|This article documents a current event. Information may change rapidly as the event progresses. (December 2012)|
|Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting|
File:Newtown CT lg.PNG|
Location of Newtown in Connecticut
12 Dickenson Drive,|
Sandy Hook, Connecticut, USA
December 14, 2012 |
9:35 a.m. (EST)
|Target||Students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School|
|Attack type||Mass murder, school shooting, murder–suicide, matricide, spree shooting|
|Deaths||20 children and 8 adults (including the gunman and his mother)|
|Injured||At least two|
On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children and 6 staff, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Connecticut, and then killed himself. The school shooting occurred after he shot and killed his mother, a volunteer at the school, at their nearby Newtown home. It was the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.
After shooting his mother Nancy Lanza, age 54, the gunman drove her car to the school. Adam Lanza's older brother Ryan was mistakenly identified as the shooter in early reports by media organizations, and was later voluntarily questioned by the Connecticut State Police and FBI, though he was not considered a suspect or taken into custody. Ryan's identification was found on Adam's body.
The gunman wore black military-style gear, including a bullet-proof vest[dubious ] and a mask. He started shooting at about 9:35 a.m., approximately half an hour after the school day began. Most of the shooting took place in two first-grade classrooms and lasted only a few minutes, during which time witnesses said the shooter did not say a word. He committed suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Authorities recovered two 9mm handguns from the scene: one a Glock, and the other a SIG Sauer. A .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle was found in the back of a car in the parking lot. The guns were owned by and legally registered to the gunman's mother. Neither handgun would have been legal for the gunman to obtain or possess in Connecticut at the time of the incident, as he was under 21 years of age.
The principal, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, age 47, and the school psychologist, Mary Sherlach, age 56, were among the dead. Hochsprung was credited by police with helping to save others by activating the public address system from the office and screaming a warning to the rest of the school, prior to being shot herself. A custodian also ran through hallways alerting classrooms in person. First grade teacher Kaitlyn Roig, age 29, hid 14 of the school's approximately 450 grade K-4 students in a bathroom and barricaded the door, telling them to be completely quiet in order to keep them safe.
Police authorities said the gunman was Adam Lanza, age 20 (born April 22, 1992), a former honors student at Newtown High School. He had no criminal record. He was born in Kingston, New Hampshire, where his parents were married. Adam Lanza lived with his mother in a Sandy Hook house 5 miles (8 km) from Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Adam Lanza's parents had divorced in 2009. During their divorce proceedings, a judge ordered that the parents participate in a "parenting education program." The shooter's father, a vice president and tax accountant for GE Energy Financial Services and an adjunct professor at Northeastern University in Boston who lives in Stamford, Connecticut, declined to comment on the shootings.
At the time of the shooting, Adam Lanza was carrying the identification of his older brother, Ryan Lanza, age 24, leading police sources to initially report Ryan as the shooter. Some news organizations incorrectly showed photos from a Facebook page of a different man with the same name as Ryan. Ryan Lanza voluntarily submitted to questioning by police, but was not considered a suspect or taken into custody. He said he had not been in touch with his brother since 2010.
Ryan Lanza told law enforcement that his brother was believed to suffer from a personality disorder and was "somewhat autistic"; classmates said they had been told he had Asperger syndrome. Students and teachers who knew Adam Lanza in high school described him as "intelligent, but nervous and fidgety", saying he normally avoided attention. A bus driver who drove the Lanza brothers from and to school recalled them as "really nice boys, well-behaved." According to a teacher of Lanza's, he was not known to have had any close friends in school. The mainstream media's comments on and speculation about unverified autism and Asperger syndrome rumours has been harshly criticized by autism advocates.
Let me begin by expressing my gratitude to the people of Newtown, the people of Connecticut, the President of the United States, the people of the United States and, quite frankly, across the world that we've heard from since this unspeakable and tragic event occurred here. As you know, there are a number of victims: teachers, support personnel in the building and children – beautiful, beautiful children who simply came to school to learn. And their day ended a very different way than any of us could possibly have imagined. And, quite frankly, as we stand here today still can't imagine what transpired there. Evil visited this community today. And it's too early to speak of recovery but 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 do to get through this event. We will get through it. But this is a terrible time for this community and these families...
At 12:41 p.m. EST, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney issued a brief statement saying that U.S. President Barack Obama expressed "enormous sympathy for families that are affected". President Obama gave a televised address at 3:16 p.m. EST the same day, saying, "We are going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics." Obama paused twice during the address to compose himself and wipe away tears. He also ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House and other US federal government facilities worldwide in respect for the victims. Speaker of the House John Boehner ordered flags be flown at half staff at the Capitol as well. In the response to President Obama's statement and the shooting itself, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said "President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough."
