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In Wake of Elementary School Shooting, President Says Nation Must Face "Hard Questions"

December 14, 2012 03:21:20 pm
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(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Speaking at an interfaith memorial service on Sunday in Newtown, CT — where 26 students and teachers, a gunman and his mother died on Dec. 14 — President Barack Obama said he will use "whatever power" his office holds to address mass shootings.

"Can we honestly say that we're doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?" Obama said. "If we're honest with ourselves, the answer's no. We're not doing enough, and we will have to change."

Authorities have begun to piece together the timeline of events leading up to 20-year-old Adam Lanza's attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Connecticut State Police released on Saturday a list of the 26 victims found at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The children killed in the attack were all six and seven years old.

Lanza first targeted his mother, Nancy, at her home on Yogananda Street in Newtown. Lanza then took three guns — a .223 Bushmaster, a Glock 9-mm handgun and a Sig-Sauer handgun — registered to his mother.

From the Associated Press:

"He drove his mother's car through this 300-year-old town with its fine old churches and towering trees and arrived at a school full of the season's joy. Somehow, he got past a security door to a place where children should have been safe from harm."

The New York Times reports that, "outfitted in combat gear and armed with semiautomatic pistols and a semiautomatic rifle, Mr. Lanza forced his way into the building and then chose his victims with a brutal efficiency, according to law enforcement officials."

NBC News is reporting that authorities were alerted to the unfolding carnage by a 911 call around 9:30 a.m. Local and state police departments responded. 

Speaking on ABC's "This Week," Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said Lanza committed suicide after police entered the school.

"We surmise that it was during the second classroom episode that he heard responders coming and apparently at that, decided to take his own life," Malloy said.

As more information becomes available about Lanza's attack on the school, portraits of individual heroism among the school's staff have begun to take form.

Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach were in a meeting with staff and the parents of a second grader, school therapist Diane Day told the AP. When shots rang out, Hochsprung and the psychologist leaped out of their seats and ran out of the room, Day told the AP. 'They didn't think twice about confronting or seeing what was going on,' she said. 

From the Newtown Bee, the town's local newspaper:

"The last thing one witness recalled was (Hochsprung) turning back and yelling a warning to lock the door as she apparently confronted the gunman. A few moments later she was shot." 

Photos of 27-year-old first-grade teacher Vicki Soto circulated on Facebook and Twitter Sunday. Relatives told reporters she died protecting students from Lanza's attack.

Seven survivors were found hiding in a closet in Soto's classroom. From the Hartford Courant:

"Officers found the children during the initial, rushed search of the building for survivors.

"'Finally, they opened that door and there were seven sets of eyes looking at them,' a law enforcement officer familiar with the events said Saturday. 'She tried to save her class,' he said of Victoria Soto."

As the families of victims begin to cope and process, authorities have taken precautions to guard their privacy. Lt. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police said at a press conference Saturday that each family has been assigned a state trooper.

The school itself and the surrounding area is still considered an open crime scene. The school and Nancy Lanza's home "did produce some very good evidence in this investigation that our investigators will be able to use in hopefully painting a complete picture of what happened," Vance said.

The Newtown shooting was the 16th mass shooting in America this year, leaving a total of 88 people dead. The Nation has a timeline of the violence HERE.

The Crime Report will be updating this post continuously as new information is made available.

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