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Monday, December 17, 2012

Updates on the Aftermath of Fatal Shootings at Connecticut School

More details emerged Saturday about the victims, including heroic acts by teachers during the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., as my colleagues report. The Lede provided live coverage of the aftermath of the attack that left 20 children and six staff members dead.

10:38 P.M. |Gathering to Mourn

In gatherings large and small on Saturday, people across the country mourned the deaths of 27 women and small children killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In the final update for the night, here are some photos mourners posted to Twitter.

PIC: Candlelight vigil in Stratford. Hundreds here #WCVB #CTshooting #Newtown http://t.co/sL2c4zCa
- Liam Martin (@LiamWCVB) 16 Dec 12

10:11 P.M. |A Father, Choked with Grief, Remembers His Daughter
Robbie Parker gives an emotional remembrance of his 6-year-old daughter, Emilie.

Gulping air to steady his grief, Robbie Parker stood in front of television cameras on Saturday evening to deliver an emotional remembrance of his 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, who was among those killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Describing himself as blessed to be her father, Mr. Parker, 30, said Emilie could “light up a room” and was a source of strength for him, his wife and her two younger sisters.

“My daughter Emilie would be one of the first ones to be standing and giving her love and support to all those victims, because that's the type of person that she is,” he said. “Not because of any parenting my wife and I have done. But because those were the gifts that were given to her by her heavenly father.”

He said Emilie was quick to console the grieving, always in possession of markers and paper with which to draw up a get-well card. One of these she placed in her grandfather's casket after he died several months ago. The oldest of three, she helped teach her sisters to read and make crafts, he said, and was almost like a third parent to them.

“They looked to her for comfort,” he said.

The family had been in Newtown only a short time. Eight months ago, Mr. Parker, his wife, Alyssa, and their daughters moved from Ogden, Utah, so that he could take a job as a physician assistant in the neonatal care unit at Danbury Hospital, he said.

Mr. Parker said he did not regret the move, nor was he mad at the shooter, whom he described as acting under the free will that God gave him. He said that he and his family would in turn use their own free will and use the tragedy to help others.

“Let us not turn this into something that defines us, but something that allows us to be more companionate,” he said.

He thanked his friends for setting up a tribute page and memorial fund for his daughter on Facebook.

And though clearly overcome with his own emotions, he offered h is condolences to all the families affected by the tragedy, saying his family's hearts and prayers went out to them.

Then he went further.

“This includes the family of the shooter,” he said. “I can't imagine how hard this experience must be for you. And I want you to know that our family and our love and our support goes out to you as well.”

The last conversation Mr. Parker had with his daughter was in Portuguese, he said, a language they had been learning together.

“She told me good morning,” he said. “She asked how I was doing. She told me she loved me.”

“I gave her a kiss,” he said, “and I was out the door.”

- Michael Schwirtz

8:47 P.M. |Suspect's Father Releases Statement

Peter Lanza, the father of Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old suspected of carrying out the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, released a statement on Saturday evening:

Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those who were injured. Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy. No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can. We too are asking why. We have cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so. Like so many of you, we are saddened, but struggling to make sense of what has transpired.

8:36 P.M. |Mary Sherlach, Proud Psychologist at Sandy Hook

Mary Sherlach, 56, started her job as the school psychologist at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 1994, and was in a conference with the mother of a second grader along with the school's principal and vice principal when shots rang out on Friday.

The mother, who was not identified, told CNN that Ms. Sherlach, the principal and the vice principal ran out into the hall. Only the vice principal returned, with a wound to the foot.

Ms. Sherlach was preparing to retire after nearly two decades at the school, her son-in-law, Eric Schwartz, a freelance writer and Patch contributor, told The Milford Patch. But he said that even after so many years, she was still passionate about her job as a school psychologist.

On her Web site, Ms. Sherlach wrote that she and her husband, Bill, had been married for over 30 years and had two daughters in their twenties. She wrote that she enjoyed traveling and spending time at the family's lake home in upstate New York.

“I truly enjoy working with the SHS staff, parents and children and am always ready to assist in p roblem solving, intervention and prevention,” she wrote.

8:20 P.M. |President Obama to Travel to Newtown on Sunday

President Obama will travel to Newtown, Conn., on Sunday evening to meet with first responders and the families who lost loved ones in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, the White House said in a statement. The president will also speak at an interfaith vigil for those affected by the tragedy at 7 p.m.

7:04 P.M. |Christmas Trees Donated to Town
6:56 P.M. |Teacher and Mother of Four Died Shielding Students

The body of Anne Marie Murphy was discovered in a classroom covering the smaller bodies of several of her students. She had tried to shi eld them from a gunman's bullets, but there were too many.