From the second through the fifth grade, I was a student at Sandy Hook elementary School, site of today's tragic events. The park where the press conference was held afterwards was Treadwell Park, named for my father who was for several years First Selectman (Mayor) of that town before his death in 1973. I'm just sick and in tears for these kids, these teachers, these families. I know those hallways like the back of my hand, and those playgrounds, and to think today that they are the scene they are just breaks my heart. Hug your kids, say your prayers, and work for peace, and appreciate every day we have with each other in this world.
Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York called for more talk about stricter gun laws: "If now is not the time to have a serious discussion about gun control and the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our society, I don't know when is." He also stated, "I am challenging President Obama, the Congress and the American public to act on our outrage and, finally, do something about this." Connecticut is ranked as having the 5th toughest gun control laws in the country according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
School shootings are always incomprehensible and horrific tragedies. But words fail to describe today's heartbreaking and savage attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As the father of two children in elementary school, I can barely imagine the anguish and losses suffered today by the Newtown community. Our hearts and prayers go out to every parent, child, teacher, staff member, and administrator at Sandy Hook and the surrounding community. And our thanks go out to every teacher, staff member, and first responder who cared for, comforted, and protected children from harm, often at risk to themselves. We will do everything in our power to assist and support the healing and recovery of Newtown.
On the day of the attack, Google paid tribute to the victims by displaying an image of a candle on its homepage accompanied with the line "Our hearts are with the families and community of Newtown, Connecticut."
- Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard issued a press release, stating that the Australian people "share America’s shock at this senseless and incomprehensible act of evil. As parents and grandparents, as brothers and sisters, as friends of the American people, we mourn the loss of children, aged only five to ten years, whose futures lay before them. We mourn the loss of brave teachers who sought only to lead their students into that future but were brutally murdered in a place of refuge and learning".
- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev sent a letter of condolence to Barack Obama, saying: "I was deeply astonished and grieved to hear about the terrible tragedy that happened at the school in Newtown, Connecticut. Sharing in your grief on behalf of the people of Azerbaijan and on my own, I would like to express my sincere condolences to you, families and friends of those killed and all the American people".
- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wrote on Twitter: "The news is just awful. The thoughts and prayers of Canadians are with the students and families in Connecticut affected by this senseless violence."
- European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement "I want to express my shock after the tragic shooting at a school in Connecticut today," She also said, "I think of the victims, their families and the American people at this difficult time," European Commission Chief José Manuel Barroso said, "It is with deep shock and horror that I learned of the tragic shooting in Connecticut," European Commission Chief José Manuel Barroso said. "On behalf of the European Commission and myself, I express my sincere condolences to the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy,"
- French President François Hollande commented that he was "horrified" when heard about the event.
- Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast condemned "the massacre of American children" and expressed his condolences to the families of victims. He called on "American society to participate in the movement against the war and the killing of innocent people around the world," adding, "There is no difference between children who are victims of armed actions in Gaza, the United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq or in Syria." 
- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda sent a condolence message to President Obama saying, "We express our condolences to the families of the victims... the sympathy of the Japanese people is with the American people."
- Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė stated that she was deeply distressed by the Connecticut tragedy. Grybauskaitė wished "great strength" to the families of those who had perished.
- Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto expressed his condolences via Twitter, saying, "My solidarity is with the American people and President Obama". 
- Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Facebook: "My thoughts are with the families who have lost their loved ones in the horrible shooting in Connecticut."
- Philippine President Benigno Aquino III stated that he and the Filipino people stand with the United States "with bowed heads, yet in deep admiration over the manner in which the American people have reached out to comfort the afflicted, and to search for answers that will give meaning and hope to this grim event." "We pray for healing, and that this heartbreak will never be visited on any community ever again," he added, in a statement tweeted by deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte.
- Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent a message to Barack Obama saying “Mr. President; I am very sorry to hear about the shootings. We deeply share your sadness. In the name of Turkish People, our government and myself we hope well beings for the wounded.”
- In a message to President Obama, Queen Elizabeth II said, "I have been deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the dreadful loss of life today in Newtown, Connecticut; particularly the news that so many of the dead are children." She added that Prince Philip joined her in extending their heartfelt sympathy to Obama and the American people. British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote on Twitter: "My thoughts are with those who've been devastated by the Connecticut shootings."
- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his "deepest condolences" over the victims, calling the rampage "shocking murders," spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York. "The secretary-general said that the targeting of children is heinous and unthinkable, and extended his thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims and all others traumatized by this horrendous crime," said the spokesman.
- Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone issued a letter of condolence on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI, which was read aloud at a Newtown vigil, saying, "In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy, [the Holy Father] asks God, our Father, to console all those who mourn and to sustain the entire community with the spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love."