Chris Kaufman http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman Chris Kaufman's Profile Tue, 18 Dec 2012 02:00:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 First funerals for Newtown victims as U.S. schools confront tragedy http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/usa-shooting-connecticut-update-5-pix-tv-idUSL1E8NH1JQ20121218?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/2012/12/18/first-funerals-for-newtown-victims-as-u-s-schools-confront-tragedy/#comments Tue, 18 Dec 2012 01:23:40 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/?p=97 , Dec 17 (Reuters) – One boy was
buried in his hero’s football jersey in a small white coffin.
Balloons and a teddy bear welcomed mourners to the funeral of
his first grade schoolmate.

The two funerals on Monday ushered in what will be a week of
memorial services and burials for the 20 children and six adults
massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown,
Connecticut.

Mourners packed into the funeral for the youngest victim,
Noah Pozner, age 6.

“Every time I told Noah, ‘I love you,’ he always answered,
‘Not as much as I love you,'” his mother, Veronique Pozner, told
mourners at his funeral, recalled Rabbi Edgar Gluck after the
burial service.

The deaths of so many children, all ages 6 and 7, sparked
new talk of gun control in Washington, long reluctant to take on
the highly charged issue, with U.S. President Barack Obama
meeting key advisers and one pro-gun senator calling on the
nation’s gun lobby to rethink its position.

The shooting sent waves of anxiety across the country on the
first school day since a 20-year-old gunman opened fire on the
students and teachers in the close-knit community, located 80
miles northeast of New York City, last week.

Lockdowns were declared at schools in nearby Connecticut and
New York towns on fears of danger that turned out to be
unfounded. In southern California, Indiana, Tennessee and Ohio,
authorities arrested men on Sunday for making threats against
schools.

Newtown’s schools remained closed after a weekend of
mourning that followed Adam Lanza’s shooting spree on Friday
that claimed 28 lives, including his mother’s and his own.

‘VIVACIOUS YOUNG BOY’

At the funeral for Jack Pinto, also 6, in Newtown, about a
half dozen children wearing a wrestling’s club gold medals took
off the awards and gave them to their teammate’s parents. A New
York Giants fan, Jack was dressed in a red-and-white jersey with
receiver Victor Cruz’s number 80 as he lay in an open white
casket.

“Jack was an incredibly loving and vivacious young boy,
appreciated by all who knew him for his lively and giving spirit
and steely determination,” his parents, Dean and Tricia Pinto,
and brother said in his obituary in the Newtown Bee newspaper.

In Fairfield, a teddy bear and bouquet of white flowers lay
at the base of an oak tree outside the Jewish service for
Pozner, whose twin sister, Arielle, escaped unhurt.

“Noah was an impish, larger-than-life little boy,” his
parents and four siblings said in an obituary, also in the Bee.
“Everything he did conveyed action and energy through love. He
was the light of our family, a little soul devoid of spite.”

THORNY POLITICAL ISSUE

A day after meeting with families of victims and addressing
a shocked nation from Newtown, Obama on Monday held a White
House meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and three Cabinet
members to discuss ways to respond.

An administration spokesman said Obama’s plan for action to
curb violence includes gun control “but is far from all of it.”
He declined to offer specific details.

Gun control is a politically charged topic in the United
States, with the powerful National Rifle Association mustering
strong resistance to tighter rules on gun ownership.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg lashed out at fellow
politicians for their reluctance to take on the gun lobby.
“Somehow or other, we’ve come to think that getting
re-elected is more important than saving lives, that political
power is more important than saving lives,” he said in an angry,
emotional press conference at New York City Hall. “Enough.”

A growing number of U.S. lawmakers called for a look at
curbing assault weapons like the one used in the massacre. The
ban on the weapons expired in 2004.

“Never before have we seen our babies slaughtered. This
never happened in America, that I can recall,” said Senator Joe
Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who has earned top marks from
the gun industry. “This has changed where we go from here.”

A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that the massacre had influenced
Americans’ thinking on guns. Some 50 percent of people surveyed
after the shooting agreed that “gun ownership should have strong
regulations of restrictions,” up from 42 percent who agreed with
that statement before Friday’s shooting.

INVESTIGATION GOES ON

Police said it could take months for them to finish their
investigation into the attack, which started when Adam Lanza
killed his mother, Nancy, at home, before driving to the school
armed with a Bushmaster AR 15 rifle and two handguns. He left a
shotgun in his car.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said he had decided on
Friday to break the news to the parents and relatives who had
spent hours waiting outside the school that their children were
dead. That marked a departure from normal practice as officials
were still struggling to formally identify all the bodies.

“There was a reluctance to tell parents and loved ones that
the person they were waiting for was not going to return,”
Malloy said in a tearful press conference. “I made the decision
that to have that go on any longer was wrong. I did it.”

With Newtown schools closed, about 200 volunteers set up an
indoor play area to keep children busy. Inside a local youth
academy, volunteers urged a boy wearing Spider-Man sneakers, a
girl carrying a stuffed Dalmatian toy and about 1,000 other
children to join in athletics, board games and arts and crafts.