“A first responder said she was a hero,” her father, Hugh McGowan, told Newsday in an interview published on Saturday.

Ms. Murphy, 52, a married mother of four, was the sixth of seven children and a special education teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary. Mr. McGowan described his daughter as “witty” and “hardworking,” an artistic and fun-loving painter.

In the interview, conducted at their home in Katonah, N.Y., Ms. Murphy's parents described a numbness that had set in in the wake of the shootings.

“You don't expect your daughter to be murdered. That's sort of a shocker,” Mr. McGowan said. “It happens on TV; it happens elsewhere.”

Once they learned of the shooting, Alice McGowan, described an interminable waiting for her daughter to call. But that call never came. When she learned of her daughter's death, Newsday reported, Ms. McGowan grabbed her rosary and wept.

The family asked that donations be sent Autism Speaks, a New York-based group.

- Michael Schwirtz

6:39 P.M. |Lanza Family Statement

James Champion, a police officer in Kingston, New Hampshire and the brother of Nancy Lanza, who was killed by her son in the shooting, was expected to deliver a statement from the family on Saturday evening. Instead, one of Mr. Champion's colleagues read the statement, explaining that he was too overcome with emotion to do so himself.

“The family of Nancy Lanza share the grief of a community and the nation a s we struggle to comprehend the tremendous loss that we all share,” the statement said. “Our hearts and prayers are with those who share in this loss: their families, teachers, staff and the students of Sandy Hook Elementary school, the first responders, and to all others touched by this tragedy. On behalf of Nancy's mother and siblings, we reach out to the community of Newtown and express our heartfelt sorrow for the incomprehensible and profound loss of innocence that has affected so many.”

Another colleague of Mr. Champion described his relationship with his sister as “very close.”

“The whole family is traumatized by this event,” he said.

- Michael Schwirtz

4:13 P.M. |The Names of the Victims

The children: Charlotte Bacon, 6, Daniel Barden, 7, Olivia Engel, 6, Josephine Gay, 7, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6, Dylan Hockley, 6, Madeleine F. Hsu, 6, Catherine V. Hubbard, 6, Chase Kowalski, 7, Jesse Lewis, 6, James Mattioli, 6, Grace McDonnell, 7, Emilie Parker, 6, Jack Pinto, 6, Noah Pozner, 6, Caroline Previdi, 6, Jessica Rekos, 6, Avielle Richman, 6, Benjamin Wheeler, 6, Allison N. Wyatt, 6.

The staff: Rachel Davino, 29, Dawn Hochsprung, 47, Anne Marie Murphy, 52, Lauren Rousseau, 30, Mary Sherlach, 56, Victoria Soto, 27.

3:53 P.M. |Medical Examiner: Children Were Mostly First Graders

Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver II spoke with reporters on Saturday afternoon and said that all of the victims have been identified. He said that most of the schoolchildren who died were first graders and died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Did the victims suffer, he was asked.

“If so, not for very long,” Dr. Carver said. He described the injuries as “devastating.”

“This is the worst that I have seen,” he said. “This is the worst that I know any of my colleagues have seen.”

State police said that the gunman, Adam Lanza, brought four guns to the school, a Glock and Sig Sauer pistols and two rifles.

3:36 P.M. |‘Please Treat Our Community With Kindness'

Patricia Llodra, first selectman of Newtown, spoke with reporters this afternoon.

“We will put our arms around those families and around each other,” Ms. Llodra said in a statement she read aloud. “We will find a way to heal so that all of our residents, young and old, will find peace.”

“Please treat our community with kindness,” she said.

2:34 P.M. |‘It Was the Best Year of Her Life'

After years of working as a substitute teacher, Lauren Rousseau landed her dream job at Sandy Hook Elementary School this fall, according to a report in the Danbury News Times. She was 30 years old when she died on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Ms. Rousseau's mother, a copy editor at the Danbury News Times, is quoted in the article, describing her daughter as having many interests from music to dance to theater.

“It was the best year of her life,” Teresa Rousseau said.

The News-Times reports that Ms. Rousseau grew up in Danbury. She attended local schools before going to the University of Connecticut. She later earne d her master's degree in teaching from the University of Bridgeport. She lived in her family home in Danbury.

