Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting

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Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting

Police arrive in front of the elementary school after the shooting.
LocationSandy Hook, Connecticut, U.S.
Coordinates41°25′12″N 73°16′43″W / 41.42000°N 73.27861°W / 41.42000; -73.27861Coordinates: 41°25′12″N 73°16′43″W / 41.42000°N 73.27861°W / 41.42000; -73.27861[1]
DateDecember 14, 2012
c. 9:30 am – c. 9:40 am[2][3][4] EST (UTC−05:00)
TargetStudents and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School
Attack typeSchool shooting, murder–suicide, matricide, spree shooting
Weapon(s)Bushmaster XM15-E2S
Glock 20SF
Deaths28 total; 27 at the school (including perpetrator) and perpetrator's mother (at home)[5][6]
Injured (non-fatal)2[7]
PerpetratorAdam Peter Lanza[8][9]
DefenderDawn Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Leigh Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel D’Avino, Anne Marie Murphy (all unarmed; all posthumous recipients of Presidential Citizens Medal)[10]
MotiveUnknown
 
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Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting

Police arrive in front of the elementary school after the shooting.
LocationSandy Hook, Connecticut, U.S.
Coordinates41°25′12″N 73°16′43″W / 41.42000°N 73.27861°W / 41.42000; -73.27861Coordinates: 41°25′12″N 73°16′43″W / 41.42000°N 73.27861°W / 41.42000; -73.27861[1]
DateDecember 14, 2012
c. 9:30 am – c. 9:40 am[2][3][4] EST (UTC−05:00)
TargetStudents and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School
Attack typeSchool shooting, murder–suicide, matricide, spree shooting
Weapon(s)Bushmaster XM15-E2S
Glock 20SF
Deaths28 total; 27 at the school (including perpetrator) and perpetrator's mother (at home)[5][6]
Injured (non-fatal)2[7]
PerpetratorAdam Peter Lanza[8][9]
DefenderDawn Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Leigh Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel D’Avino, Anne Marie Murphy (all unarmed; all posthumous recipients of Presidential Citizens Medal)[10]
MotiveUnknown

On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot twenty children and six adult staff members in a mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the village of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut.[5][6] Before driving to the school, Lanza shot and killed his mother Nancy at their Newtown home.[8][11][12] As first responders arrived, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

It was the second deadliest mass shooting by a single person in American history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, and the second deadliest mass murder at a U.S. elementary school, after the 1927 Bath School bombings in Michigan.[13][14]

The incident prompted renewed debate about gun control in the United States, and a proposal for new legislation banning the sale and manufacture of certain types of semi-automatic firearms and magazines with more than ten rounds of ammunition.[15]

A November 2013 report issued by the Connecticut State Attorney's office concluded that the perpetrator acted alone and planned his actions, but no evidence collected provided any indication as to why he did so, or why he targeted Sandy Hook Elementary School.[16]

Background

As of November 30, 2012, 456 children were enrolled in kindergarten through fourth grade at Sandy Hook Elementary School.[17] The school's security protocol had recently been upgraded, requiring visitors to be individually admitted after visual and identification review by video monitor. Doors to the school were locked at 9:30 am each day, after morning arrivals.[18]

Newtown is located in Fairfield County, Connecticut, about 60 miles (97 km) outside New York City.[19] Violent crime had been rare in the town of 28,000 residents; there was only one homicide in the town in the ten years prior to the school shooting.[20]

Shooting

Some time before 9:30 a.m. EST on Friday December 14, 2012, Lanza shot and killed his mother Nancy Lanza, aged 52, at their Newtown home with a .22-caliber Savage MK II-F rifle.[12] Investigators later found her body clad in pajamas, in her bed, with four gunshot wounds to her head.[21] Lanza then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School.[11][12]

Red circle: Sandy Hook Elementary School
Black circle: Lanza household

Shortly after 9:30 am, using his mother's Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle,[22][23][24] Lanza shot his way through a glass panel next to the locked front entrance doors of the school.[25][26][27] He was wearing black clothing, earplugs, an olive green utility vest, and was carrying magazines for the rifle.[28][29] Initial reports that he had been wearing body armor were incorrect.[30] Some of those present heard initial shots on the school intercom system, which was being used for morning announcements.[18]

Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach were meeting with other faculty members when they heard gunshots. Hochsprung, Sherlach, and lead teacher Natalie Hammond immediately left the room, rushed to the source of the sounds, and encountered and confronted Lanza. A faculty member who was at the meeting said that the three women called out "Shooter! Stay put!" which alerted their colleagues to the danger and saved their lives.[31] A teacher hiding in the math lab heard the school janitor Rick Thorne unsuccessfully try to make Lanza leave the school. Thorne yelled "Put the gun down!" the teacher then heard more gunshots, but Thorne survived.[32] Lanza killed both Hochsprung and Sherlach.[33] Hammond was hit first in the leg, and then sustained another gunshot wound. She lay still in the hallway and then, not hearing any more noise, crawled back to the conference room and pressed her body against the door to keep it closed.[34] She was later treated at Danbury Hospital.[33][35]

A nine-year-old boy has stated that he heard the shooter say: "Put your hands up!", and someone else say "Don't shoot!", as well as people yelling, and many gunshots over the intercom, while he, his classmates, and teacher took refuge in a closet in the gymnasium.[36] Diane Day, a school therapist who had been at the faculty meeting with Hochsprung, heard screaming followed by more gunshots. A second teacher, who was a substitute kindergarten teacher, was wounded in the attack. While she was closing a door further down the hallway, she was hit in the foot with a bullet that ricocheted; Lanza never entered her classroom.[7][37][38]

After killing Hochsprung and Sherlach, Lanza entered the main office but apparently did not see the people hiding there, and returned to the hallway.[27] Lanza then entered a first-grade classroom where Lauren Rousseau, a substitute teacher, had herded her first grade students to the back of the room and was trying to hide them in a bathroom when Lanza forced his way into the classroom.[37] Rousseau, behavioral therapist Rachel D'Avino who had been employed for a week at the school to work with a special needs student, and fifteen students in Rousseau's class were all killed. Fourteen of the children were dead at the scene, one injured child was taken to a hospital for treatment but was later declared dead.[34] Most of the teachers and students were found crowded together in the bathroom.[39] A six-year-old girl was the sole survivor and was found by police in the classroom following the shooting.[34] The surviving girl was hidden in one of the corners of the classroom's bathroom during the shooting.[40] The girl's family pastor said that she survived the mass shooting by remaining still, and playing dead. When she reached her mother she said: "Mommy, I'm okay, but all my friends are dead." The child described the shooter as "a very angry man".[41][42]

Lanza next went to another first-grade classroom nearby, where there are conflicting reports about the order of events. According to some reports, the classroom's teacher Victoria Leigh Soto had concealed some of the students in a closet or bathroom, and some of the other students were hiding under desks.[37] Soto was walking back to the classroom door to lock it when Lanza entered the classroom.[43] Lanza walked to the back of the classroom, saw the children under the desks and shot them. First grader Jesse Lewis shouted at his classmates to run for safety, which several of them did. Lewis was looking directly at Lanza when Lanza fatally shot him.[43] Another account, given by a surviving child's father, said that Soto had moved the children to the back of the classroom and that they were seated on the floor when Lanza entered. According to this account, neither Lanza nor any of the occupants of the classroom spoke. Lanza stared at the people on the floor, pointed the gun at a boy seated there, but did not fire at the boy, who ultimately survived. As Lanza reloaded the gun, according to this account, several of the children ran past him for safety.[44] The children who ran out of the classroom escaped, possibly due to Lanza's rifle jamming, or when he erred in reloading it.[37][45][46][47] Earlier reports said that as Lanza entered her classroom, Soto reportedly told him that the children were in the auditorium. When several of the children came out of their hiding places and tried to run for safety, Lanza fatally shot them. Soto put herself between her students and the shooter, who then fatally shot her.[46] Anne Marie Murphy, a teacher's aide who worked with special-needs students in Soto's classroom, shielded six-year-old Dylan Hockley with her body, trying to protect him from the bullets that killed them both.[48][49] Soto was found deceased near the north wall of the classroom with a set of keys nearby.[34] Four children were found dead in the classroom; one injured child was taken to the hospital, but was later declared dead.[34] Six surviving children from Soto's class and a school bus driver took refuge at a nearby home.[50] According to the official summary report released by the state's attorney, nine children in all ran from Soto's classroom and survived, while two children were found by police hiding in a bathroom in the classroom.[34] In all, eleven children from Soto's class survived.[43] Five of Soto's students were killed.[51]

