Story Summary

Connecticut school shooting

conn school shooting

On Friday, Dec. 14, a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., killing 20 children and six adults.  Police said all of the children killed were 6 or 7 years old.

The suspect, identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, fatally shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, in her home before heading to the school, said police.

The tragedy is the second worst school shooting in U.S. history.  It follows the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, which claimed 32 lives.

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(CNN) — The father of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza said his son would have killed him if he’d had the opportunity.

“With hindsight, I know Adam would have killed me in a heartbeat, if he’d had the chance,” Peter Lanza told New Yorker magazine in an interview that appears in the March 17 issue.

It’s the first time Peter Lanza has spoken publicly about his son.

“The reason he shot Nancy four times was one for each of us: one for Nancy; one for him; one for (his brother) Ryan; one for me,” he said.

Authorities say Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother, Nancy, before fatally shooting 20 children, six staff members and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

Peter Lanza said his son talked with many mental health professionals but none saw violent tendencies in his personality.

He said he may have overlooked troubling signs himself by accepting a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, though he doesn’t think Asperger’s caused the violence.

“Asperger’s makes people unusual, but it doesn’t make people like this,” he said.

He also said his ex-wife didn’t detect the potential for violence.

“She never confided to her sister or best friend about being worried,” he said. “She slept with her bedroom door unlocked and kept guns in the house, which she would not have done if she were frightened.”

Peter Lanza said he thought his son was “a normal, weird little kid” but by the time he reached middle school “it was crystal clear something was wrong.”

“The social awkwardness, the uncomfortable anxiety, unable to sleep, stress, unable to concentrate, having a hard time learning, the awkward walk, reduced eye contact,” he said. “You could see the changes occurring.”

He said he thinks about his son and the massacre every waking hour.

“You can’t get any more evil,” he said. “How much do I beat up on myself about the fact that he’s my son? A lot.”

He said he’s offered to meet victims of the shooting and two families took him up on the offer.

“It’s gut-wrenching,” he said. “A victim’s family member told me that they forgave Adam after we spent three hours talking. I didn’t even know how to respond. A person that lost their son, their only son.”

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From Steve Almasy and Jason Hanna
(CNN) — Some audio recordings of 911 calls from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were released to the news media Wednesday afternoon.

The release of the calls, made to Newtown, Connecticut, police on the day of the December 2012 shooting, came after the Associated Press challenged authorities’ refusal to release the 911 tapes.

Calls to the state police in Litchfield are not a part of this group of recordings.

Last week, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Eliot Prescott upheld the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission’s ruling to release calls related to the December 14, 2012 shooting. A state attorney had tried to block the release to shield the victims’ families.

[FOX59 News has chosen not to air the recordings out of respects for the victims’ families.]

The massacre at Sandy Hook left 26 people dead, including 20 children, making it the second-deadliest shooting in U.S. history.

The gunman, Adam Lanza, shot himself at the end of his 11-minute rampage.

The killings in Newtown, about 60 miles outside New York, happened less than five months after a similar bloodbath at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, outside Denver.

Those mass slayings triggered a nationwide debate over gun violence, school safety and mental health, a debate that produced some new restrictions on firearms in several states.

Backlash by gun-rights advocates followed.

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(CNN) — A report on the investigation into the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting will be released Monday, Connecticut state officials announced.

The report will provide a summary of the almost yearlong investigation of the December 14, 2012, shooting that left 26 people dead, including 20 children.

The summary of the second-deadliest shooting in U.S. history is expected to be about 50 pages long, said Mark Dupuis, a spokesman for Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky, whose office conducted the investigation.

Victims’ family members have been informed of the report, Dupuis told CNN on Friday.

Dupuis declined to provide details about when, where, and how the families were given the details of the report.

“We are sensitive to the needs of the families, and those needs are being addressed,” Dupuis said.

The family of Virginia Soto, a teacher who shielded her students before being shot to death, said the release of the report is “yet another blow that our family has been dealt.”

A statement from the family said, “While others search for the answer as to why this happened, we search for the how. How can we live without Vicki? How do we celebrate Christmas without Vicki? How do we go on every day missing a piece of our family? Those are the questions we seek the answers for. There is nothing in the report that will answer those for us.”

The report, which will be available on the office’s website Monday afternoon, is separate from a much longer evidence file that Connecticut State Police will release at an unspecified date.

