Story Summary

Newtown Elementary School Shooting

newtown-memorialA gunman opened fire in a Connecticut elementary school on December 14, killing 26 people — 20 of them children. All of the children were either 6 or 7 years old. The gunman also killed his mother, police said.

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A pastor at a church in Newtown, Connecticut mourns the victims and help the community find solace.

Newtown, Connecticut (CNN) — In yet another day of heartbreak, three more tiny victims of a massacre in Newtown will be laid to rest Thursday, a now-familiar sight of processions rolling down streets lined with tearful mourners.

Allison Wyatt, 6, loved to draw and wanted to be an artist.

Benjamin Wheeler, 6, with the impish smile, was a big fan of the Beatles.

Red-headed Catherine Hubbard, 6, loved animals.

A memorial service will be held for teacher Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, 30, who was hired full-time in November. Her boyfriend wishes he had more than a year with her.

As Newtown faces another somber day, it is also bracing for the sight of dark hearses and funeral processions for days.

The Connecticut Funeral Directors Association announced a total of 22 funerals, nine concluded before Thursday. A list of more to come runs through Saturday.

Funeral processions turned the holiday season into a period of heart-wrenching loss.

The town converted Christmas trees into memorials for the 20 children and six adults killed when a gunman blasted his way through Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The gunman then killed himself. Earlier, he had fatally shot his mother.

Residents of the close-knit community have braved cold, rainy weather for hours to pay their respects to the victims.

“It’s an assembly line of wakes and funerals,” said Lillian Bittman, former chairwoman of the Newtown education board. “We can’t even figure out which ones to go to. There are so many.”

In addition to the young victims, the community also paid tribute to those who died protecting them.

A police honor guard saluted Victoria Soto, 27, a first-grade teacher killed trying to shield her students from bullets. Bagpipers played outside the Lordship Community Church in Stratford, Connecticut.

Singer Paul Simon, a friend of the family, sang “The Sound of Silence” at her family’s request.

“You were an angel to those 19 children you protected, to the 19 families and the community,” Soto’s sister, Jillian, said at the service Wednesday.

Soto wanted to be a teacher since she was age 3.

Principal Dawn Hochsprung’s calling hours were held Wednesday, the funeral association said. Her funeral will be private.

The community also bid farewell to several students Wednesday: Daniel Barden, 7, and Caroline Previdi and Charlotte Bacon, both 6.

As the grieving continues, new details emerged about the gunman’s mother.

Just before the shooting, Nancy Lanza was on vacation alone alone at a luxury resort in New Hampshire, friends said Wednesday.

She checked in at the Omni Mount Washington Resort & Hotel in Bretton Woods on Tuesday, December 11 and left two days later, the hotel said.

Soon after she left the hotel, authorities say, her son Adam Lanza, 20, killed her and opened fire at the elementary school. She checked out Thursday afternoon. Her son went on a shooting rampage Friday morning.

It was not unusual for her to take road trips alone, according to her friends. She seemed to be in good spirits during the trip and felt comfortable leaving her son unsupervised in recent years, they said.

Authorities have said the shooter took three of his mother’s weapons — two handguns and a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle — to the elementary school.

The complete police report is not expected to be out for months, according to the Connecticut State Police. Investigators will be sitting down with the victims’ families and survivors for a long time to come.

The deadly shooting rampage has ignited renewed national debates over gun control, mental health care and school safety.

U.S. President Barack Obama pushed for a quick January deadline for proposals to deal with gun violence.

A new group led by Vice President Joe Biden is charged with developing “concrete proposals” for dealing with gun violence “no later than January.” Obama said.

The group will include some Cabinet members and outside organizations.

No single law or set of laws can prevent gun violence, but the complexity of the issue “can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing,” he said.

Obama urged quick action from Congress, saying authorities must work to make “access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, has said she will introduce legislation to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. The White House said Tuesday that the president supports that effort.

Some cities nationwide are planning a moment of silence Friday morning, a week since the massacre.

Seeking to put out the message that Newtown, is not alone – several area cities organized the “Tribute to Newtown” Wednesday evening at Western Connecticut State University.