School nurse Sally Cox,[52] 60, hid under a desk in her office. She later described seeing the door opening and Lanza's boots and legs facing her desk from approximately 20 feet (6.1 m) away. He remained standing for a few seconds before turning around and leaving. She and the school secretary Barbara Halstead called 9-1-1 and hid in a first-aid supply closet for up to four hours.[53] Custodian Rick Thorne ran through hallways, alerting classrooms.[54]

First grade teacher Kaitlin Roig, aged 29, hid 14 students in a bathroom and barricaded the door, telling them to be completely quiet to remain safe.[55][56] Lanza is believed to have bypassed her classroom, which was the first classroom on the left side of the hallway, because, following a lockdown drill weeks earlier, Roig failed to remove a piece of black construction paper covering the small window in her classroom door. Lanza may have believed that Roig's classroom was empty because the door was closed and the window was covered.[37]

School library staff Yvonne Cech and Maryann Jacob first hid 18 children in a part of the library the school used for lockdown in practice drills. Discovering that one door would not lock, they had the children crawl into a storage room, where Cech barricaded the door with a filing cabinet.[5][36][57]

Music teacher Maryrose Kristopik, 50, barricaded her fourth-graders in a tiny supply closet during the rampage.[58] Lanza arrived moments later, pounding and yelling "Let me in", while the students in Kristopik's class quietly hid inside.[59]

Two third graders, chosen as classroom helpers, were walking down the hallway to the office to deliver the morning attendance sheet as the shooting began. Teacher Abbey Clements pulled both children into her classroom, where they hid.[60]

Laura Feinstein, a reading specialist at the school, gathered two students from outside her classroom and hid with them under desks after they heard gunshots.[61] Feinstein called the school office and tried to call 9–1–1 but could not connect because of lack of reception on her cell phone. She hid with the children for approximately 40 minutes, before law enforcement came to lead them out of the room.[62]

The police heard the final shot at 9:40:03 a.m, and believe that it was Lanza shooting himself in the lower rear portion of his head with the Glock 20SF in classroom 10.[63] Lanza was found wearing a pale green pocket vest over a black polo shirt, over a black T-shirt, black sneakers, black fingerless gloves, black socks, and a black canvas belt.[63][64] Also found in the vicinity of Lanza was a black boonie hat, and thin frame glasses. The Glock was found apparently jammed near the shooter, and the Bushmaster was found several feet away from the shooter.[63] A 9mm Sig Sauer P226 (which was not fired during the incident) was found on the shooter's person.[65]

Authorities determined that Lanza reloaded frequently during the shootings, sometimes firing only fifteen rounds from a thirty-round magazine.[29] He shot all but two of his victims multiple times.[66] Initial reports stated that one victim, six-year-old Noah Pozner, was shot 11 times, but Pozner's father disputed this, citing the medical examiner’s report. He said that Noah had been shot "multiple" times, but declined to give an exact figure.[67] Most of the shooting took place in two first-grade classrooms near the entrance of the school.[68] The student victims were eight boys and twelve girls, between six and seven years of age,[69] and the six adults were all women who worked at the school. Bullets were also found in at least three cars parked outside the school, leading police to believe that he was firing at a teacher who was standing near a window.[29][37] When police interviewed children, a little girl recalled hearing one of her classmates say "Help me! I don't want to be here!" Lanza replied "Well you're here." Others could hear Lanza curse at his victims saying; "Look at me!" and "Come over here!" and "Look at them!"[70]

