Thursday, December 20, 2012

Medical Examiner: Newtown Shooting Victims Suffered 'Devastating Set of Injuries'

Officials during a press conference shared some harrowing details of the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including the nature of gunshot wounds.

Update 6 p.m.

Crowds of people watching the ABC News screen in Times Square, coverage of CT school shooting

NEWTOWN, CT—Minutes before releasing a heart-wrenching list of those who perished in Friday’s mass shooting in Newtown, state officials reviewed some of the harrowing, gruesome details of what appears to have happened inside an elementary school where 20 children and six adults were shot dead by a lone gunman who then killed himself.

Full Focus Gallery: Connecticut elementary school shooting -
by Reuters_Jillian Kitchener December 14 at 5:48 PM

Responding to difficult questions posed by a national media corps that descended just one day earlier on this normally quiet town about 60 miles northeast of New York City, the Connecticut chief medical examiner described how and where the bullets entered the children, what the kids were wearing and how he felt about what he’d seen inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“This probably is the worst I have seen or the worst that I know any of my colleagues having seen,” said Dr. H. Wayne Carver II of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, where he’s been working for 31 years including 26 as chief.

President Obama Speaks at Newtown High School
December 16, 2012 | 18:02 | Public Domain
President Obama delivers remarks at an interfaith prayer vigil for the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Carver said he saw no difference in the pattern of shooting deaths between children and adults inside the school.

The weapon used primarily in the shootings was a long rifle, Carver said, and victims young and old were shot “all over” with some at close range and some not.

“I only did seven of the autopsies, the victims I had ranged from three to 11 wounds apiece and I only saw two of them with close range shooting,” Carver said.

The shooter who wielded that gun—discovered dead inside the building Friday with a rifle and two smaller guns near his body, police have said—has been widely reported to be Adam Lanza, 20. His motives remain unclear; state police are investigating.

Carver said he would complete autopsies on the shooter and the shooter’s mother, widely reported to be Nancy Lanza of Sandy Hook, on Sunday morning.

All bodies were removed from the school before dawn Saturday and transported to the medical examiner's base in Farmington—about 40 miles away. The children’s autopsies were performed first so that their bodies could be made available to funeral directors “for obvious reasons,” Carver said.

Asked whether the shooting victims at the school suffered, Carver responded: “To best of my ability to answer that question, which is always less than perfect: If so, not for very long.”

The graphic, detailed information seemed to fly in the face of a more private tone that Newtown First Selectman Patricia Llodra was trying to set when she preceded Carver at the podium.

Calling Newtown a “close-knit community” whose heart is broken in the wake of a “horrendous tragedy,” Llodra called for media members to respect the privacy of residents, including those grieving for lost loved ones.

“Please treat our community with kindness,” Llodra said. “Please know that we have suffered a terrible loss and we need your respect on this healing journey.”

Carver called the injuries to shooting victims “a very devastating set.”

Two men pray at Saint Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman opened fire on school children and staff in Newtown, Connecticut December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Joshua Lott
by andrew.binet December 15 at 12:12 AM
Relatives identified their loved ones not in person but by photos taken of the victims’ faces, Carver said.

“We did not bring the bodies and families into contact, we took pictures of them, of their facial features,” he said. “It’s easier on the families when you do that. There is a time and place for up close and personal in the grieving process but to accomplish this we felt it would be best to do it this way.”

At one point a reporter asked Carver what the children were wearing, to which he replied: “They were wearing cute kids’ stuff. I mean they’re first-graders.”

Below, our colleagues have assembled a profile of Adam Lanza.
Young man returns to elementary school as mass killerBy Chris Francescani
In the aftermath of Friday's elementary school shooting, a shattered New England town searched for clues to why a young man would commit so heinous an act.
The life of Adam Lanza will be dissected, analyzed and re-analyzed in the days to come as investigators dig into the background of the 20-year-old, who law enforcement sources say returned to his elementary school and opened fire.
Thus far, there are clues, but no answers.
Read the rest here.
by andrew.binet December 15 at 12:16 AM

Carver also was asked whether he became emotional among the bodies of so many victims, mostly children, and told the corps “Not yet.”

“I think if you don’t’ have to do that, you shouldn’t be in this business,” he said.“For this one, not yet. Notice I said ‘yet.’ “

Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police echoed Llodra’s imploring for privacy, reminding people as he had at an earlier press conference that a state trooper has been assigned to each individual family of the victims. One new piece of information that Vance supplied in response to a reporter’s question was that investigators found no evidence of an altercation in the school involving the gunman.

