More details are emerging about the shooter and his victims in the worst act of deadly violence at an elementary school in U.S. history, as President Obama planned to meet Sunday with families and attend a community vigil.
Grieving relatives were trying to cope with the violence in Newtown, Conn. — where police say 20-year-old Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday morning and gunned down 20 children and six adults, including the school’s principal, before killing himself.
Sixteen of the victims were just 6 years old and four were only 7. School officials say Principal Dawn Hochsprung, 47, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, were shot and killed as they tried to stop Lanza. Teacher Anne Marie Murphy, 52, was killed as she shielded her students, authorities say. Teachers Victoria Soto, 27, Rachel Davino, 29, and substitute teacher Lauren Garbrielle Rousseau, 30, were also among the dead. Nancy Lanza, the first of the six adult victims, was a former stockbroker, who divorced the shooter’s father in 2008.
The Harford Courant quoted former classmates of Adam Lanza at Newton High School describing him as a “skinny, shaggy-haired boy ‘who never really talked at all’” who was often seen carrying his laptop. The paper writes:
There was a common refrain among acquaintances of Adam Lanza: I knew of him but I didn’t know him.
Lanza kept to himself. Over several bloody minutes Friday morning, armed with a rifle, Lanza emerged from his shell long enough to destroy the lives of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He’d gone to the school as a youth, a former classmate said.
Lanza, who lived with his mother, was estranged from his brother and hadn’t spoken with his father, Peter Lanza, in four years. The elder Lanza released a statement on Saturday expressing shock and sadness over the killings.
But police investigators have so far offered no motive for the deadly assault and Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy suggested Saturday that it’s something that might never be known.
“When tragedies like this take place, people often look for answers, an explanation how this could have happened. The sad truth is there are no answers. No good ones, anyway,” Malloy said.
NPR’s Susannah George, reporting from Newtown, says “there is a constant stream of people coming and going from the makeshift memorial at the entrance to Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many people have come from out of town – some as far as an hour away – to lay flowers and light candles.”
Later Sunday, Obama was to meet privately with victims’ families at Newtown. According to The Associated Press, the president would also meet with emergency personnel who responding to the shooting. Later, he will speak with a vigil at Newtown High School.
The visit will be Obama’s fourth as president to a community that experienced a mass shooting.