First response

First Response Timeline [34]
TimeEvent
9:30 amShooter is believed to first enter SHES.
9:35:39 amFirst 911 call to Newtown Police is received.
9:36:06 am911 dispatcher broadcasts shooting at SHES.
9:37:38 amConnecticut State Police dispatched to SHES.
9:39:00 amFirst Newtown police arrives behind SHES.
9:39:13 amTwo more Newtown officers arrive at SHES.
9:40:03 amLast shot heard. Believed to be shooter suicide.
9:42:39 amNewtown police reports shooter's car license plate.
9:44:47 amNewtown police officers enter SHES.
9:46:23 amConnecticut State Police arrive at SHES.
9:46:48 amConnecticut State Police enter SHES.

The first call to 911 was around 9:35 am, approximately three to five minutes after the shooter had entered the building. Newtown 911 police dispatch first broadcasts that there is a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary (SHES) at 9:36 am about thirty seconds after they received the first call.[71] Connecticut State Police (CSP) are dispatched at 9:37 am.[55] Newtown police arrived at the school street at 9:39 am, approximately four and a half minutes after the 911 call and Connecticut State Police arrive to the school street at 9:46 am. Newtown police first entered the school at 9:45 am, approximately ten minutes after the first 911 call and approximately fourteen minutes after the shooting had started. Police entry into the school is approximately five minutes after the last shot is heard; when the shooter is believed to have committed suicide.[34] No shots were fired by the police.[3][72]

The Newtown police and Connecticut State Police mobilized local police dog and police tactical units, a bomb squad, and a state police helicopter.[73] Police locked down the school and began evacuating the survivors room by room, escorting groups of students and adults away from the school. They swept the school for additional shooters at least four times.

At approximately 10:00 am, Danbury Hospital scrambled extra medical personnel in expectation of having to treat numerous victims. Three wounded patients were evacuated to the hospital, where two children were later declared dead.[74] The other was an unidentified adult.[7]

The New York City medical examiner dispatched a portable morgue to assist the authorities.[18] The victims' bodies were removed from the school and formally identified during the night after the shooting.[75][76] A state trooper was assigned to each victim's family to protect their privacy and provide them with information.

On December 4, 2013, seven 911 calls relating to the shooting were made public.[77]

Investigation

On-site

Investigators did not find a suicide note or any messages referring to the planning of the attack.[64][78] Janet Robinson, superintendent of Newtown schools, said she had not found any connection between Lanza's mother and the school in contrast to initial media reports that stated Lanza's mother had worked there.[5][79] Police also investigated whether Lanza was the person who had been in an altercation with four staff members at Sandy Hook School the day before the massacre. It was presumed that he killed two of the four staff members involved in the altercation (the principal and the psychologist) and wounded the third (the lead teacher) in the attack; the fourth staff member was not at the school that day.[80] The state police stated that they did not know of any reports about any altercations at the school.[81]

Police sources initially reported Lanza's sibling, Ryan Lanza, as the perpetrator. This was likely because the perpetrator was carrying his brother's identification, Ryan told The Jersey Journal.[82] Lanza's brother voluntarily submitted to questioning by New Jersey State Police, Connecticut State Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Police said he was not considered a suspect, and he was not taken into custody.[11][83] Ryan Lanza said he had not been in touch with his brother since 2010.[84][85] Connecticut State Police indicated their concern about misinformation being posted on social media sites and threatened prosecution of anyone involved with such activities.[86]

A large quantity of unused ammunition was recovered inside the school along with three semi-automatic firearms found with Lanza: a .223-caliber Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle (with a 30 round magazine), a 10mm Glock 20SF handgun, and a 9mm SIG Sauer P226 handgun.[21][22][23][24][87] Outside the school, an Izhmash Saiga-12 shotgun was found in the car Lanza had driven.[22][24]