Update 10:40 a.m.

NEWTOWN, CT -- Though the gunman’s motive remains unclear, some pieces of the timeline, emergency response and ongoing investigation into Friday’s horrifying shooting came into focus Saturday morning as state police addressed media members at a park near Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Connecticut State Police Officers stand outside the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman opened fire on school children and staff in Newtown, Connecticut December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

by andrew.binet December 15 at 1:03 AM

All 20 children and six adults who died as a result of wounds suffered at the Newtown school have been identified by family members, Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance said.

Those families are going through “a very difficult and trying time,” Vance said, pleading with the media to respect the survivors’ wishes for privacy. A list that names the deceased will be made available as soon as the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has finished its work. Vance said that the bodies inside the school all have been transported to that office—located in the Hartford suburb of Farmington, about 40 miles from Newtown.

It isn’t clear when the elementary school will reopen. Vance said investigators likely will be on scene for another one to two days. The superintendent of schools in Newtown is expected to address the media Saturday, Vance said.

Praying in Newtown, Conn.
A family prays near a statue of the Virgin Mary outside Saint Rose of Lima church in Newtown, Conn., on Friday. (Frank Becerra / The Journal News / December 14, 2012)

Echoing what Newtown police told Patch Saturday morning, Vance said investigators are working hard to try and establish the gunman’s motive. Until that investigation is complete, Vance said, no information about its details will be released.

“I have to tell you that there are certain things, that there are simply cards we are holding close to our chest,” he said.

Also echoing Newtown police, Vance confirmed that the gunman appeared to have forced his way into the school by shooting through glass to breach a secure, locked system.

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Vance said that “good evidence” was recovered at the school as well as a Sandy Hook home where a woman whose son is believed to be the shooter was found dead Friday.

Multiple news outlets citing police sources have identified 20-year-old Adam Lanza as the gunman.According to NBC News, three weapons used in the shootings—two 9 mm handguns and a rifle—were legally purchased and registered to Lanza’s mother.

“[The school and home] did produce evidence that investigators are able to use,” Vance said.

Vance confirmed that all three weapons were located near the shooter by police responding to the scene Friday.

First responders to the school encountered “several students and staff suffering from gunshot wounds,” according to a press release issued by the state police.

"One dressed up in goofy costumes to make her students smile. Another was a psychologist — preparing to retire." The New York Times says Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Mary Sherlach, a school psychologist - both killed in the shooting - will be remembered as dedicated educators who died "alongside the children they cared for as if they were their own."
Read the full piece here.
by Reuters_RossChainey December 14 at 11:04 PM

On- and off-duty troopers and Newtown Police Department officers responded to what the world quickly learned was a horrifying, unimaginable scene following a 9:30 a.m. 911 call reporting a possible shooting at the school, Vance said in the press release.

“Upon arrival, teams of Troopers and Officers formed ‘Active Shooter Teams’ and immediately entered the school,” Vance said in the release. “Teams performed rescues of students and staff, removing them to a safe location as they searched for the shooting suspect within the building. The building was evacuated and students walked hand in hand out to a safe location.”

"I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear about today’s horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that has killed and injured so many innocent people.

My thoughts are with the injured and those who have lost loved ones. It is heartbreaking to think of those who have had their children robbed from them at such a young age, when they had so much life ahead of them.
I offer my sincere condolences to the families, to President Obama, Governor Malloy and the American people. The thoughts of the British people are with you all at this very difficult time."

-British Prime Minister David Cameron
by Matthew Keys December 14 at 10:48 PMThe shooter, whose identity police have not yet confirmed, was found dead inside the school, Vance said. Police have said the gunman shot himself.

Multiple media outlets have identified 20-year-old Adam Lanza as the gunman. Vance also confirmed that a relative of the gunman was found dead at a residence in Sandy Hook. That deceased person is believed to be Lanza’s mother, Nancy. Nancy Lanza, originally reported to be a teacher at the school, is not in fact a teacher there, according to CNN.

In all, 27 people were killed, police said, including 20 children. Among the adults killed were the school’s beloved principal and psychologist.

"It's not 'politics' but basic decency to insist America have this debate [on gun control]", writes The Guardian's Gary Younge. Younge writes frequently on American politics, and he believes, "It is simply not plausible to understand events in Connecticut this Friday without having a conversation about guns in a country where more than 84 people a day are killed with guns, and more than twice that number are injured with them."
Here's a link to the full article.
by Reuters_Ross Chainey December 14 at 10:12 PM

Writing on The Washington Post's Wonkblog, Ezra Klein says: "If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it."
Here's the rest of his article: Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States
by Reuters_RossChainey December 14 at 9:52 PM

The identities of all victims have been established, Vance said. Families of those killed have asked that no media members press them for interviews, Vance said.

