacre! But it's one of those things where there is not any reasonable resolution to this gun issue. Taking them away would strip people of their number one defense! Concealed gun control is a good rule and it should stay that way folks! Praying for everyone tonight! May they enjoy Christmas in Christ's arms. :(.
Prayers Forall December 22, 2012 at 10:18 AM
To all who only stated that prayers went out to the victims and families, you are true angels. You did not pretend to have the answer to the problem Or did you? Prayers from someone who cares about how everyone is affected by this tragedy.
Jane Sims December 26, 2012 at 05:35 PM
My payers go out to all involved. Our nation does indeed need to look carefully at all reasons our country has become so violent. We do not want a society that has veryone carrying around concealed guns everywhere. We need SENSIBLE gun laws withour any loopholes, stringent repercussions, and honest talk by gun owners and non-gun owners concerning assault rifles and magazines that hold more than 10 bullets. We also need a fair discussion of violent video games and movies and more availability for mental health needs in every state. The disparity of our states and national organizations is enormous in respect to laws, monies, and willingness to talk on all of these subjects . We must TALK, LISTEN, and ACT. Our country is more violent than any other democratic civilized country in the world. WAKE UP all citizens and legislators and put your voice and money where it will help the future of our children and of all of us.
Alan Burnside February 01, 2013 at 12:47 AM
From Dec 14 - Dec 26 there were 536 comments by Patch readers on the killings at Sandy Hook Elem School. A lot of emotion, a lot of angst, a lot of anger, a lot of misinformation. I have found that gun supporters still insist on fighting a hypothetical argument in favor of assault weapons, and insist on mischaracterizing the argument in favor of stricter enforcement of existing or new legislation,as some imagined assault on 2nd amend. rights. As the father (David Wheeler) of one of the slain boy's eloquently said yesterday: "my 6 years old right to life supercedes your right to own an assault weapon". The gun lobby cynically waits until the fervor dies down and people return to the norm. We MUST stay motivated. In my mind the argument is over. The debate is over. No more discussion.We must simply move on past the gun lobby's unconscionable obstructionism. We must support President Obama and VP Biden's checklist, which WILL NOT eliminate mass killings, but surely will save some lives. And then, we must keep our efforts local. We need not look any further than our own embarrassing House member, Dana Rohrbacher, who is a longterm member of the ultra-right Gun Owners of America (GOA), which condemns the NRA for being too soft on gun laws. We need to organize and start the process of change AT HOME. Get Rohrbacher OUT. Orange County is no longer the repository of hard-core Right thinking. It's time we flex our electoral muscle and move on. Rohrbacher GOES next time.

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