Gunman Kills 26 at Elementary School

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 14 2012 8:02 PM

Tragedy in Newtown: "Those Who Died Today Were Children—Beautiful, Little Kids"

In this photo provided by the Newtown Bee, Connecticut State Police lead children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., following a reported shooting there Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.
In this photo provided by the Newtown Bee, Connecticut State Police lead children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., following a reported shooting there Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.

Photograph by Shannon Hicks, Newtown Bee.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Latest Updates:

Advertisement
  • Police have confirmed that 28 people are dead: 20 children, 6 adults in the school, 1 at a local residence and the shooter 
  • The gunman's mother was reportedly a kindergarten teacher at the school, and among the dead
  • Early reports about the shooter's identity appear to have been wrong; the AP and others now say that the suspect is 20-year-old Adam Lanza, not his 24-year-old brother Ryan
  • Reports suggest that the guns used in the shooting belonged to Adam's mother, Nancy, and were legally purchased
  • President Obama: "We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years."
  • Lt. J. Paul Vance: "We've never seen anything like this."

The nation's eyes remain on Newtown, Conn., where an adult gunman opened fire at an elementary school Friday morning, killing 20 children and six adults. The death toll places the mass shooting as the second worst in U.S. history.

"The majority of those who died today were children—beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old," a tearful President Obama told the nation during an afternoon press conference at the White House shortly before Newtown authorities went public with the official death count.

"They had their entire lives ahead of them—birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams," the president continued. "So our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost."

Local law enforcement officials say that the shooter was killed at the scene—although it remains unclear whether he took his own life—along with a seventh adult at a local residence sometime prior to this morning's spree.

Lt. J. Paul Vance told reporters this afternoon that it was still an "active, ongoing" investigation and that "there are a lot of things we cannot confirm or discuss as of yet." At a subsequent briefing Vance suggested it could take days to process the scene. "We've never seen anything like this," he said.*

A flood of reports steadily poured in throughout the day via a host of unnamed sources, most of which remain unconfirmed and several of which have already proved false.

The biggest confusion among the early reports concerned the identity of the gunman. CNN and CBS News were among multiple outlets originally reporting that the suspect was 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, but CBS and the Associated Press have since confirmed those reports were incorrect. The shooter is now believed to be Ryan's 20-year-old brother Adam Lanza. Ryan is currently being questioned by police, according to the AP, and is said to be cooperating with authorities.

The New York Times and multiple news networks are reporting that the gunman's mother, Nancy Lanza, was a kindergarten teacher at the school and was among those killed. Current reports suggest that she was the adult killed at a local home that she shared with her son, although the police have not yet confirmed that publicly.

According to CNN and others, the three guns found at the school were registered in Nancy Lanza's name. According to the AP, two handguns—a Glock and a Sig Sauer—were recovered at the scene, while the third, a .223-caliber rifle, was recovered in the back of a car parked at the school.

ABC News, meanwhile, reported earlier today that the gunman was wearing a bulletproof vest. (Although, we'll point out that initial reports of such body armor often turn out to be false.)

Early reports of a second gunman now appear to be incorrect. Vance and other officials have said repeatedly that they believe there was only a single gunman. NBC and others reported earlier in the day that police took someone into custody in the hours after the shooting, although it remains unclear what—if any—role he or she may have played.

The school shooting was the second most deadly in U.S. history. Seung Hui Cho killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007 before turning the gun on himself.

This post was originally published at 11:45 a.m. It has been updated with additional information as it became available.

*Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified Lt. J. Paul Vance as Newton's chief of police. He is not. He is with the Connecticut State Police force.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.