Grieving US Town to Bury School Massacre Victims
The gunman who killed 27 people, including 20 children, on Friday at the Newtown Elementary school in Connecticut has been strange, but not insane and apparently suffered from a rare form of autism, according to a local resident, who knew the family.
New details have emerged around the tragedy, but the motive of the assailant, identified as Adam Lanza, 20, remains unknown, even though the police say they had "a pretty good idea."
It is now known that he targeted a school to which he had no apparent connection — forcing his way in and spraying classrooms with a weapon designed to kill across a battlefield, the Washington Post reports.
On Saturday, law enforcement officials gave new details about the rampage, which ended with Lanza's suicide, and these details contradicted some earlier statements.
Lanza's mother, for instance, was not a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, as first reported. She apparently has been unemployed. So it is still a mystery why her son dressed in black, killed her, took at least three guns from her collection and drove the five miles to some school to target young children and teachers.
Meanwhile, also on Saturday, authorities released the names of the victims – the 18 children killed on the spot and the two who died in the hospital later were all ages 6 (16 of them) and 7 (the other 4). The adults include the school's principal, the psychologist, three teachers and a substitute teacher. The oldest victim was 56.
The State medical examiner H. Wayne Carver II described the children's injuries, which he said ranged from at least two to 11 bullet wounds. He said he saw multiple wounds on the bodies of those he examined, and based on his conversations with colleagues.
"I've been at this for a third of a century. And my sensibilities may not be the average man's. But this probably is the worst I have seen," said Carver, who had performed seven of the autopsies himself.
Law enforcement officials, cited by the Washington Post, reported that Lanza had entered the school by force sometime after 9:30 a.m. Friday. Sandy Hook's principal, Dawn Hochsprung, had recently installed a new security system in which the school doors were kept locked all day starting at 9:30. But Lanza had apparently shattered the glass in a window or door.
Lanza was carrying at least three guns from a collection maintained by his mother, who friends said enjoyed target shooting. Lanza had two pistols, a Glock and a Sig Sauer.
But he apparently chose a larger weapon, a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle, for much of the killing. This rifle fires one bullet for every pull of the trigger, and the unusually high speed of its round was designed to produce significant internal damage. Authorities said Lanza fired dozens and dozens of times in a spree that lasted minutes.
When police arrived, Lanza was dead. Later, the investigators went to the home that he shared with his mother, Nancy Lanza, and found her dead there.
In Connecticut, people who had known Adam Lanza described him as odd, nervous and withdrawn.
Fellow students from high school have added that he has been shy, extremely intelligent, and studied very hard under the constant pressure of his mother to get good grades.
Lanza's parents divorced in 2008 and the break-up has been very hard on Adam and his older brother Ryan.
"No words can truly express how heartbroken we are," Adam Lanza's father, Peter Lanza, said in a statement released Saturday. "We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can. We too are asking why."
In Newtown, people overcome with grief, after the initial shock has subsided, have started funeral preparations.
President Obama is expected to arrive Sunday for an evening interfaith service.
In addition to an emotional outpouring at the horrific scene Friday's events have led to a wave of reaction about gun control and gun legislation in America.
Friday afternoon, Obama wiped away tears when delivering a statement on the shooting saying:
"We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news I react not as a President, but as anybody else would -- as a parent."
Around the country, advocates for stronger gun-control laws hope that the shock of this crime would start a debate that other mass shootings had not. Some call on Obama to stop being the Chief Mourner, and act not as a parent, but as president.
"If having dozens of people gunned down in an elementary school doesn't motivate Washington to do even the easy things they can do, it's not clear what will," said Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group chaired by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) that represents 750 mayors across the country.
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