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Funerals begin in Newtown as schools confront tragedy http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/uk-usa-shooting-connecticut-idUKBRE8BD0Z220121218?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11708 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/2012/12/18/funerals-begin-in-newtown-as-schools-confront-tragedy/#comments Tue, 18 Dec 2012 00:53:19 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/?p=95 FAIRFIELD/NEWTOWN, Connecticut (Reuters) – One boy was buried in his hero’s football jersey in a small white coffin. Balloons and a teddy bear welcomed mourners to the funeral of his first grade schoolmate.

The two funerals on Monday ushered in what will be a week of memorial services and burials for the 20 children and six adults massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The shooting sent waves of anxiety across the country on the first school day since a 20-year-old gunman opened fire on the students and teachers in the close-knit community last week.

Within hours of the school starting bell on Monday, lockdowns were declared in nearby Connecticut and New York towns on fears of danger. And in southern California, Indiana and Tennessee, authorities arrested men on Sunday for making threats against schools.

Newtown’s schools remained closed after a weekend of mourning that followed Adam Lanza’s shooting spree on Friday that claimed 28 lives, including his mother’s and his own.

Miniature caskets marked the first wave of funerals as Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto, both 6 years old, were laid to rest on Monday afternoon. Noah was the youngest victim of rampage and his twin sister, Arielle, escaped unhurt.

Under chilly, leaden skies, police and bomb-sniffing dogs conducted a precautionary search of the street lined with white balloons outside the Fairfield, Connecticut, funeral home where Noah’s brief life was remembered.

A teddy bear and bouquet of white flowers lay at the base of an oak tree outside the Jewish service that was packed with mourners, including Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator-elect Chris Murphy.

“Every time I told Noah, ‘I love you,’ he always answered, ‘Not as much as I love you,'” his mother, Veronique Pozner, told mourners at his funeral, recalled Rabbi Edgar Gluck after the burial service.

In Noah’s obituary in the Newtown Bee newspaper, his parents and four siblings said, “Noah was an impish, larger-than-life little boy. Everything he did conveyed action and energy through love. He was the light of our family, a little soul devoid of spite and meanness.”

At Jack Pinto’s funeral in Newtown, about a half dozen children wearing a wrestling’s club gold medals took off the awards and gave them to their teammate’s parents. A New York Giants fan, Jack was wearing a red-and-white jersey with receiver Victor Cruz’s number 80 as he lay in an open white casket at the service. During Sunday’s game, Cruz wore shoes with “R.I.P. Jack Pinto” written on the side.

“Jack was an incredibly loving and vivacious young boy, appreciated by all who knew him for his lively and giving spirit and steely determination,” his parents, Dean and Tricia Pinto, and brother said in his obituary in the Newtown Bee.

Active in sports from football to skiing, he was remembered “for the immeasurable joy he brought to all who had the pleasure of knowing him, a joy whose wide reach belied his six short years.”

Their funerals came a day after President Barack Obama visited Newtown to comfort the families, promising action to stop future tragedies. Obama’s remarks were heralded on Monday morning by relatives of teacher Victoria Soto, 27, who was killed as she tried to protect her first-grade students.

“He really made us feel like she really was a hero and that everyone should know it,” her younger brother, Carlos Soto, told CBS “This Morning.”

Later Monday, White House spokesman said Obama’s plan for action to curb violence includes gun control “but is far from all of it.”

All the dead children were 6 or 7 years old. The school principal of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school psychologist and four teachers were also gunned down.

With Newtown schools closed on Monday, about 200 volunteers set up an indoor play day to keep children busy on a drizzly Monday. Inside a local youth academy, whose doorway was marked by holiday wreaths and 26 black ribbons, volunteers urged a boy wearing Spider-Man sneakers, a girl carrying a stuffed Dalmatian toy and about 1,000 other children to join in athletics, board games and arts and crafts.

A more detailed picture of Lanza’s stunning attack has emerged.

After killing his mother, Nancy Lanza, at home, Adam Lanza shot his way into the school. He had attended Sandy Hook as a child, according to former classmates, but authorities said on Monday he had no current connection with the school.

Police said Lanza was armed with hundreds of bullets in high-capacity magazines of about 30 rounds each for the Bushmaster AR 15 rifle and two handguns he carried into the school, and had a fourth weapon, a shotgun, in his car outside. He killed himself in the school.

In Washington, a growing number of U.S. lawmakers – including a leading pro-gun senator – called for a look at curbing assault weapons like the one used in the massacre, a sign that attitudes toward gun control could be shifting.

“Never before have we seen our babies slaughtered. This never happened in America, that I can recall, ever seeing this kind of carnage,” said Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who has earned top marks from the gun industry. “This has changed where we go from here.”

(Additional reporting by Peter Rudegeair, Ed Krudy, Dan Burns, Hilary Russ, Dan Trotta and; Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Jackie Frank)

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Funerals begin for Newtown victims as schools confront tragedy http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/17/us-connecticut-towns-idUSBRE8BD0U120121217?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/2012/12/17/funerals-begin-for-newtown-victims-as-schools-confront-tragedy/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2012 13:52:50 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/?p=93 NEWTOWN, Connecticut (Reuters) – Mourners in Newtown, Connecticut, headed for the first two of 20 funerals of schoolchildren massacred in their classroom as the rest of the nation on Monday anxiously sent children back to school with tightened security.