Shortly after the shooting, police announced that Lanza used the rifle to kill the victims at the school.[88] At a press conference on December 15, Dr. H. Wayne Carver II, the Chief Medical Examiner of Connecticut, was asked about the wounds, and replied "All the ones that I know of at this point were caused by the long weapon."[5][89][90] When asked if the children suffered before dying, Carver replied by stating that "If so, not for very long".[91] Under Connecticut law at the time,[92] the 20-year-old Lanza was old enough to carry a long gun, such as a rifle or shotgun,[93] but too young to own or carry handguns.[94]

On March 28, 2013, court documents released from the investigation showed that the school shooting had occurred in the space of less than five minutes with 156 shots fired. This comprised 154 shots from the rifle and two shots from the 10mm pistol used by Adam Lanza to kill himself, one in the hall and one through his head.[95][96]

Off-site

Investigators evaluated Lanza's body, looking for evidence of drugs or medication through toxicology tests.[97] Additionally, although unusual for an investigation of this type and unlikely to provide conclusive information, DNA testing of Lanza was utilized.[98] Although the testing was supposedly being done at the University of Connecticut, a January 2013 article in The Daily Campus revealed that neither the UConn genetics department nor the UConn Health Center in Farmington were aware of any such testing.[99] Lanza's autopsy showed no tumors or gross deformities in his brain.[100]

Lanza removed the hard drive from his computer and damaged it prior to the shooting, creating a challenge for investigators to recover data.[101] At the time of publication of the final report, it had not been possible to recover data from it.[64] Police believe that Lanza extensively researched earlier mass shootings, including the 2011 Norway attacks and the 2006 Amish school shooting at a one-room school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.[37][102] Police found that Lanza had downloaded videos relating to the Columbine High School massacre, other shootings and two videos of suicide by gunshot.[103]

Details of the investigation were reported by law enforcement officials at a meeting of the International Association of Police Chiefs and Colonels held during the week of March 11, 2013. An article published in the New York Daily News on March 17, 2013, provided purported details of this report by an anonymous law enforcement veteran who had attended the meeting.[104] The source stated that the investigation had found that Lanza had created a 7-by-4-foot sized spreadsheet listing around 500 mass murderers and the weapons they used, which was considered to have taken years of work and to have been used by Lanza as a "score sheet".[104] On March 18, 2013, Lt. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police responded that the information from this meeting was "law enforcement sensitive information" and considered the release to be a leak.[105]

The March 28 documents also provided details on items found at Lanza's home, including three samurai swords, a newspaper article about the Northern Illinois University shooting, and a National Rifle Association certificate.[95] The NRA denied that Adam Lanza or Nancy Lanza were members and reporters noted that the NRA site provides training certificate completion templates for courses offered by NRA affiliated instructors.[106] A gun safe was found in a bedroom and investigators found more than 1,400 rounds of ammunition and other firearms.[107] At home, Lanza had access to three more firearms: a .45 Henry rifle, a .30 Enfield rifle, and a .22 Marlin rifle.[13][108][109][110] These were legally owned by Lanza's mother who was described as a gun enthusiast.[111][112]

According to the New York Times, law enforcement officials commented that Adam Lanza would spend most of his time in his basement doing solitary activities. Some of which include playing video games, one of which was the warfare game Call of Duty. According to these officials, it also appeared that Lanza "may have taken target practice in the basement".[113]

Final report

The final report summarizing the investigation into the shooting was published on November 25, 2013. It concluded that Adam Lanza had acted alone, and that the case was closed. The report noted that "[Lanza] had a familiarity with and access to firearms and ammunition and an obsession with mass murders, in particular the April 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado." The report did not identify a specific motive for the shooting, stating "The evidence clearly shows that the shooter planned his actions, including the taking of his own life, but there is no clear indication why he did so, or why he targeted Sandy Hook elementary school."[16][114] On the question of Lanza's state of mind, the report noted "significant mental health issues that affected his ability to live a normal life and to interact with others, even those to whom he should have been close... What contribution this made to the shootings, if any, is unknown as those mental health professionals who saw him did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior." The report found no evidence that Lanza had taken drugs or medication that would have affected his behavior, and observed "'Why did the shooter murder twenty-seven people, including twenty children?’ Unfortunately, that question may never be answered conclusively, despite the collection of extensive background information on the shooter through a multitude of interviews and other sources."[64][115]