DANBURY, CT (CNN)- Seeking to put out the message that Newtown is not alone,  several nearby cities have organized the “Tribute to Newtown” this evening at Western Connecticut State University.

More of the fallen were laid to rest today, including 7-year-old Daniel Barden and teacher 27-year-ld Victoria Soto who has been called a hero for giving up her life to protect her students.

“She just loved life, and she loved teaching,” said sister Carlee Soto.

“She would not hesitate to think to save anyone else before herself,” added Soto’s mother Donna. “She loved the children more than life.”

The issue of gun control has been front and center since Friday’s shooting that killed 20 children and 7 adults.

President Obama today took the first steps in his effort to change gun policy in America, asking Vice President Joe Biden to establish a set of proposal by the end of next month.

“This is not something where folks are gonna be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside, ” said the President. “This is a team that has a very specific task to pull together real reforms right now.”

NEWTOWN, Conn. (CNN) — Heartbreaking funerals continued in Newtown, Connecticut on Wednesday, as several more students and a beloved teacher are laid to rest.

They are among those killed when Adam Lanza shot his mother four times in the head before shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary, opening fire on staff and students no older than 7. Lanza then killed himself.

Victoria “Vicki” Soto, a first-grade teacher who tried to shield her students from bullets, was buried Wednesday.

A police honor guard saluted her casket as bagpipers played outside the Lordship Community Church in Stratford, Connecticut.

The church set up more than 100 chairs outside the building to accommodate the overflow of people paying their respects.

“You were an angel to those 19 children you protected, to the 19 families and the community,” Soto’s sister Jillian said at the service.

“She would not hesitate to think to save anyone else before herself, and especially children,” her mother Donna has said of Soto. “She loved them more than life, and she would definitely put herself in front of them any day.”

Soto, 27, wanted to be a teacher since she was 3 years old.

She “instinctively went into action when a monster came into her classroom and tried to protect the kids that she loved so much,” cousin James Wiltsie said. “We just want the public to know that Vicki was a hero.”

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan traveled to Newtown to pay his respects to the family of school principal Dawn Hochsprung, and “to hear from educators on how we can help,” he said on Twitter.

Hochsprung’s family had calling hours scheduled for Wednesday. Her funeral will be private on Thursday, outside of Connecticut.

Seven-year-old Daniel Barden’s burial was scheduled for Wednesday, as well.

His “fearless” pursuit of happiness earned him ripped jeans, his family said.

Taking after his musician dad, Daniel formed a band with his brother and sister, playing the drums.

“He embodied everything that is wholesome and innocent in the world,” Daniel’s family said.

Caroline Previdi’s relatives also were saying their final goodbyes Wednesday.

Even after her death, 6-year-old Caroline continued to touch the lives of others. A Facebook page called “RIP Caroline Previdi — Sandy Hook Massacre Victim” had more than 5,400 “likes” on Wednesday morning.

Charlotte Bacon was another 6-year-old whose life was cut short. Charlotte, a beaming bundle of energy under bright red curls, also had a burial scheduled for Wednesday.

Black hearses with caskets will continue driving though Newtown for days to come.

For Sandy Hook students, no school until January

Unlike students at other schools who returned Tuesday, Sandy Hook students are not expected to go back until January.

Their school is a crime scene. The current plan is for them to resume classes next year at the former Chalk Hill Middle School, eight miles away in neighboring Monroe, Newtown Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson said in a letter to parents.

“We need to tend to our teachers’ and students’ needs to feel comfortable after this trauma in this new place,” she wrote.

Teachers may call parents “to invite you to visit Chalk Hill with your child this week to walk around and see the classroom and get familiar with this new Sandy Hook home.”

At other schools, students went back to class with their sense of normalcy shattered. They were met by police, counselors and teachers, who all face a tremendous burden.

How do they explain to children what happened? How do they help make them feel safe?

David Schonfeld, a crisis counselor who gave a presentation to Newtown teachers about how to talk to students, said they have to meet children where they are.

“I told them that as far as I was concerned, there was really only one lesson plan that they needed to teach before they broke for the (holidays), and that was to make sure that the children knew that they were safe and that they cared about them and they were going to care for them,” he said.