1:23 P.M. |Official: Gunman's Mother Was Not a Teacher at School

Thomas Kaplan, New York Times reporter:

1:02 P.M. |Memorial Outside Sandy Hook Elem entary School
12:38 P.M. |Video: Teacher Died Protecting Her Students

Victoria Soto was a teacher at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Her friends and family say she died protecting her students by hiding them in a closet and then shielding them when the gunman appeared. She was 27 years old.

In an interview with ABC News, her cousin, James Willsie, talks to Christopher Cuomo.

Cousin of Victoria Soto speaks to Christopher Cuomo from ABC News

Transcript from ABC:

I'm here, now, with James Willsie, the cousin of another victim and a hero, Vicki Soto, a teacher at the school. I'm so sorry for your loss. Your cousin, from what we know, did everything she could to save the lives of some kids.

Yes. From what we've been told, my cousin, Vicki, and her first grade classroom, took her students and huddled them into a closet. And then, shielded the children in the closet, trying to protect them from bullets.

Put herself between the gunman and the kids. Yes. She's definitely a hero.

Her life dream was to be a teacher. And her instincts kicked in. And protected her children from the harm that was coming.

I'm sure she heard what was going on. And went into lockdown. Her kids, put them in the closet.

And by doing so, she lost her life protecting those little ones. What have you been able to learn from the police or others on the scene? Just that she was a hero.

The way that she was found, huddled over her children. Her students protecting them. You know, doing instinctively what she knew would be the right thing to do.

11:31 A.M. |How to Help the Victims in Newtown

The United Way, in partnership with the Newtown Savings Bank, has set up a “Sandy Hook School Support Fund” to help provide services to the families and community.

United Way extends our most sincere condolences and prayers to all those families affected by the devastating events in Newtown/Sandy Hook, Connecticut. While the eyes of the world may be on Newtown/Sandy Hook, to our staff, volunteers and contributors, Newtown is home. We will stand with the community and everyone affected directly and indirectly by this tragic event as we face the days and weeks ahead.

United Way of Western Connecticut is committed to providing support and resources where and when they become identified and needed. As people from our area and beyond respond to this heartbreaking tragedy, they are turning to United Way looking for ways to help. In response, United Way of Western Connecticut in partnership with Newtown Savings Bank has created the ‘Sandy Hook School Support fund” that will be able to provide support services to the families and community that has been affected.

Check donations may be mailed to:

Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470

Or may be dropped off at any Newtown Savings Bank branch location http://www.nsbonline.com/about-us/locations.aspx

For questions please call 800-461-0672
If you are in need of psychological or other services as a result of the events today, please dial 2-1-1 or click the image below to reach United Way's 24hr hotline for assistance and referral.

Please take a moment of silence to today, and join us in remembering the families in Newtown/Sandy Hook

10:45 A.M. |Police and Fire Audio From School Shooting
Audio from emergency personnel on the morning of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
10:38 A.M. |State Police News Release

The official news release from the Connecticut State Police Department on the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

On 12/14/12, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Newtown Police received a 911 call reporting a possible shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School located at 12 Dickenson Drive in Newtown. Newtown Officers immediately responded and requested assistanc e from Connecticut State Police. Ssurrounding police agencies also sent assistance to the scene. Troopers, both on-duty and off-duty, responded to the scene.

Upon arrival, teams of Troopers and Officers formed “Active Shooter Teams” and immediately entered the school. 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.

Teams encountered several students and staff suffering from gunshot wounds. The building was secured, the ”shooter” was located deceased, and Newtown EMS personnel entered to provide emergency care for the wounded. Eighteen (18) children were pronounced dead at the scene, two children were transported to Danbury Hospital and later pronounced dead. Six (6) adult victims were also pronounced dead at the scene. Teams located the shooter on scene; he was also pronounced dead. The perimeter was also searched and secured by responding law enforcement.

The building was secured and at the request of the Newton Police Chief and Danbury State's Attorney, two Connecticut State Police Major Crime squads responded to conduct the investigation into this crime. Troopers are assisted by Newtown Police Detectives, Danbury State's Attorney, and many Federal, Local, and States Law Enforcement Agencies

The processing of the scene began immediately with documentation of the crime scene and identifying and gathering both physical and forensic evidence. The urgent focus of the Major Crime investigators was to work with the Office of the Chief State' s Medical Examiner to establish the identity of all the deceased victims. This was accomplished overnight and the next of kin were all notified that positive identification was made.

The family of each victim was assigned a Trooper or Officer to establish and maintain an open line of communica tion. This was put into place so families of the victims can have immediate contact related to any questions they may have and to also provide State Police investigators the ability to communicate with families without delay.

The families have requested no press interviews and we are asking that this request be honored.