On December 27, 2013, police released thousands of pages of documents pertaining to the investigation. In accordance with law, the names of victims and witnesses were redacted or withheld. The summary report included information about items found on Lanza's computer, including writings and personal beliefs.[116] A former teacher of Adam Lanza noted that he exhibited anti-social behavior, rarely interacted with other students and was obsessed with writing "about battles, destruction and war."[117]

Perpetrator

Adam Lanza
Adam lanza sandy hook shooter.jpg
Lanza's yearbook photo
BornAdam Peter Lanza
(1992-04-22)April 22, 1992
Kingston, New Hampshire, U.S.
DiedDecember 14, 2012(2012-12-14) (aged 20)
Newtown, Connecticut, U.S.
Cause of death
Self-inflicted gunshot
NationalityAmerican
OccupationNone
MotiveInconclusive

Adam Peter Lanza (April 22, 1992 – December 14, 2012) and his mother lived in Sandy Hook, 5 miles (8 km) from the elementary school.[118] He did not have a criminal record.[8][119][120] He attended Sandy Hook Elementary School for a brief time.[121] Afterward, he attended St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Newtown,[122] and then Newtown High School, where he was an honors student.[123] He was taken out of high school at the age of sixteen, and began attending Western Connecticut State University shortly thereafter.[124] Subsequent to his removal from high school, Lanza was home-schooled by his mother, and earned a GED.[125] Lanza's aunt said his mother removed him from the Newtown public school system because she was unhappy with the school district's plans for her son.[126] He attended Western Connecticut State University in 2008 and 2009.[125] Students and teachers who knew him in high school described Lanza as "intelligent, but nervous and fidgety". He avoided attracting attention and was uncomfortable socializing. He is not known to have had any close friends in school.[118]

An anonymous law enforcement official[127] and friends of Nancy Lanza[128] reported that Adam had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.[124][129][130][131] Lanza's brother told law enforcement that Adam was believed to have a personality disorder and was "somewhat autistic".[132] Because of concerns that published accounts of Lanza's autism could result in a backlash against others with the condition, autism advocates campaigned to clarify that autism is a brain-related developmental problem and not a mental illness.[133] The predatory aggression demonstrated by Lanza in the shooting is generally not seen in the autistic population.[134]

According to the Hartford Courant and Frontline, Lanza was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder when he was about six.[135] This disorder does not have official status by the medical community as a formal diagnosis but is frequently one of the characteristics of autism.[135] Kathleen A. Koenig, a nurse at the Yale Child Studies Center, said Lanza had symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder because he frequently washed his hands and changed his socks 20 times a day, to the point where his mother did three loads of laundry a day.[136] In addition, he would sometimes go through a box of tissues in one day because he could not touch a doorknob with his bare hand.[137]

He taped black garbage bags over his bedroom windows. He played violent video games and was fascinated with mass shootings, most notably the Columbine High School massacre and the Northern Illinois University 2008 shooting.[138] He did not allow anybody in his room, he refused to have a Christmas tree in the house, and would not eat his food unless it was arranged in a particular way on his plate.[139]

In January 2014, the New York Daily News reported that Adam Lanza had made a phone call to a college radio station in Oregon in December 2011, in which he used the name "Greg" and compared a teenage mall shooter to Travis the chimpanzee. An audio recording of the call obtained by the newspaper was said to contain Lanza's voice by two of his former high school classmates. Lanza is also said to have discussed the possibility of going on to the radio show in an instant messaging conversation, in which he had the username "Smiggles". Danbury State Attorney Stephen Sedensky said "Adam Lanza may have called a radio station, but I do not specifically know whether or not that is Adam Lanza on the audiotape".[140]

Following her divorce from Adam's father, a corporate executive, Nancy Lanza was supported by alimony payments.[141][142][143] A relative commented that she did not have to work because the divorce settlement had left her "very well off".[144] Initial reports that Nancy Lanza had worked as a volunteer at the Sandy Hook Elementary School were denied by the school superintendent on December 15, 2012.[145] However, in December 2013, the release of documents related to the case included a card found at Nancy Lanza's home dating from 1999, which read "Dear Mrs. Lanza, Thank you for being such a special volunteer. The children achieved a most successful year with the dedication from your active involvement."[103]