The bodies of those that perished have been transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner, which is located in Farmington—a suburb of Hartford about 40 miles away.

“State Police Major Crime Investigators are continuing to process the school crime scene, gathering evidence and documenting the entire facility,” Vance said in the press release. “State Police Detectives assisted by Newtown Detectives processed the interior and exterior crime scene. Teams of investigators flooded the community and followed each lead, developing extensive information.”

RT @KIRO7Seattle: RT @hamkiro7: All of St James in Seattle lit up for as they #prayfornewtown

In addition to the support for families themselves, Vance said, a crisis intervention team is being made available to the larger Newtown community. That team can be reached at 203-270-4283, Vance said.

Original Story

[Audio] First emergency scanner traffic audio from Connecticut school shooting -
Newtown residents reeling from the massacre of 26 people, including 20 children, at an elementary school Friday are facing questions as they wake up to a living nightmare about the gunman’s motive, weapons and just what happened.

Police are expected to hold a press conference at 8 a.m. and have said that they are “working backwards” to piece together the “why” behind the mass shooting in this normally quiet area. A town of about 27,000, Newtown is 45 miles southwest of Hartford, or about 60 miles northeast of New York City. A 12 p.m. Saturday prayer service is scheduled for St. John's Episcopal Church in Sandy Hook, a neighborhood of the town. 

"Words and tears aren't enough", writes John Cassidy in The New Yorker. He says the shooting is part of "America's shame", and adds: "All societies have deeply troubled and alienated young men, some of whom end up violently lashing out at the world. But in most other advanced countries, such as the United Kingdom, which banned handguns after what happened at Dunblane, these misfits don’t have easy access to guns and the gun culture that glorifies them.
"During recent years, politicians of both parties, President Obama included, have been far too reticent about spelling out this elemental truth. In the immediate aftermath of the massacre at the cinema in Aurora, President Obama refused even to talk about the gun laws, preferring to keep the focus on the victims."
Read the rest of his piece here.
by Reuters_RossChainey December 14 at 9:17 PM

Newtown police Lt. George Sinko, the department’s public information officer, told Patch Saturday morning that investigators have no sense of what prompted the gunman to act.

“There is no sense of motive at this time,” Sinko said.

Though Connecticut State Police have declined to identify the Sandy Hook Elementary Schoolshooter, several news outlets citing police sources have identified 20-year-old Adam Lanza.According to NBC News, three weapons used in the shootings—two 9 mm handguns and a rifle—were legally purchased and registered to Lanza’s mother, whom police say was found dead at her Sandy Hook home.

Parents of schoolchildren at the scene Friday told Patch that the school was locked and that visitors need to be buzzed in. Sinko said Saturday that the gunman appeared to have blasted his way inside.

On the subject of gun control, historian Dr Tim Stanley, writing in The Daily Telegraph, says: "Gun control laws will be invoked, but they'd be incredibly difficult to pass in a culture that defines freedom by the right of self defence. And what it really takes to change a society is a revolution of the soul – something no law can make happen."
Follow this link to read the rest of his article.
by Reuters_RossChainey December 14 at 8:57 PM

Police radio dispatches aired by CNN reveal harrowing early communications to emergency responders who arrived at the elementary school around 9:40 a.m. Friday.

"Caller is indicating she thinks that someone is shooting in the building," a dispatcher says. "The front glass has been broken. We are not sure why."

An emotional Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said, ''We are all in this together,'' but the school shooting rampage that left 27 people dead marked a ''terrible time for this community and for these families.'' Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
by Reuters_RossChainey December 14 at 8:45 PMAnd later: "All units, the individual that I have on the phone is continuing to hear what he believes to be gunfire. Units are responding to Sandy Hook School at this time. The shooting appears to have stopped. The school is in lockdown."

According to Sinko, the gunman shot out glass next to the front door of the school.

“We say that because the window next to the door was shattered. We are still investigating," Sinko said.

Sinko said investigators are sorting through a “tremendous amount of evidence,” adding that police are looking for no other suspects than the suspected gunman who also was found dead inside the school.

"We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. 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. We need immediate action."
-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
by Matthew Keys December 14 at 8:41 PM

Much of the investigators’ work involves checking motor vehicles, Sinko said.

Sinko said that police are not releasing the names of the suspect or children killed.

Patch will update this article with new information from state police and other officials throughout Saturday.

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