Tiny caskets marked the first wave of funerals for the 20 children and six adults killed in the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday. Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto, both 6 years old, will be laid to rest on Monday afternoon.

President Barack Obama, who said in Newtown on Sunday that the 20-year-old gunman acted out of “unconscionable evil,” was heralded by the family of teacher Victoria Soto, 27, who was slain as she tried to protect her first-grade students.

“He really made us feel like she really was a hero and that everyone should know it,” her brother, Carlos Soto, said on CBS on Monday.

Obama, addressing an interfaith vigil in the small Connecticut town on Sunday night, spoke forcefully on the country’s failings in protecting its children and demanded changes in response to the mass shootings of the last few months.

“We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change,” he said, adding that he would bring together law enforcement, teachers, mental health professionals and others to study how to stop the violence.

But before those changes, the families of the victims will grieve.

Noah, 6 years old just last month, was the youngest victim. Reports describe him as “inquisitive” and as particularly mature for his age. The family’s rabbi has said he encouraged Noah’s mother to focus on her other four children amid the grief.

Jack, also 6, was a wrestler who loved sports. The New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz played Sunday’s football game with the boy’s name written all over his cleats and gloves.

All the dead children were 6 or 7 years old. The school principal of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school psychologist and four teachers were also gunned down.

At Sunday night’s memorial, Obama offered words of hope and promises of action to stop any further tragedies.

“We bear responsibility for every child … This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right,” he said.

The president kept his emotions in tighter check than he did on Friday, when he cried openly while addressing the shooting. But his tears were matched by the packed crowd in the high school auditorium, who wailed when he read the names of the adults and children who were killed.

SCHOOLS READY TO OPEN

While the two boys are laid to rest and the other families prepare their own memorials, schools across the country will attempt to return to business as usual, though there will be signs everywhere of how unusual the situation has become.

Some schools will put on extra security guards. Others will begin their day with a moment of silence. On Twitter, young people nationwide have urged their classmates to wear green and white, the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“I’m struggling with if I should bring it up at all. And if I do, what am I going to say about it? I’m just praying about it, because I don’t know,” said Molli Falgout, a first-grade teacher in Kernersville, North Carolina.

In Newtown, schools will not reopen on Monday. The district has said teachers need time to prepare for the students’ return.

Instead, the town’s youth sports groups have set up a field day of sorts to keep children occupied with athletics, board games and arts and crafts. Schools superintendent Janet Robinson described it as an effort “to help provide some small level of comfort and support to the children in our community.”

The community will also have to make a decision about what to do with the bullet-ridden Sandy Hook Elementary, whose students will for now attend classes in an empty school in a neighboring town.

“I think we have to go back into that building at some point. That’s how you heal. It doesn’t have to be immediately but I sure wouldn’t want to give up on it,” said local resident Tim Northrop.

A more detailed picture of 20-year-old Adam Lanza’s stunning attack emerged on Sunday.

After killing his mother, Nancy Lanza, at home, Adam Lanza shot his way into the school. He had attended Sandy Hook as a child, according to former classmates.

Police said Lanza was armed with hundreds of bullets in high-capacity magazines of about 30 rounds each for the Bushmaster AR 15 rifle and two handguns he carried into the school, and had a fourth weapon, a shotgun, in his car outside. He killed himself in the school.

Investigators are examining forensic evidence and scouring the crime scene in a process likely to extend for weeks.

(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason, Edith Honan, Martinne Geller, David Ingram, Colleen Jenkins and Chris Francescani; Writing by Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Jackie Frank and Mohammad Zargham)

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Tales of heroism emerge from “evil” school shooting http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/15/us-usa-shooting-connecticut-heroes-idUSBRE8BE07T20121215?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/2012/12/15/tales-of-heroism-emerge-from-evil-school-shooting/#comments Sat, 15 Dec 2012 20:07:32 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/?p=91 NEWTOWN, Connecticut (Reuters) – Elementary school library clerk Mary Ann Jacob heard gunshots and shouted “Lockdown!” to a class of fourth graders. Then she discovered the classroom door wouldn’t lock.

Quickly, quietly she and other library staff got the 18 children down on the floor and crawled with them to a classroom storage closet. Hiding from the gunman who killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, they barricaded themselves inside by shoving a file cabinet against the door.

“We settled them down with paper and crayons,” Jacob told reporters on Saturday.

The gunfire suddenly ended and police came pounding at the door. But the library staff refused to open it until they slipped a badge under the door, Jacob said.

In the aftermath of the massacre, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy on Friday said “evil” had descended upon the small community of Newtown. But emerging a day after the carnage were tales of heroism by school staff members, including the six who died.

There was first-grade teacher Vicki Leigh Soto, 27, who police said “put herself between the kids and the gunman’s bullets” and whose body was found huddled with the students in a classroom closet, according to The Wall Street Journal.

