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Horror of gunman’s rampage continues to unfold in Sandy Hook

By Alaine Griffin

The Hartford Courant


NEWTOWN, Conn. — The horror of a lone gunman’s devastation on a small elementary school in Newtown was reflected Sunday in staggering numbers.

Thousands of grief-stricken mourners gathered in churches across Connecticut to remember the 20 children and six adults killed during Friday’s rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

More than 60 funeral directors stepped forward to help the families.

And in a news conference, police revealed “the hundreds” of unused bullets Adam Lanza had for the rifle and two semiautomatic pistols he brought to the school Friday morning could have made his victims’ list longer.

On Sunday morning, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the sound of police sirens screaming toward the school just after 9:30 a.m. may have cut short the shooting spree.

“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 on ABC’s “This Week.”

Police believe Lanza killed his mother, Nancy, Friday morning inside the Newtown home where he lived with her, and then drove to the school where he shot through a locked glass door. Twelve girls and eight boys, all first-graders, and six school employees, including the principal, were gunned down.

State police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said Sunday that Lanza, 20, used one of the pistols to shoot himself in the head. The state medical examiner’s office said Sunday that it ruled Lanza’s death a suicide. Vance said all the victims in the school had been shot with the rifle.

The medical examiner also said Nancy Lanza, 52, was shot in the head multiple times. Her death has been ruled a homicide.


Neither Malloy nor Vance said Sunday what they think motivated Lanza to kill. A law enforcement official has said police found no letters or diaries that could shed light on a motive, though investigators are examining evidence seized from the Lanza home that may help give them some answers.

Police declined to discuss the evidence or what other information they have learned about Lanza, who has been described as a bright but withdrawn and troubled young man.

At 16, Lanza, who is believed to have been homeschooled for periods, enrolled in classes at Western Connecticut State University in the summer of 2008 and earned a 3.26 grade point average, Western spokesman Paul Steinmetz said Sunday.

Steinmetz said Lanza dropped out of a German language class and withdrew from a computer science class, but earned an A in a computer class, an A-minus in an American history class and a B in a macroeconomics class.

He did not do so well in philosophy, earning only a C.

Steinmetz said while it is unusual for 16-year-olds to be among the school’s 5,000 undergraduate students, Lanza was “not unique.”

“We probably have a small handful of kids that age,” Steinmetz said.

Lanza left Western in the summer of 2009, he said.

On Sunday, police evacuated St. Rose of Lima Church — the site of a vigil for the victims Friday night — during noon Mass after a bomb threat was made.

Brian Wallace, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Bridgeport, said that Monsignor Robert Weiss was in the middle of his homily when it was learned that a threat had been made against the church.

The church, located at 46 Church Hill Road, was evacuated and authorities searched the church and other buildings on the property.

“People do need prayer and silence,” Wallace said. “To interrupt that is a very tragic and difficult thing.”

Wallace said that church officials are preparing for funerals in the coming days.

On Monday, the first burial services for the victims of the shootings were scheduled to begin. The funeral of Noah Pozner, 6, will be held in Fairfield and a funeral for Jack Pinto, 6, will be held in Newtown.

On Tuesday, funerals will be held for Jessica Rekos, 6, and James Mattioli, 6.

More than 60 funeral directors have agreed to help the families of the victims, said Pasquale Folino, president of the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association and vice president of Thomas L. Neilan & Sons Funeral Home in New London and Niantic.

“Right now we have a team of funeral directors that have volunteered to provide support services, to provide motor equipment, transportation,” he said. “Casket companies are providing caskets, vault companies are providing the vaults.”

Most Newtown students are expected to return to school on Tuesday, Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson told the Danbury News-Times. Sandy Hook students are scheduled attend classes at Chalk Hill School in Monroe.

Monroe Superintendent James Agostine said he is not sure when Sandy Hook students will arrive, but said his district is already getting the school ready for Newtown to use.

“We are happy to assist in some way,” Agostine said.

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