Town United by Grief Searches for Answers
by Tamer El-Ghobashy, Matthew Dolan and Josh Dawsey
December 16, 2012
SANDY HOOK, Conn.—President Barack Obama spoke of every parent's grief and singled out the bravery of teachers who tried to save children from a gunman's attack on a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.
"I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope that it helps for you to know, that you're not alone in your grief. That our world, too, has been torn apart," Mr. Obama said at an emotional interfaith prayer service Sunday evening. "Newtown, you are not alone."
Before the speech, the president met with victims' families and first responders in six classrooms set aside in Newtown High School.
The president said the nation was failing to protect its children and that he would commit to an effort to prevent such shootings. He concluded the 19-minute address by reading the first names of each child who was killed.
Earlier on Sunday, authorities said the gunman who killed his mother at home and then fatally shot 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School had hundreds of rounds of unspent ammunition when he apparently heard the approach of police sirens and shot himself.
Authorities investigating how 20-year-old Adam Lanza allegedly carried out the killings Friday morning said it could take weeks to draw a clear picture of what motivated the reclusive man to target two first-grade classrooms in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
As parents and local townspeople mourned the loss Sunday of the gunman's 27 victims, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy suggested in an interview on ABC the toll could have been even greater. "We surmise that it was during the second classroom episode that he heard responders coming and apparently at that, decided to take his own life," he said.
Some residents seeking comfort in church services Sunday at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church were evacuated around 12:30 p.m. after "a menacing call that threatened to disrupt the Mass in a violent way," said Brian Wallace, a spokesman for the Diocese of Bridgeport. The church campus was closed for the rest of the day without incident.
Police investigators, meanwhile, worked to reconstruct the movements of the suspected attacker, beginning with interviews of two adults who were shot and wounded at the elementary school, said a spokesman for the Connecticut State Police. Detectives next move to the task of interviewing the rest of the many witnesses from the school, which enrolled about 600 students and employed approximately 40 teachers.
"Our goal is to answer every single question," state police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said. "It's a huge case, we're using every single resource and our goal is to paint a complete picture so that we all know…exactly what happened here."
Mr. Lanza emptied multiple high-capacity magazines from an assault rifle that was registered to his mother, 52-year-old Nancy Lanza, Lt. Vance said. Each magazine was capable of carrying 30 rounds, he said.
Churches in and around Newtown, Conn., held vigils and special services to help comfort those affected by the shootings that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Video by WSJ's Evan Simon.
A law-enforcement official said the rifle used in the campus attack was a Bushmaster XM-15 model, an assault rifle popular for its light weight and reliability. A similar model was used in the July mass shooting at a Colorado theater that killed 12 people.
Police also found two handguns, a Glock 10mm and a Sig Sauer 9mm, and additional magazines for each weapon containing hundreds more bullets at the school, Lt. Vance said. Ms. Lanza was shot several times in the head at her home before the school attack, authorities said. A shotgun was recovered in a car the gunman used to drive to the school, he said.
Authorities said it would be weeks before they issue a final report, involving about 250 investigators. But interviews with eyewitnesses, police reports and a 40-minute, chaos-filled recording of one of the emergency response calls outlined how the attack unfolded.
At approximately 9:30 a.m. Newtown Police received a 911 phone call.
"Call indicates she thinks someone is shooting in the building," a public safety official said at the start of the recording. Another voice chimed in: "Units responding to the Sandy Hook school. The front glass has been broken, and they're unsure why."
Mr. Lanza had shot his way into the school through a plate-glass partition next to a locked front door, Mr. Malloy said. Soon, the halls were filled with the sound of children screaming. Then the voices fell quiet, "and all you could hear was the shooting," said school therapist Diane Day.
Principal Dawn Hochsprung and psychologist Mary Sherlach, who were in a meeting with Ms. Day and others, left to investigate. Both were shot dead.
Someone turned on a campus loudspeaker system, which broadcast cries and screams that warned others, one teacher said.
First-grade teacher Kaitlin Roig, whose classroom was located near the school's entrance, said in a TV interview that she put a bookshelf in front of her classroom door and hustled her students into the bathroom.
Mr. Lanza moved past her room to two nearby first-grade classrooms, killing 20 children, two teachers, an aide and a therapist with the assault rifle. He used one of the handguns to kill himself with a single bullet to the head, according to a spokeswoman for the state medical examiner.
Asked about Mr. Lanza's mental state, Mr. Malloy said to NBC that "this is not a person who maintained normal relationships."
Mr. Lanza's mother was the first victim in the shooting spree in the sprawling home she shared with the suspected shooter in Newtown, which includes the village of Sandy Hook. Authorities discovered her death after the school killings.
Authorities, meanwhile, said Sunday they have begun returning the bodies of victims to their families.
Daniel Honan, whose Honan Funeral Home is on Main Street in Newtown, said he was handling the arrangements for 11 of the children killed. The company's online memory book shows 12 services were conducted in 2012.
"Basically we're going to be doing two a day," Mr. Honan said. "We're doing what we do, helping families to bury their dead and follow their wishes. This is great tragedy."
Read more: http://goo.gl/vOvEM
Gun Expert Lott: Let Teachers Carry Arms, Ban Gun-Free Zones to Halt Mass Shootings
by David A. Patten
December 15, 2012
Banning gun-free zones and allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons could help eliminate mass shootings at schools, John R. Lott, one of the nation's leading gun experts, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview Saturday.