And there were selfless survivors like first-grade teacher Kaitlin Roig. She told ABC News she scrambled her class into a cramped bathroom, locked the door and “told the kids I love them” in case those were the last words they ever heard.

A school custodian reportedly raced through the hallways echoing with gunfire to check that classroom doors were locked from the inside, the Newtown Bee newspaper said.

On Friday morning fourth graders were in Jacob’s library classroom when the intercom sputtered to life with what sounded like a struggle in the school office.

“We heard some scuffling noises and stuff and I thought someone made a mistake,” Jacob said. “So I called down there and the secretary answered the phone and said ‘There’s a shooting.'”

Then Jacob heard “popping noises” that she realized was gunfire.

“I shouted ‘Lockdown!’ and I ran across the hall and told the other class it was a lockdown,” Jacob said.

She dashed back to her classroom and discovered that the door would not lock. Spying the storage closet in the room, Jacob and the rest of the library staff guided the children in a group-crawl to safety as the gunfire continued.

“We tried to minimize it with the kids. Just tried to keep it calm and quiet,” she said. The staff told the children it was an active shooter drill that they had practiced before.

Later, Jacob said she found out that “the kids who died were in two first-grade classrooms.”

Panicked parents converged on a firehouse near the school on Friday afternoon, terrified by the thought that their children might be among the dead.

“The teachers lined up, held up signs, the kids lined up behind them,” Jacob said.

“There were a lot of parents running around. It came out pretty quickly that there were almost two full classes missing,” she said.

(Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Xavier Briand)

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Search for answers begins after U.S. school massacre http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/15/usa-shooting-connecticut-idUSL1E8NF0YT20121215?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/2012/12/15/search-for-answers-begins-after-u-s-school-massacre/#comments Sat, 15 Dec 2012 11:01:35 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/?p=89 , Dec 15 (Reuters) – Residents of the small
Connecticut community of Newtown were reeling on Saturday from
one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history, as police
sought answers about what drove a 20-year-old gunman to
slaughter 20 children at an elementary school.

The attacker, identified by law enforcement sources as Adam
Lanza, opened fire on Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary
School, which teaches children aged five to 10. He ultimately
killed at least 26 people, before turning the gun on himself.

Police said another adult was found dead at a related crime
scene in the town. Many media outlets reported it may have been
the shooter’s mother, Nancy Lanza.

State police said they hoped to have more information by
Saturday morning, including confirmation of the victims’
identities. More than 12 hours after the shootings, police began
removing the bodies from the school and bringing in parents to
make identifications, NBC News reported.

President Barack Obama urged Americans on Saturday to join
in solidarity as they mourned the victims, saying the hearts of
parents across the country were “heavy with hurt”.

He called for “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies
like this”, but stopped short of specifically calling for
tighter gun-control laws in his weekly radio and Internet
speech.

The president wiped away tears as he told the nation in a
television address on Friday: “Our hearts are broken.”

The holiday season tragedy was the second shooting rampage
in the United States this week and the latest in a series of
mass killings this year.

It revived a debate about gun-control in a country with a
flourishing firearms culture and a strong lobby which has
discouraged most politicians from any major efforts to address
the easy availability of handguns and rifles.

“JUST BRUTAL”

Newtown, an affluent town about 80 miles (130 km) northeast
of New York City, was mourning its dead in community vigils.

“We’re just praying – just need to pray to God that this
does not happen again, no matter where,” Amelia Adams, 76, said
on her way into St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church with her
husband Kenneth, 81.

The church, a couple of miles from the site of the shooting,
was packed inside and out on Friday night with a crowd
estimated at more than 1,000 people.

“It was just, it was brutal. I can’t think of a better word.
It was just brutal to have to witness the pain today,” Monsignor
Robert Weiss said after the service.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy told reporters late on
Friday he never thought something would happen to equal the
grief he and others felt after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York
and Washington in 2001.

“Evil visited this community today,” Malloy said.

The chaos at Sandy Hook struck as children gathered in their
classrooms for morning events. A state police spokesman said the
shootings took place in two rooms. Witnesses reported hearing
dozens of shots; some said as many as 100 rounds.

Former classmates of the shooter remembered him as someone
who dressed more formally than other students, often wearing
khaki pants, button-down shirts and at times, a pocket
protector.

“(His mother) pushed him really hard to be smarter and work
harder in school,” said Tim Arnone, 20, who first met Lanza at
Sandy Hook. He had attended Newtown High School.

PUSH FOR CONTROL

The death toll exceeded that of one of the most notorious
U.S. school shootings, the 1999 rampage at Columbine High School
in Littleton, Colorado, where two teenagers murdered 13 students
and staff before killing themselves.

The New York Times reported Adam Lanza used a Sig Sauer and
a Glock, both handguns, and said police also found at the scene
a Bushmaster .223 M4 carbine rifle at the scene.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of the
advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said it was “almost
impossible to believe a mass shooting in a kindergarten class
could happen.

“We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric
before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White
House and not from Congress,” Bloomberg said. “That must end
today.”