Her sister-in-law described Nancy Lanza as a "gun enthusiast who owned at least a dozen firearms".[146][147][148][149] She often took her two sons to a local shooting range and had them learn to shoot.[141]

Reactions

President Obama's remarks on the day of the shooting

President Barack Obama gave a televised address on the day of the shootings, saying, "We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."[150] Obama expressed "enormous sympathy for families that are affected",[151][152][153] He also ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House and other U.S. federal government facilities worldwide in respect of the victims.[154] On December 16, Obama traveled to Newtown where he met with victims' families and spoke at an interfaith vigil.[155] President Obama honored the six slain adults posthumously with the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal on February 15, 2013.[156]

Flowers for the victims from people of Newtown

Dannel Malloy, the Governor of Connecticut, addressed the media the evening of the shootings near a local church holding a vigil for the victims, urging the people of Connecticut to come together and help each other. Malloy said, "Evil visited this community today, and it is too early to speak of recovery, but each parent, each sibling, each member of the family has to understand that Connecticut, we are all in this together, we will do whatever we can to overcome this event, we will get through it."[20][157] Hundreds of mourners, including Malloy, attended vigils in various churches in Newtown.[158][159] On December 17, Malloy called for a statewide moment of silence and church bells to be tolled 26 times at 9:30 am on December 21, exactly one week after the school shooting.[160]

Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, said: "...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."[161]

A makeshift memorial on Berkshire Road in Sandy Hook

The day after the shootings, Lanza's father released a statement:

"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."[143]

Leaders from many countries and organizations throughout the world also offered their condolences through the weekend after the shooting.[162]

Minute of silence observed in the White House on December 21, 2012

Gun control

In his speech at the December 16 vigil, President Obama called for using "whatever power this office holds", to prevent similar tragedies in the future.[163] Nearly 200,000 people signed a petition at the Obama administration's We the People petitioning website in support of stricter gun control legislation.[164] President Obama later affirmed that he would make gun control a "central issue" at the start of his second term of office, in a speech on December 19;[165] signing 23 executive orders and proposing 12 congressional actions regarding gun control, one month after the shooting.[166] The President formed a Gun Violence Task Force to be led by Vice President Joe Biden to address the causes of gun violence in the United States.[167][168] Senators Dianne Feinstein and Joe Lieberman called for an assault weapon ban, with Feinstein intending to introduce a ban bill on the first day of the new Congress,[169][170] while former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot and injured in a 2011 shooting in Tucson, launched Americans for Responsible Solutions to raise money for further gun control efforts in light of the Sandy Hook shooting.[171] Fear of future restrictions on firearms led to a spike in sales of guns, ammunition, and magazines in the weeks following the shooting.[172][173]

On December 21, the National Rifle Association called on the United States Congress to appropriate funds for the hiring of armed police officers in every American school to protect students.[174] The NRA also announced the creation of a school protection program called the National School Shield Program,[174] which would be led by former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) administrator and United States Congressman Asa Hutchinson.[175][176][177]

A month after the shooting, President Obama cited the incident while announcing proposals for increased gun control. His proposals included universal background checks on firearms purchases, an assault weapons ban, and limiting magazine capacity to 10 cartridges. Relatives of the victims in the shooting and survivors from other mass shootings were official guests during the announcement.[178][179]

On January 17, 2013, the Utah Sheriffs' Association sent a letter to President Obama criticizing attempts "to demonize firearms". In the letter, they suggested that they would refuse to uphold federal laws that restricted the Second Amendment rights of their constituents.[180]

In reaction to anticipated restrictions on firearms, gun permit applications increased dramatically[181][182] in a multi-state trend that followed the shooting.[183]