Lott, an author and college professor, told Newsmax that gun-free zones become “a magnet” for deranged killers who hope to burn their names into the history books by running up a big body count.
Lott’s landmark book "More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws" is in its 3rd edition. He told Newsmax there is a “very good chance” the Connecticut school shooting could have been averted, if teachers there were permitted to carry concealed handguns.
It is no accident, he said, that mass shootings repeatedly have occurred in designated gun-free zones, which attract lunatics looking to murder as many souls as possible before they turn their guns on themselves.
Newsmax: Dr. Lott, your work suggests people are more secure, rather than less so, when firearms are readily available in society.
Dr. Lott: Simply telling them to behave passively turns out to be pretty bad advice . . . By far the safest course of action for people to take, when they are confronting a criminal, is to have a gun. This is particularly true for the people in our society who are the most vulnerable.
Newsmax: The media typically spins these mass shootings as an American phenomenon. They suggest we ought to be more like Europe, with strong gun control, because then we would not have these problems. Is that true?
Dr. Lott: No. Europe has a lot of multiple victim shootings. If you look at a per capita rate, the rate of multiple-victim public shootings in Europe and the United States over the last 10 years have been fairly similar to each other. A couple of years ago you had a couple of big shootings in Finland. About two-and-a-half years ago you had a big shooting in the U.K., 12 people were killed.
You had Norway last year [where 77 died]. Two years ago, you had the shooting in Austria at a Sikh Temple. There have been several multiple-victim public shootings in France over the last couple of years. Over the last decade, you’ve had a couple of big school shootings in Germany. Germany in terms of modern incidents has two of the four worst public-school shootings, and they have very strict gun-control laws. The one common feature of all of those shootings in Europe is that they all take place in gun-free zones, in places where guns are supposed to be banned.
Newsmax: Can you give readers an example of an incident where a teacher or authority-figure with a gun was able to thwart a violent shooting?
Dr. Lott: There was the university case in the Appalachian law school. You had the K through 12 in Mississippi and the one in Edinboro, Pa. You had New Life Church [in December 2007] — you had 7,000 parishioners there when the person broke into the church with about a thousand rounds of ammunition.
But there was a woman there, a former Chicago police officer who had gotten a concealed handgun permit because she was being stalked by her ex-husband. She had asked permission from the minister there to be able to carry a concealed handgun. She was worried if she couldn’t carry it at the church there, that she would be vulnerable going to and from the church. She shot at him 10 times, wounding him, and he committed suicide . . . These types of cases occur all around us, and they usually don’t get much attention, especially if they are stopped before people are injured or killed.
Newsmax: How can society prevent such mass shootings, or are they avoidable at all?
Dr. Lott: About 75 percent of the time when these attacks occur, the killers themselves die at the scene. Even the times when they don’t die, it seems pretty clear their intent was to die, but they just couldn’t bring themselves to commit suicide, pull the trigger, and shoot themselves at the last moment.
But in their warped mind, what they want to do is commit suicide in a way that will get them attention, so people know who they were when they were here. I’s a pretty sick idea, but if you read the documents that they leave, the diaries and the video tapes, it is pretty clear that these guys know that they get more attention the more people they can kill.
Read more: http://goo.gl/aJ3El
Rep. Louie Gohmert: I Wish to God that the Principal Would Have Had an M4
by Leah Barkoukis
November 16, 2012
Many people are insisting we all sit down and have a thoughtful, calm reflection on the Second Amendment after the Connecticut massacre. Others, particularly on the Left, are more forthright and are demanding more gun control. If we are to engage in the former, however, I want to share some of the arguments Rep. Louie Gohmert made today on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.
The segment with Gohmert began with footage of Eric Holder saying we need to discuss who we are as a nation, talk about the freedom and rights we have, and how they can be used in a responsible way. In other words, he wants to talk about gun control. Rep. Gohmert’s response, which brought up Fast and Furious, was priceless:
“Well I think coming from him that’s really important to note coming from a man who’s in a department that forced the sale of guns to people that would bring about the death of people like Brian Terry and there should be national outrage about Mexicans, our neighbors, 200 or more that have been killed by the guns his department have forced to be sold, so he’s right. And Sen. Durbin is right but the conversation we’ve got to have has got to have everybody open-minded. I mean, we all react emotionally that’s why we’ve all shed tears…”
Wallace then brought up the Aurora movie theater massacre and Gohmert making the argument in its aftermath for more people to carry weapons to prevent a similar situation from happening. Wallace asks: “Do we really want folks in movie theaters, and shopping malls, and schools, armed?
Then the obligatory question by the media: Why do people need semi-automatic weapons? Wallace says these are weapons created for law enforcement, for the military, but why does the average person need these “weapons of mass destruction”?
Gohmert: Well, for the reason that George Washington said: A free people should be an armed people. It ensures against the tyranny of the government if they know that the biggest army is the American people, then you don’t have the tyranny that came from King George. That’s why it was put in there. Once you start drawing the line, where do you stop? And that’s why it is important to not just look emotionally – emotionally our reaction is to immediately say lets get rid of all guns…you do it as a judge. You react emotionally but you use your head and you look at the facts and the facts are that every time guns have been allowed, concealed carry have been allowed, the crime rate has gone down.
Read more: http://goo.gl/B9T6g