World leaders expressed horror as they offered condolences
to the United States. Washington’s arch-foe Tehran also offered
its sympathies with Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman describing
the killings as “tragic”.

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Search for answers begins after Connecticut school massacre http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/15/us-usa-connecticut-answers-idUSBRE8BE03420121215?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/2012/12/15/search-for-answers-begins-after-connecticut-school-massacre/#comments Sat, 15 Dec 2012 07:06:39 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/?p=87 NEWTOWN, Connecticut (Reuters) – Residents of the small Connecticut community of Newtown were reeling on Saturday from one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history, as police sought answers about what drove a 20-year-old gunman to slaughter 20 children at an elementary school.

The attacker, identified by law enforcement sources as Adam Lanza, who once attended Newtown High School, opened fire on Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which serves children aged 5 to 10. He ultimately killed at least 27 people, including himself.

Police said another adult was found dead at a related crime scene in the town, which many media accounts indicated may have been the shooter’s mother, Nancy Lanza.

State police said they hoped to have more information by Saturday morning, including confirmation of the victims’ identities. More than 12 hours after the shootings, police began removing the bodies from the school and bringing in parents to make identifications, NBC News reported.

Symbolizing the national grief over the massacre of the schoolchildren, President Barack Obama choked up and wiped away tears in a live national address in which he said, “Our hearts are broken.”

He called for “meaningful action” to curb gun violence.

The holiday season tragedy was the second shooting rampage in the United States this week and the latest in a series of mass killings this year, and is certain to revive a debate about U.S. gun laws.

‘JUST BRUTAL’

Newtown, an affluent town about 80 miles northeast of New York City, was mourning its dead in community vigils.

“We’re just praying – just need to pray to God that this does not happen again, no matter where,” Amelia Adams, 76, said on her way into St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church with her husband Kenneth, 81.

The church, just a couple of miles from the site of the shooting, was packed inside and out on Friday night with a crowd estimated at more than 1,000 people.

“It was just, it was brutal. I can’t think of a better word. It was just brutal, to have to witness the pain today,” Monsignor Robert Weiss said after the service.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy told reporters late on Friday that he never thought something would happen that would equal the grief he and others felt after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

“Evil visited this community today,” Malloy said.

Brian Re, a 36-year-old engineer, has lived near Sandy Hook Elementary for seven years and has a 4 1/2-year-old girl he is planning to send to the school next year.

“It’s a good town, but the massacre happened here,” Re said.

The chaos at Sandy Hook struck as children gathered in their classrooms for morning events. A state police spokesman said the shootings took place in two rooms. Witnesses reported hearing dozens of shots; some said as many as 100 rounds.

Former classmates of the shooter remembered him as someone who dressed more formally than other students, often wearing khaki pants, button-down shirts and at times, a pocket protector.

“(His mother) pushed him really hard to be smarter and work harder in school,” said Tim Arnone, 20, who first met Lanza at Sandy Hook.

PUSH FOR CONTROL

The death toll exceeded that of one of the most notorious U.S. school shootings, the 1999 rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where two teenagers killed 13 students and staff before killing themselves.

The New York Times reported that Adam Lanza used a Sig Sauer and a Glock, both handguns, and said police also found at the scene a Bushmaster .223 M4 carbine, a rifle, that they believe belonged to him.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of the advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said it was “almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen.

“We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress,” Bloomberg said. “That must end today.”

(Additional reporting by Dave Gregorio, Dan Burns, Rob Cox, Chris Francescani, Peter Rudegeair, Ellen Wulfhorst and Erin Geiger Smith; Writing by Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Peter Cooney and Paul Simao)

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Quiet Connecticut town rocked by mass school shooting http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/15/usa-shooting-connecticut-town-idUSL1E8NEG8Y20121215?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/2012/12/15/quiet-connecticut-town-rocked-by-mass-school-shooting/#comments Sat, 15 Dec 2012 00:51:24 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/?p=85 , Dec 14 (Reuters) – The peace and security of
the suburban Connecticut community of Newtown lay shattered on
Friday after a gunman attacked a primary school in one of the
worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

Tearful parents and children gathered around Sandy Hook
Elementary School by midday on Friday, surrounded by police
vehicles, as young and old alike struggled to make sense of a
shooting rampage that killed at least 28 people, including 20
children.

Mergim Bajraliu, a 17-year-old high school student, said he
was at his home nearby when he heard two shots. He and a
neighbor ran to the school to find his 9-year-old sister,
Venesa, a fourth-grader.

“My heart sank,” he said, describing seeing two students
covered in blood being carried out of the building, one of whom
looked like his sister. To his relief, his sister later emerged
unharmed, and Bajraliu greeted her with a hug.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God,” Bajraliu said.

Police said a heavily armed gunman fatally shot 26 people,
including 20 children at the school, and was later found dead in
the school building. Another adult was found dead in the town,
which police were investigating as a related incident.

Home to about 27,000 people, the wealthy, wooded town of
Newtown is in southwestern Connecticut, about 80 miles (130 km)
northeast of New York City. It is a bedroom community, with many
homes situated on multiple acres of land and some residents
commuting to larger cities including Hartford and Stamford.

