|White balloons are tied to the Sandy Hook Elementary School where Adam Lanza (inset) opened fire
Washington - In the aftermath of Friday’s elementary school shooting, a shattered New England town searched for clues to why a young man would commit so heinous an act.
The attacker was identified by law enforcement sources as Adam Lanza, who killed 20 young children between the ages of 5 and 10, plus six adults and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Lanza’s life will be dissected and analysed in the days to come as investigators dig into the background of the 20-year-old, who law enforcement sources say returned to his elementary school and opened fire.
Another adult was found dead at a nearby home, bringing the death toll to 28. Authorities say Lanza shot his mother at their home before driving her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School and — armed with at least two handguns —carried out the massacre, officials said.
A third weapon, a .223-caliber rifle, was found in the car, and more guns were recovered. Lanza’s aunt Marsha Lanza said her nephew was raised by kind parents who would not have hesitated to seek mental help. If her son needed counseling, “Nancy wasn’t one to deny reality,” she said.
|People embrace each other outside the school
Marsha Lanza said her husband had seen Adam as recently as June and recalled nothing out of the ordinary. Lanza was a shy and unusually intelligent student, two former classmates recall.
In Newtown High School, he dressed more formally than other students, often wearing khakis, button- down shirts and at times, a pocket protector, said Tim Arnone who first met Lanza at Sandy Hook.
The two of them joined the high school’s audio- visual club, also known as a tech club, and spent free periods playing video games at the school’s television station studio. “It was definitely the nerdiest club in school. We called it the tech club. We had our own little section in the room,” Arnone, 20, said. He said Lanza was “driven hard” to succeed academically by his parents, particularly his mother.
“She pushed him hard to be smarter and work harder in school,” Arnone said. Nancy Lanza and her husband, Peter Lanza, divorced in 2008, according to public records. Dan Holmes, a landscaping firm owner, described Nancy Lanza as an avid gun collector who once showed him a “high-end rifle” that she had purchased. “She said she would often go target shooting with her kids,” he said.
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, a rifle, that they believe belonged to him. A second former classmate described Lanza as smart but without many friends.
He said Lanza was a big fan of Japanese culture, collecting Pokemon cards and playing the PlayStation video game Dynasty Warriors, a weapons-based fighting game. “He was a very quiet kid. I remember being his only friend He was always a really nice kid, very polite.”
Lanza’s older brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, of New Jersey, was questioned, but not believed to have had a role in the rampage. He said his brother may have suffered from a personality disorder and lived with his mother, an enforcement agency official said.
Bodies removed from school
The bodies of 20 young children and six adults massacred by a lone gunman in a quiet US town were finally removed from the blood-soaked school on Saturday, police said.
“By early this morning, they were able to positively identify all of the victims and make formal identification to all of the families of the victims,” said Connecticut State Police spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vance.
The removal of bodies, which were initially left for investigators, “has been accomplished. That was done overnight,” he told CBS.
Principal left ‘Trail of happy tweets’ before being killed
Principal Dawn Hochsprung of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, who was among the victims of the shooting, had been posting cheerful updates on Twitter regarding the school.
“It’s a beautiful day for our annual evacuation drill!” Hochsprung tweeted last month, when nobody dreamed the school would become a killing ground, New York Daily News reports. In a post on Thursday, Hochsprung wrote, on a picture of children’s books, ‘Setting up for the Sandy Hook nonfiction book preview for staff.
Here we come.’ However, a survivor reported seeing the bodies of the principal, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, and other staffers.
Iran sympathises with families
Iran was quick to express condolences after the “tragic” shooting rampage in the United States. Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast expressed sympathy with the families of the victims, the state broadcaster’s website IRIB reported.
He also called on American society to mobilise against “warmongering and the massacre of innocent people anywhere, through terrorism, whether statesponsored or not.
There is no difference between children and teenagers who fall victim to armed actions, whether it be inside Gaza, the US, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq or Syria,” Mehmanparast said in a statement. Iran and the United States have had no diplomatic relations for over three decades.
The two arch-foes regularly accuse each other of supporting terrorist groups in the Middle East.
► The targeting of children is heinous and unthinkable
- UN chief Ban Ki-moon
► Young lives full of hope have been destroyed
- European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso
► The thoughts and prayers of Canadians are with the students and families affected by this senseless violence
- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
► The Pope “has asked me to convey his heartfelt grief and assurance of his closeness in prayer to the victims and their families, and to all affected by the shocking event”
- Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone
► 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
- British Prime Minister David Cameron