The deceased victims have been transported to the Office of The Chief State's Medical Examiner where a post mortem examination will be conducted to determine the manner and cause of death.

State Police Major Crime Investigators are continuing to process the school crime scene, gathering evidence and documenting the entire facility. 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.

A second crime scene was located by investigators at a residence on Yogananda Street. A female was located deceased inside the residence. This scene was secured and an additional State Police Major Crime Squad responded to this scene to investigate this incident. Preliminary information determined that the deceased was a relative of the “shooter” at the Elementary School.

Presently, the school scene is still being processed by detectives and it anticipated that this process will take several days. In addition, Troopers are continuing to follow any and all leads in this case utilizing Law Enforcement in-state as well as out of state as required.

Crisis counseling teams are on-site to provide support to the families of all of the victims.

The investigation is continuing.

10:17 A.M. |Official Says All School Victims Have Been Identified

Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police met with reporters around 10:15 a.m. and reported that the all of the 26 shooting victims inside the school have been positively identified. He did not officially identify anyone killed, including the gunman, Adam Lanza, who was also found dead at the school, and Nancy Lanza, mother of the gunman, found shot and killed at her home in Newtown.

Lieutenant Vance said that the investigation shows that the gunman forcibly entered the school. Some earlier media accounts said that the gunman was buzzed into the school.

Lieutenant Vance said that the names of the victims would be made public later today. He pleaded with journalists to respect the privacy of the families. “At the request of all of the family members, they have asked to please protect their privacy,” he said. “They are going through a difficult and trying time.” He s aid a state police trooper has been assigned to each family to “help maintain their solitude.”

“I am pleading with you,” he said. “This is extremely heartbreaking thing for these folks to endure. Please abide by their requests.”

10:13 A.M. |Since 1877, The Newtown Bee Has Covered the Story

Since 1877, The Newtown Bee, has been the local newspaper for this Connecticut town in Fairfield County about 65 miles outside of New York City. And, like a lot of print newspapers, the Bee now shares many of its pictures and news on social media channels, including its own YouTube channel, Facebook page and Twitter account.

With the holidays around the corner, what you find are mostly happy stories and smiling faces about tree decorating and upcoming winter concerts until Friday morning when everything in Newtown changed.

Shannon Hicks from The Newtown Bee was one of the first reporters outside the Sandy Hook Elementary School after the reports came over the police radio about a shooting around 9:30 a.m. The Newtown Bee uploaded onto YouTube the first video from outside the school. Then late Friday night, the staff uploaded this video that compiles images captured around the town in the aftermath of this devastating tragedy.

Scenes in the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Images by Shannon Hicks.

On its Facebook page, people from all over the world now are leaving messages. And its Twitter account is now where people are learning about upcoming prayer services.

9:32 A.M. |ABC News Video: Teacher Describes Saving Students

In an interview with Diane Sawyer of ABC News, Kaitlin Roig, a first grade teacher, describes trying to protect her charges from the gunman inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.

9:12 A.M. |Slain Sandy Hook Principal's School Photos on Twitter

Two days before she died, Dawn Hochsprung, 47, a mother and the principal of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, posted a photo on Twitter of her 4th grade students preparing for their winter concert. A highly respected and beloved educator, Ms. Hochsprung was among the six adults killed on Friday morning, as our colleagues, Sam Dolnick and Michael M. Grynbaum report.

They noted she was “unusually tech savvy” and that she kept an active Twitter feed documenting the school - “In a fourth grade classroom right now,” she wrote in a recent message. She said she was impressed “by the caliber of instruction and by students' deep thinking!”

Ms. Hochsprung's regular updates on Twitter about various school projects and initiatives conveyed pride and enthusiasm for her students and staff. She often used her cellphone to capture images for everyone to see.

The New Haven Register reports that Ms. Hochsprung was able to forge strong relationships with staff, students and parents, according to her former boss, Robert Cronin, now the North Haven Schools Superintendent.

“She was very committed to children,” Mr. Cronin told the New Haven Register. “She really took her work very seriously…Really what she wanted was to develop and establish a really good school and a place for you ngsters, and I think she worked to that end every day. She was a very hard worker and I think really understood kids and families very well.

“Parents liked her a great deal. Parents loved her in Bethlehem,” Mr. Cronin said, referring to one of the elementary schools she led before taking over Sandy Hook in June 2010. “She was an important member of the administrative team there when I was there.”

8:17 A.M. |Video: President Obama's Weekly Address

In his weekly address. President Obama said the nation's thoughts and pra yers are with those who lost a loved one during Friday's tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn.

President Obama's Weekly Address