“Evil visited this community today,” Connecticut Governor
Dannel Malloy told reporters. “What has happened, what has
transpired at this school building will leave a mark on this
community and every family impacted.”

President Barack Obama brushed away tears during an
appearance at the White House briefing room where he said,
“We’re endured too many of these tragedies in the past few
years.” He ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in a national
symbol of mourning.

ILLUSIONS OF SAFETY SHATTERED

Local churches quickly organized evening memorial services
to help residents cope with the trauma that shattered their
illusions of safety and made their town the focus of extensive
national and international media coverage.

“I don’t think you are safe anywhere,” said Lori Amaral, who
lives about 1/4 mile (400 metres) from the school. She added
that her college-age daughter and her friends were afraid even
to go out to the vigil.

“They are afraid to go anywhere,” Amaral said.

John Hess was at the airport in Cleveland on Friday morning
when his wife, Patty, called him to tell him about the shooting.
He immediately hopped a plane home to Newtown, where his family
moved recently from nearby Stamford.

“We moved here because we thought it would be a safe
community,” Hess said.

Parents of children at the school for
kindergarten-to-fourth-grade students gathered at a fire station
down the street from the school building to await news of their
children.

Helicopters hovered over the school building and scores of
cars were parked on lawns up and down the street, reflecting the
hurried response of police, parents and officials after the
shooting took place around 9:30 a.m. local time (1430 GMT).

“Everybody was crying,” said Alexis Wasik, 8, a third-grader
who was in the school when the shooting began. “I was a little
scared and felt sick to my stomach.”

Friday’s attack was the deadliest mass shooting at a U.S.
school since a 2007 attack at Virginia Tech University left 32
people dead.

“I am still in a daze,” said Alexis’ mother, Lynn. “My heart
is in a million pieces for the children.”

Juanita Hall, a school counselor in Ridgefield, Connecticut,
whose daughter attends a nearby school, said it would take time
for the residents to recover from the shock.

“The most difficult thing is to have a conversation with the
children about this. My immediate thoughts were about
Columbine,” Hall said, referring to a 1999 incident in which
students at a Colorado high school killed 13 students and staff.

“It’s going to take a very long time for this community to
get over this, if it’s even possible. I’m not sure it’s even
possible.”

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Connecticut gun rampage: 28 dead, including 20 schoolchildren http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/15/us-connecticut-towns-idUSBRE8BD0U120121215?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/2012/12/15/connecticut-gun-rampage-28-dead-including-20-schoolchildren/#comments Sat, 15 Dec 2012 00:24:46 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/?p=83 NEWTOWN, Connecticut (Reuters) – Twenty schoolchildren were slaughtered by a heavily armed gunman who opened fire at a suburban elementary school in Connecticut on Friday, killing at least 27 people including himself in the one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

The 20-year-old gunman, who law enforcement sources identified as Adam Lanza, opened fire on a classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which serves children from ages 5 to 10.

Authorities found 18 children and seven adults, including the gunman, dead at the school, and two children were pronounced dead later after being take to a hospital. Another adult was found dead at a related crime scene in Newtown, bringing the toll to 28, state police Lieutenant Paul Vance said.

As reports of the shooting spread, panicked parents rushed to the school searching for their children as students covered in blood were being carried out of the building.

President Barack Obama, wiping away tears and pausing to collect his emotions in an address to the nation, mourned the “beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old” who were killed.

“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,” Obama said, his voice cracking.

“Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early and there are no words that will ease their pain,” said Obama, who has two young daughters.

“Evil visited this community today,” Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy told reporters.

Adam Lanza’s brother, Ryan Lanza, was “either in custody or being questioned,” a law enforcement source said.

The New York Times reported that the gunman walked into a classroom where his mother was a teacher, shot his mother and then 20 students, most in the same classroom, before shooting five other adults and killing himself. One other person was shot at the school and survived, the Times said.

Other media reports said the gunman’s mother was found dead at a house nearby.

The gunman – who according to a media report carried four weapons and wore a bulletproof vest – was dead inside the school, Vance said.

The holiday season tragedy was the second shooting rampage in the United States this week and the latest in a series of mass killings this year, and was certain to revive a debate about U.S. gun laws.

POLICE, PARENTS SWARM SCHOOL

Chaos struck as children gathered in their classrooms for morning meetings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, a city of 27,000 in Fairfield County, about 80 miles northeast of New York City.

Police swarmed the scene and locked down the school, rushing children to safety. Distraught parents converged, frantically searching for their daughters and sons. Neighbors and friends wandered in shock, looking for information.

“It’s hard to believe that anything like this could happen in this town,” said resident Peter Alpi, 70, as he fought back tears. “It’s a very quiet town. Maybe it’s too quiet.”

Obama ordered flags flown at half-staff at U.S. public buildings.

“As a country, we have been through this too many times,” Obama said, ticking off a list of recent shootings.

“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” Obama said in apparent reference to the influence of the National Rifle Association over members of Congress.

Obama remains committed to trying to renew a ban on assault weapons, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

The Connecticut shootings appear certain to trigger renewed debate over U.S. gun laws. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of the advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said it was “almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen.