On April 17, a bill that would have seen the restrictions on gun control, known as the Manchin-Toomey Background Checks Bill, failed to pass the U.S. Senate by six votes, with 48 Democrats and 4 Republicans voting for the bill, and 5 Democrats and 41 Republicans voting against.[184] The NRA released a statement critiquing the bill, stating that "expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools."[185] In a speech the following day, Obama called the failing of the bill "shameful" and stated how the Republicans had "wilfully lied" about the proposal on background checks, while Ted Cruz, a leading opponent of the bill, stated that making a registry is the only way to make the background checks effective.[186]

Video games

Police found "numerous"[187] video games in the basement of Adam Lanza's home, which was used as a gaming area, prompting a renewed debate about their effect on young people.[188][189][190] Connecticut Senator Christopher Murphy stated in January 2013 that, as well as guns, video games played a role in the shootings. He said, "I think there's a question as to whether he would have driven in his mother's car in the first place if he didn't have access to a weapon that he saw in video games that gave him a false sense of courage about what he could do that day."[191] An anonymous Connecticut police officer also claimed that the shooting, and specifically Lanza's suicide, can be attributed to Lanza's video game playing and that the rest of the police department believes similarly. "In the code of a gamer, even a deranged killer like this little bastard, if somebody else kills you, they get your points." he said. "They believe that's why he killed himself."[192]

Wayne LaPierre, CEO and Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, publicly blamed video games for the shooting, specifically targeting the free online game Kindergarten Killers created by Gary Short. LaPierre also called for more firearms in public schools and armed teachers in order to prevent similar attacks.[193] In November 2013, an unnamed website hosted a video game called The Slaying of Sandy Hook, which allowed players to reenact the events of the shooting. The game garnered extremely negative reactions, especially from those related to the victims. The game was eventually pulled off the site. The game was allegedly created by Ryan Jake Lambourn, who claimed that the game was about "the importance of gun control" (sic).[194]

The final report into the shooting, published in November 2013, noted that "[Lanza] played video games often, both solo at home and online. They could be described as both violent and non-violent. One person described the shooter as spending the majority of his time playing non-violent video games all day, with his favorite at one point being Super Mario Brothers. The report described his liking for Dance Dance Revolution, which he played frequently for hours with an acquaintance at a theater which had a commercial version of the game, and also played the game at home.[64] The final report did not make a link between video games and the motive for the shooting.[64][195]

Impact on the community

The school was closed indefinitely following the shooting, partially because it remained a crime scene.[196] Sandy Hook students returned to classes on January 3, 2013, at Chalk Hill Middle School in nearby Monroe at the town's invitation. Chalk Hill at the time was an unused facility, refurbished after the shooting, with desks and equipment brought in from Sandy Hook Elementary. The Chalk Hill school was temporarily renamed "Sandy Hook".[197][198][199] The University of Connecticut created a scholarship for the surviving children of the shootings.[200]

On January 31, the Newtown school board voted unanimously to ask for police officer presence in all of its elementary schools; previously other schools in the district had such protection, but Sandy Hook had not been one of those.[201]

On May 10, a task force of twenty-eight appointed members voted to demolish the existing Sandy Hook Elementary school and have a new school built in its place. The $57 million proposed project was sent to the Newtown Board of Education for approval, to be followed by a public ballot.[202][203] In October 2013, Newtown residents voted 4,504–558 in favor of the proposed demolition and reconstruction, to be funded by $50 million in state money.[204] Demolition began on October 25, 2013.[205]

After the town clerk's office was inundated with requests from the media,[206] Connecticut House of Representatives Republican Dan Carter introduced legislation that would restrict access to public information available under the Freedom of Information Act.[206]

On June 5, both houses (Senate and House of Representatives) of the Connecticut state legislature passed a bill modifying the state's Freedom of Information Act in order to "prevent the release of crime-scene photos and video evidence from the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and other Connecticut homicides, concerned such records would be spread on the Internet." The bill then went on to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's desk for his signature. The bill creates a new exemption to the state's Freedom of Information Act. The release of photographs, film, video, digital or other visual images depicting a homicide victim is prevented if such records "could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of the victim or the victim's surviving family members."[207]

See also

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