The teachers’ union said classes would discuss the tragedy in an age-appropriate manner.

The investigation

Authorities are still working to determine a motive for the shooting spree.

So far, they have been unable to retrieve data from a computer in Lanza’s home, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.

The gunman apparently smashed the computer and extensively damaged the hard drive, the official said, adding that the FBI is assisting Connecticut State Police.

Lanza’s mother was shot four times in the head while she slept in her bed, said Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver.

Adam Lanza killed himself with a shot to the front of his head from a handgun, the medical examiner said.

Toxicology tests are under way to determine whether Adam Lanza had taken medication.

Authorities have said the shooter took three of his mother’s weapons — two handguns and a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle — to the elementary school.

There are no records of any police incident calls to the Lanza home in the past, state police said Wednesday.

Attorney General Eric Holder had no comment on what the FBI has found in the investigation.

Shedding new light on the gunman

While Carver, the chief medical examiner, said he was told that Adam Lanza had Asperger’s syndrome, officials are working to determine whether that diagnosis was correct, and whether he may have had other diagnosable problems.

A former director of security for Newtown Public Schools shed new light Monday night on the gunman.

Richard Novia said Adam Lanza had Asperger’s syndrome, based on documents and conversations with Lanza’s mother.

Novia said that as part of his job, which he left in 2008, he would be informed of students who might pose problems to themselves or others.

He also said he received “intake information,” which he said “is common for any students troubled or impaired or with disabilities.” The idea was to keep track of and help students who may need it.

However, Novia said he never thought Lanza was a threat and certainly never thought he was capable of such violence.

Russ Hanoman, a friend of Lanza’s mother, previously told CNN that Lanza had Asperger’s and that he was “very withdrawn emotionally.”

CNN has not been able to independently confirm whether Lanza was diagnosed with autism or Asperger’s, a higher-functioning form of autism. Both are developmental disorders, not mental illnesses.

Many experts say neither Asperger’s syndrome nor autism can be blamed for the rampage.

“There is absolutely no evidence or any reliable research that suggests a linkage between autism and planned violence,” the Autism Society said in a statement.

“To imply or suggest that some linkage exists is wrong and is harmful to more than 1.5 million law-abiding, nonviolent and wonderful individuals who live with autism each day.”

Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist and autism expert at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, also said the gunman’s actions can’t be linked to autism spectrum disorders.

“Aggression and violence in the ASD population is reactive, not preplanned and deliberate,” he said.

NEWTOWN, CT (KTLA) – Schools in Newtown, Conn., are opening their doors today for the first time since Friday’s deadly shooting, however, many parents are choosing to keep their kids at home.

Sandy Hook Elementary, the school where 20 children died, will remain closed. It’s been designated a crime scene, and state police say it could be months before police turn the school back over to the district.

In the meantime, school officials are making plans to send students to a former middle school in a neighboring town.

Reporter Tory Dunnan reports from Newtown.

Experts say the gunman in the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting, Adam Lanza, suffered from Asperger’s syndrome.

The CDC says that Asperger’s syndrome is on the Autism spectrum of diseases and can cause behavioral, communication, and social challenges in the people who have it.

However, researchers have found no connection between the disease and violence.

But experts tell KTLA that people with condition are often obsessive, have a difficult time with empathy and are more prone to suffer from mental illness.  And that, expert conclude, may fit the profile of Adam Lanza.

KTLA 5′s Carolyn Costello reports.

Animal lovers will attest to the power of a four-legged friend when there are no words to ease the pain. A group of golden retrievers traveled from Illinois to Newtown, Connecticut, the day after a gunman killed 27 people in the tight-knit community.

The town is mourning 20 children and six adults who were victims of the mass shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the shooter’s mother who was killed in her home.

The organization Lutheran Church Charities brought the dogs to give comfort to anyone there in need. Chewy, Ruthie, Abbi, Prince, Luther, Maggie, Hanna, Barney, and Shanni are the therapeutic canines offering a calm, loving presence. They give children and adults a reason to smile after disasters and crisis.

They were young children, with hopes and dreams and special talents and teachers who gave their lives to save the lives of others. Chris Wolfe has a closer look at the victims of the Newtown shooting.