The shooter, identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, killed his mother before opening fire at the school. He then killed himself, officials said. His mother’s body was found at the family’s Newtown residence.

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– The sister of a victim of the Newtown school shootings visited Indianapolis Friday, calling for more gun control. 

Carlee Soto’s sister, Victoria, was among the 26 people who were killed in the December 14 shootings at the elementary school.

Soto attended a rally at Douglass Park, as part of the “National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence Bus Tour.” She’s calling for Sen. Dan Coats to reconsider his position on gun control.

Advocates are calling for the government to extend background checks to all commercial gun sales, including online and at gun shows.

“I urge all the ones who didn’t vote for this bill to take another look at it and to take our feelings into consideration, because until you have to feel what our families feel and until you lose someone to gun violence,” said Soto. “You won’t understand what we’re going through and you won’t understand that something needs to happen now.”

Sen. Joe Donnelly has already thrown his support behind bipartisan legislation for more background checks.

The nationwide bus tour is a part of the “Mayors against Illegal Guns” organization. The tour will visit 25 states over a period of 100 days.

INDIANAPOLIS – Local first responders and state agencies conducted a mass shooting training exercise at Lynhurst 7th and 8th Grade Center on Friday.

Shane Hardwick, EMS operations officer for the Wayne Township Fire Department, started planning the training exercise nine months ago, before the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

“There (have) been 62 (mass shootings) since 1982. There (have) been 25 since 2006 and in 2012 alone there (were) seven mass shootings. Every 52 days, somewhere in America, there was a mass shooting,” Hardwick said. “This is something that’s becoming more and more prevalent in our society, and we really don’t have a whole lot of training statewide that addresses that issue.”

The drill consisted of a fake shooter and a total of 30 injured children and adults. First, officers located and apprehended the suspect. Then, a number of emergency crews evaluated the victims. After that, crews identified who was critically injured and who was not critically injured. High-priority patients were taken to the hospital.

“The point of this is moving a mass (number) of people that are injured from where the injury occurred (and) to get them on the way to the hospital,” Hardwick said.

Hardwick said Friday’s training was about practice, communication, and working together—no matter where the help came from. He told Fox 59 that he listened to the audio from the July 2012 Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting, using what he learned to prepare for the exercise.

“The decisions made in the first couple minutes of the incident in Colorado really set the tone and really slowed down the entire process,” Hardwick said.

During the training, emergency crews talked about what they learned. Hardwick said the exercise will be reviewed and discussed among several agencies. About ten agencies participated in the training, including the Department of Education, Homeland Security, police departments and fire departments.

“For us it’s a matter of getting some practice (and) letting them get familiar with our building, and I think there’s an advantage to that,” said Dan Wilson, principal of Lynhurst 7th & 8th Grade Center.

Wilson’s school hosted the training at the request of the Wayne Township Fire Department. The date marked the six-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre—a tragedy that Wilson said prompted a review of his school’s security plans.

“Those folks are still in our thoughts and our prayers. It’s horrible,” Wilson said. “As a parent or as a principal, you never want to ever imagine your kids in a tragedy like that, but at the same time you have to be responsible and you have to step up and be as prepared as you can be.”

Wilson said he planned to inform the school district about what he learned during the exercise.

“We want them (the community) to see we are looking out for kids,” Wilson said.

Six teachers who gave their lives trying to protect Sandy Hook students have received a special honor.

Medal of Honor recipients honored Rachel D’Avino, Dawn, Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlac and Victoria Soto with the Citizen Service Before Self Honors Medal at a special ceremony Monday.

The recipients also honored all teachers and staff with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Certificate fo Commendation.

“Many teachers and staff members disregarded their own safety that day to hide and protect the children in their care.  Those acts of courage, sacrifice, and selflessness are the very same traits identified with the Medal of Honor; only they were demonstrated at a critical moment in hometown USA, not on a battlefield far from home,” said Harold A. Fritz, President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

“Recognizing these ordinary Americans who performed extraordinary acts at home is the very reason for our Citizen Honors program.”

Every year, the Society’s Citizen Honors program takes nominations for hometown citizen heroes who’ve saved lives or changed fate.

This year’s nominations period closed at the end of 2012, and dozens of nominations were made for teachers and staff from the Sandy Hook school following the December 14th shootings.

