“Police with big guns” stormed the building, says one 9-year-old girl. The children were led out of Sandy Hook Elementary School and told to cover their eyes.
Just before 9:30 a.m., according to still developing reports, Adam Lanza, 20, walked into the school in Newtown, Conn., and opened fire on students and staff. Unofficial reports have the body count at 26, at least 20 of them children, with still more being treated at nearby Danbury Hospital. Lanza then shot and killed himself.
The entire nation is mourning the news, shell-shocked by images of wailing children fleeing the schools single file. They are haunted by anecdotes from surviving students, like the girl who told Fox News that her teacher heard the shots, locked the door, and huddled her pupils in the darkest corner of the room.
The collective thought: Who would do such a thing?
Lanza was 20. His mother, Nancy, may have been a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, and police say she was found dead in her Newtown home. According to sources, Lanza “had a dispute with her” before targeting her kindergarten classroom during his shooting rampage. Police say he opened fire on two rooms. In addition to his mother, the school’s principal and psychologist were shot dead. He used two handguns and a .223-caliber assault rifle.
When his dead body was found in the school, he was dressed in all black and wearing body armor.
One parent who was in the school during the attack said “100 rounds” must have been fired. There was a “pop pop pop” sound in the hallway, said Meredith Artley. Three people went to investigate, but “only one person came back.”
An unnamed police officer told a Fox reporter that Lanza had a “checkered past” and had been a “troubled youth for most of his life,” but would not elaborate because juvenile records are kept confidential.
News organizations are trying to be as responsible as possible while still providing details of the tragedy. The narrative being pieced together is that Adam Lanza, who is from Newtown, traveled to a family home in Hoboken, N.J., yesterday, and killed at least one person there before going back to Connecticut. It is believed that one victim is Lanza’s father. Lanza’s girlfriend and a friend are reported missing in New Jersey.
Lanza’s 24-year-old brother Ryan was taken into custody by police for questioning, though not because he is a suspect. Most news organizations had erroneously identified Ryan as the shooter, not Adam, with several outlets mistakenly publishing the photo of an entirely different Ryan Lanza, who was not related to the shooter. NBC News says the name confusion was because Adam had his brother’s ID with him at the time.
Newtown Patch reports that Ryan Lanza told a close friend that he thinks his developmentally disabled brother committed the crime. ABC News reports that Ryan Lanza “told authorities that his younger brother is autistic, or has Asperger syndrome and a ‘personality disorder.’ Neighbors have described him as “odd” and said he behaves as if he has an obsessive-compulsive disorder. On his Facebook, Ryan Lanza addressed the name confusion while heading back to Hoboken from work: “I’m on the bus home now. It wasn’t me.”
It is two weeks before Christmas, and the students at Sandy Hook Elementary were reading, learning, in gym class, or goofing around. “We were in the gym, and I heard really loud bangs,” one 9-year-old boy told The New York Times, through tears. “We thought that someone was knocking something over. And we heard yelling, and we heard gunshots. We heard lots of gunshots. We heard someone say, ‘Put your hands up.’ I heard, ‘Don’t shoot.’ We had to go into the closet in the gym. Then someone came and told us to run down the hallway. There were police at every door. There were lots of people crying and screaming.”
Who is Adam Lanza? He is the man responsible for that story.