“We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress,” he said. “That must end today.”

French President Francois Hollande, in an open letter to Obama, said he was “horrified” by the shootings. British Prime Minister David Cameron said, “It is heartbreaking to think of those who have had their children robbed from them at such a young age, when they had so much life ahead of them.”

BLOODIED CHILDREN LEAVE SCHOOL

Vance said the shootings took place in two rooms of Sandy Hook Elementary School, which teaches children from kindergarten through fourth grade, roughly aged 5 to 10.

Witnesses reported hearing dozens of shots; some said as many as 100 rounds.

“It was horrendous,” said parent Brenda Lebinski, who rushed to the school where her daughter is in the third grade. “Everyone was in hysterics – parents, students. There were kids coming out of the school bloodied. I don’t know if they were shot, but they were bloodied.”

Lebinski said a mother who was at the school during the shooting told her a “masked man” entered the principal’s office and may have shot the principal.

Lebinski’s daughter’s teacher “immediately locked the door to the classroom and put all the kids in the corner of the room.”

Melissa Murphy, who lives near the school, monitored events on a police scanner.

“I kept hearing them call for the mass casualty kit and scream, ‘Send everybody! Send everybody!'” she said. “It doesn’t seem like it can be really happening. I feel like I’m in shock.”

The toll exceed that of one of the most notorious U.S. school shootings, the 1999 rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where two teenagers killed 13 students and staff before killing themselves.

A girl described to NBC Connecticut hearing seven loud “booms” while she was in gym class. Other children began crying and teachers moved the students to an office, she said.

“A police officer came in and told us to run outside and so we did,” the unidentified girl said on camera.

The United States has experienced a number of shooting rampages this year, most recently in Oregon, where a gunman opened fire at a shopping mall on Tuesday, killing two people and then himself.

The deadliest came in July at a midnight screening of a Batman film in Colorado that killed 12 people and wounded 58.

In 2007, 32 people were killed at Virginia Tech university in the deadliest act of criminal gun violence in U.S. history.

(Additional reporting by Hilary Russ, Edith Honan, Chris Francescani, Peter Rudegeair, Ellen Wulfhorst, David Gregorio and Erin Geiger Smith; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Jim Loney; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Quiet Connecticut town rocked by mass shooting at elementary school http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/14/us-usa-shooting-connecticut-town-idUSBRE8BD1BU20121214?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/2012/12/14/quiet-connecticut-town-rocked-by-mass-shooting-at-elementary-school/#comments Fri, 14 Dec 2012 22:14:18 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/?p=81 NEWTOWN, Connecticut (Reuters) – The peace and security of the suburban Connecticut community of Newtown lay shattered on Friday after a gunman attacked a primary school in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

Tearful parents and children gathered around Sandy Hook Elementary School by midday on Friday, surrounded by police vehicles, as young and old alike struggled to make sense of a shooting rampage that killed at least 28 people, including 20 children.

Mergim Bajraliu, a 17-year-old high school student, said he was at his home nearby when he heard two shots. He and a neighbor ran to the school to find his 9-year-old sister, Venesa, a fourth-grader.

“My heart sank,” he said, describing seeing two students covered in blood being carried out of the building, one of whom looked like his sister. To his relief, his sister later emerged unharmed, and Bajraliu greeted her with a hug.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God,” Bajraliu said.

Police said a heavily armed gunman fatally shot 26 people, including 20 children at the school, and was later found dead in the school building. Another adult was found dead in the town, which police were investigating as a related incident.

Home to about 27,000 people, the wealthy, wooded town of Newtown is in southeastern Connecticut, about 80 miles northeast of New York City. It is a bedroom community, with many homes situated on multiple acres of land and residents commuting to larger cities including Hartford and Stamford.

“You can never be prepared for this kind of incident,” Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy told reporters. “What has happened, what has transpired at this school building will leave a mark on this community and every family impacted.”

ILLUSIONS OF SAFETY SHATTERED

Local churches quickly organized evening memorial services to help residents cope with the trauma that shattered their illusions of safety.

“I don’t think you are safe anywhere,” said Lori Amaral, who lives about 1/4 mile from the school. She added that her college-age daughter and her friends were afraid even to go out to the vigil.

“They are afraid to go anywhere,” Amaral said.

John Hess was at the airport in Cleveland on Friday morning when his wife, Patty, called him to tell him about the shooting. He immediately hopped a plane home to Newtown, where his family moved recently from nearby Stamford.

“We moved here because we thought it would be a safe community,” Hess said.

‘IN A DAZE’

Parents of children at the school for kindergarten-to-fourth-grade students gathered at a fire station down the street from the school building to await news of their children.

Helicopters hovered over the school building and scores of cars were parked on lawns up and down the street, reflecting the hurried response of police, parents and officials after the shooting took place around 9:30 a.m. local time (1430 GMT).

“Everybody was crying,” said Alexis Wasik, 8, a third-grader who was in the school when the shooting began. “I was a little scared and felt sick to my stomach.”

Friday’s attack was the deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. school since a 2007 sniper attack at Virginia Tech left 32 people dead.

