Gunman forced his way into school Friday, according to authorities
NEWTOWN, Conn. — The 20 children and six adults killed Friday morning in an southwestern Connecticut elementary school died in a shower of bullets from a semi-automatic rifle, with each victim struck more than one time, said the state’s chief medical examiner.
Dr. H. Wayne Carver II said he personally examined seven victims, each of whom was shot three to 11 times.
“I’ve been at this for a third of a century,” Carver said at an afternoon briefing. “And my sensibilities may not be [that of] the average man. But this probably is the worst I have seen, or the worst that I know of any of my colleagues having seen.”
State police released the names of the 26 victims murdered in the school. The children, 12 girls and eight boys, all appear to have been born in 2005 and 2006.
Police also said today that the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, had “forced his way” into the building and was not allowed in by school staff.
Authorities did not describe exactly how the heavily armed shooter, got into the building and have not yet offered a possible motive for the killings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Another murder victim, Lanza’s mother Nancy, was found at her nearby home.
Lanza apparently killed himself after the massacre. Carver said that while he did not want to “belabor the obvious,” he could not officially rule that Adam Lanza’s wounds were self-inflicted until he examines the body Sunday.
Throughout Newtown this morning, messages of condolence, written on homemade signs and banners, were posted in storefronts, at churches, and at homes.
Outside the firehouse on the road leading to the school, where the parents of dead children gathered late into the night Friday, a dozen white balloons could be seen today tied to a sign that reads: “Sandy Hook School …Visitors Welcome.”
A sign outside the St. Rose of Lima Catholic Parish says the church will be open 24 hours. Families with young children visited the church this morning, some stopping at candles set up outside. Mourners added a soccer ball, a doll, and flowers.
Around town, the expressions on most faces were grim. Some cried quietly, others seemed to struggle not to. Stricken with grief and overwhelmed by the immense media presence, some declined to talk to reporters and shied away from cameras. Several people appeared upset as they told the members of the press to leave them and their community alone.
At the Reed Intermediate School, counseling is being offered to friends, family, and others shaken by the tragedy. Media members were kept across the street from the school. Dozens of cars were in the parking lot.
More details on the horrific scene inside the school continued to trickle out this morning.
Mary Ann Jacob, who was teaching a class in the school library at about 9:30 a.m. Friday, told reporters gathered at this morning’s press briefing that she first knew something was amiss when the school intercom clicked on and she “heard some sort of scuffling and noises.”
It wasn’t loud enough to interrupt her class, she said, and occasionally the intercom is turned on accidentally, so she called the office to let them know. The secretary picked up the phone and said there was a shooter in the building.
Jacob and another teacher locked the library door, following emergency protocol, but they didn’t know whether that would be enough to keep a gunman out. So they herded the children into a storage closet in the back.
“We thought we were safe, but then we were like, what if he tries to come in and starts to shoot?” Jacob recalled. “We just thought it would protect the kids better.”
Jacob handed out packs of crayons and paper in the closet and instructed the children to color.
“We told them it was a drill,” Jacob recalled. But, she said, “we knew.”Mark Arsenault can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bostonglobemark. Martine Powers can be reached at email@example.com.Matt Rocheleau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at email@example.com.