After two rounds of judging, four other Citizen Honorees were awarded Medals on March 25 of this year – Medal of Honor Day – at Arlington National Cemetery.  The Society decided the Sandy Hook heroes should be recognized separately with a special ceremony in Newtown.

by Ted Barrett and Tom Cohen


WASHINGTON (CNN) — In a major defeat for supporters of tougher gun laws, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday defeated a compromise proposal to expand background checks on firearms sales.

The bipartisan plan brokered by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, was backed by President Barack Obama in his push for a package of gun laws in the aftermath of the Newtown school massacre.

However, fierce opposition by the powerful National Rifle Association led a backlash by conservative Republicans and a few Democrats from pro-gun states that doomed the amendment to the broader package of legislation.

Due to procedural steps by Republican opponents, the amendment required 60 votes to pass in the 100-member chamber, meaning Democrats and their Independent allies who hold 55 seats needed support from some GOP senators to push them through.

The final vote was 54 in favor to 46 opposed with two Republicans joining most Democrats in supporting the compromise.

The overall gun legislation includes tougher laws on gun trafficking and straw purchases, and steps to devise ways to improve safety in schools.

It would be the most significant gun legislation before Congress in almost two decades, and comes four months after the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 first-graders and six educators.

Obama pushed hard for Congress to include expanded background checks in any gun package and the White House campaigned in support of the Manchin-Toomey compromise.

However, the NRA promised political retribution against supporters of tougher gun laws.

“You may not win today … but I will say that you did the right thing,” veteran GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona said in praising Manchin and Toomey tor political courage in proposing their compromise. McCain was one of three Republicans who supported the compromise.

Manchin earlier sounded resigned to defeat, telling his colleagues that regardless of how the chamber votes, the issue of background checks “is not going to go away.”

The NRA has said an expanded background check system would be the first step toward a national gun registry and therefore a violation of the constitutional right to bear arms.

Manchin and other supporters rejected that claim, noting the compromise amendment prohibited a national gun registry and criminalizes misusing background check data for that purpose.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned Republicans that the strong majority of Americans who support expanded background checks won’t forget votes against the Manchin-Toomey compromise.

“The American people … have a long, long memory,” he said.

Meanwhile, conservative Republicans proposed an alternative package of gun laws that reflected the NRA position.

The GOP plan, introduced Wednesday after weeks of hearings and debate on Democratic proposals, lacked any expansion of background checks but called for more funding to better enforce the existing system.

A sponsor of the Republican alternative, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, said it would target the gun violence problem in a way that the Democratic proposal before the Senate would not.

In response, Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vermont, called the GOP’s last-minute proposal a “weak and counterproductive alternative.”

Other proposed amendments to the gun package sent to the Senate by Leahy’s committee include a ban on semi-automatic firearms modeled after military assault weapons sponsored by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, and a plan by Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to make state concealed weapons permits acceptable throughout the country.

The Senate debate was expected to last several days and any legislation passed would then go to the Republican-led House. So far, House Speaker John Boehner has stopped short of promising a vote on whatever the Senate sends over.

Obama and others have been highlighting daily gun violence in America in their appeal to lawmakers for stricter limits.

Many in Washington have coalesced around expanding background checks conducted on gun sales. However, settling on the exact mechanism of such a step has been difficult in a sharply divided political climate, with the NRA leading a strong lobbying effort against proposed changes.

Few amendments may pass

The Manchin-Toomey proposal would have extend background checks to private transactions at gun shows and all Internet sales.

Reid, D-Nevada, said last month that Feinstein’s revised ban on some semiautomatic weapons, which was approved by the Judiciary Committee with no Republican support, had no chance of passing.

He agreed to allow Feinstein to propose it as an amendment instead of including it in the legislative package from the judiciary panel.

Polls support background checks

Polls show that a strong majority of Americans support some type of initiative to stem gun violence. In a CNN/ORC International poll released last week, 86% of Americans say they support expanded background checks.

However, a majority of Americans also fear that increased background checks would lead to a federal registry of gun owners that could allow the government to take away legally owned weapons.

White House spokesman Jay Carney called any claim that the Manchin-Toomey plan would lead to a federal gun registry and confiscation of firearms “absurd and false and wrong.”

“The legislation itself prohibits that,” he said, adding “what should be clear to those senators who are considering this, because it’s clear to the American people, is that this is common sense.”

CNN’s Ed Payne contributed to this report.

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(CNN) — Police released new documents related to the shootings last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, but a motive for the attack remained elusive.