“I am still in a daze,” said Alexis’ mother, Lynn. “My heart is in a million pieces for the children.”

Juanita Hall, a school counselor in nearby Ridgefield, whose daughter attends the school, said it would take time for the residents to recover from the shock.

“The most difficult thing is to have a conversation with the children about this. My immediate thoughts were about Columbine,” Hall said, referring to a 1999 incident in which students at a Colorado high school killed 13 students and staff.

“It’s going to take a very long time for this community to get over this, if it’s even possible. I’m not sure it’s even possible.”

(Writing by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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At least 27 dead, including 18 children, in Connecticut school shooting http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/14/usa-shooting-connecticut-update-12-pix-t-idUSL1E8NE53F20121214?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/2012/12/14/at-least-27-dead-including-18-children-in-connecticut-school-shooting/#comments Fri, 14 Dec 2012 20:25:21 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/chris-kaufman/?p=79 , Dec 14 (Reuters) – A heavily armed gunman
opened fire on school children and staff at a Connecticut
elementary school on Friday, killing 26 people including 18
children in the latest in a series of shooting rampages that
have tormented the United States this year, U.S. media reported.

The gunman was dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in
Newtown, Connecticut, state police Lieutenant Paul Vance told a
news conference.

Vance declined to report casualty figures but CBS News said
18 children and nine adults were dead, including the shooter.

One of the dead was the shooter’s mother, a teacher at the
school, The New York Times reported, citing a law enforcement
official. One entire classroom was unaccounted for, The Hartford
Courant reported.

The suspected shooter, 24, was armed with four weapons and
wearing a bullet-proof vest, WABC reported.

If confirmed, it would be one of the worst mass shootings in
U.S. history. The holiday season tragedy was the second shooting
rampage in the United States this week and was certain to revive
a debate about U.S. gun laws.

Witnesses reported hearing dozens of shots with some saying
as many as 100 were fired.

Another person was being held in police custody after he was
detained in the woods near the school wearing camouflage pants,
CBS reported.

BLOODIED CHILDREN EXIT SCHOOL

Sandy Hook Elementary School teaches children from
kindergarten through fourth grade – roughly ages 5 to 10.

“It was horrendous,” said parent Brenda Lebinski, who rushed
to the school where her daughter is in the third grade.
“Everyone was in hysterics – parents, students. There were kids
coming out of the school bloodied. I don’t know if they were
shot, but they were bloodied.”

Television images showed police and ambulances at the scene,
and parents rushing toward the school. Parents were seen
reuniting with their children and taking them home.

“This is going to be bad,” a state official told Reuters,
requesting anonymity because the scope of the tragedy remained
uncertain.

President Barack Obama was notified and would receive
regular updates throughout the day, White House spokesman Jay
Carney said.

“As a father, incidents like these weigh heavily on him
(Obama), and I think everyone who has children can imagine the
enormous suffering that accompanies an event like this,” Carney
said.

Carney called the event “tragic” and said there would be
time later for a discussion of policy implications.

Obama remains committed to trying to renew a ban on assault
weapons, Carney said.

‘MASKED MAN’

Lebinski said a mother who was at the school during the
shooting told her a “masked man” entered the principal’s office
and may have shot the principal. Lebinski, who is friends with
the mother who was at the school, said the principal was
“severely injured.”

Lebinski’s daughter’s teacher “immediately locked the door
to the classroom and put all the kids in the corner of the
room.”

Murphy has a friend with a daughter in Sandy Hook, and the
daughter is OK. She did get an automated call from the school
department this morning saying there was a “possible shooting”
at the elementary school and that all schools were on lockdown.

Melissa Murphy, who lives near the school, monitored events
on a police scanner.

“I kept hearing them call for the mass casualty kit and
scream, ‘Send everybody! Send everybody!'” Murphy said. “It
doesn’t seem like it can be really happening. I feel like I’m in
shock.”

A girl interviewed by NBC Connecticut described hearing
seven loud “booms” while she was in gym class. Other children
began crying and teachers moved the students to a nearby office,
she said.

“A police officer came in and told us to run outside and so
we did,” the unidentified girl said on camera.

Newtown, with a population about 27,000, is in northern
Fairfield County, about 45 miles (70 km) southwest of Hartford
and 80 miles (130 km) northeast of New York City.

The United States has experienced a number of mass shooting
rampages this year, most recently in Oregon, where a gunman
opened fire at a shopping mall on Tuesday, killing two people
and then himself.

The deadliest came in July at a midnight screening of a
Batman film in Colorado that killed 12 people and wounded 58.

The Sandy Hook tragedy would be the deadliest elementary
school shooting in U.S. history.

The worst U.S. high school shooting happened in 1999 when
two students, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, went on a rampage
at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, killing 12
students and a teacher before turning their guns on themselves.

In 2007, 32 people were killed at Virginia Tech university
in the deadliest act of gun violence in U.S. history.

In another notorious school shooting outside of the United
States, in 1996 a gunman opened fire in an elementary school in
Dunblane, Scotland, and killed 16 children and an adult before
killing himself.

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