Included in the new information is the report that a gun safe was found in the bedroom of 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who took guns belonging to his mother, Nancy, and shot her in her forehead in her bed. Then he went to the school in Newtown, where he gunned down 20 children and six staff members before killing himself.

Investigators found more than 1,400 rounds of ammunition in the house, and a holiday card with a check “made out to Adam Lanza for the purchase of a C183 (firearm), authored by Nancy Lanza,” according to a search warrant.

Relatives of the victims were briefed Wednesday about the documents, which were released Thursday morning.

Some of the documents, released by state prosecutors, have been redacted at the prosecutors’ request, said Paul Vance, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Police.

State police are continuing their investigation, which is not expected to be completed until June, he said.

The killings have led Connecticut legislators to re-examine the state’s gun laws, which are among the nation’s strictest, and have reopened a national debate on gun control.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, has announced plans to introduce legislation requiring background checks to purchase ammunition. He has pressured members of his state legislature to take action to bolster his efforts on a national level.

CNN’s Susan Candiotti and Samira Jafari contributed to this report.

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INDIANAPOLIS– Youth leaders and community organizers, who work with children and young adults before or after school and on the weekends, are invited to attend a free forum to learn how to react in unexpected or violent situations.

“With the fact that there was a shooting in Newtown, interest is high and one of the ways that youth serving agencies provide a high quality experience for children is to make sure they have a save environment,” said Glenn Augustine, Indiana Youth Institute. “So this is a way for us to bring in an expert about this topic and determine if those are pieces that they want to incorporate into their own plans.”

A police officer will describe ways to react in the event that a shooter is on the loose in a building with children and how to prevent an attack from happening. Participants will learn about the five steps in the A.L.I.C.E program, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Escape.

Experts in suicide prevention will offer ways to identify children, who may be suffering from issues after a traumatic incident like school violence.

The Indiana Youth Institute has already hosted a similar event in Northern Indiana and has other upcoming events on its calendar that offer resources to people who work with children.

The event is at 11:30 a.m. at the Athenaeum Foundation, which is located at 401 E. Michigan St.

(CNN) — The shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School may have been motivated by a desire by Adam Lanza to outdo Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian man who killed 77 people in July 2011, law enforcement sources told CBS Evening News.

The unnamed sources said Lanza saw himself as being in direct competition with Breivik, who killed eight with a bombing in downtown Oslo before he moved to a nearby island where he hunted down and fatally shot 69 people.

According to the sources, the 20-year-old Lanza wanted to top Breivik’s death toll and went to the Connecticut school on December 14 because it was the “easiest target” and had the “largest cluster of people.”

Video games to blame?

The same officials also linked Lanza’s actions to violent video games.

The officials, who have been briefed on the Newtown, Connecticut, investigation, told CBS that evidence shows Lanza was likely acting out the fantasies of a video game in killing 20 children and six adults at the school.

Lanza’s mother, Nancy, also was found shot dead at her Newtown home. Police believe Lanza killed his mother first before beginning his school rampage.

He took his own life with a handgun as authorities closed in.

Police dismiss report

A spokesman for the Connecticut State Police dismissed the CBS report, calling it speculation.

“It’s inaccurate … I talked with CBS and told them that,” Lt. Paul Vance told CNN. “We are dealing with a deceased shooter and trying to rebuild history.”

Vance, however, did not dismiss the notion that investigators may have looked at the Norway shooting.

“We’ll look at everything,” Vance said. “One thing leads to another.”

Authorities have been largely tight-lipped about their investigation.

Hundreds of state troopers, detectives and other law enforcement personnel are analyzing every round of ammunition fired, examining the gunman’s medical history and computer use, and talking to witnesses, Vance said previously.

A final report on the Newtown shooting is expected this summer.

The Norway attacks

July 22, 2011, will live long in the memory of all Norwegians after the carnage that unfolded that day.

After detonating a bomb outside the prime minister’s office in Oslo, killing eight people, Breivik took a ferry to Utoya Island and embarked on a shooting spree that took the lives of another 69 people attending a youth camp.

Authorities said Breivik roamed the island shooting at campers, before members of an elite Norwegian police unit took him into custody.

In August 2012, Breivik, who boasted of being an ultranationalist who killed his victims to fight multiculturalism in Norway, was judged to be sane at the time of the attack.

He was convicted of voluntary homicide and committing acts of terror and sentenced to 21 years in prison.

CNN’s Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.