NEWTOWN, CT (CBSNewYork/AP) — The massacre of 26 children and adults at a Connecticut elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, a 20-year-old described as brilliant but remote, was driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims.
Investigators were trying to learn more about Adam Lanza and questioned his older brother, who was not believed to have been involved in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary. Police shed no light on the motive for the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.
In tight-knit Newtown on Friday night, hundreds of people packed St. Rose of Lima Church and stood outside in a vigil for the 28 dead _ 20 children and six adults at the school, the gunman’s mother at home, and the gunman himself, who committed suicide. People held hands, lit candles and sang “Silent Night.”
“These 20 children were just beautiful, beautiful children,” Monsignor Robert Weiss said. “These 20 children lit up this community better than all these Christmas lights we have. — There are a lot brighter stars up there tonight because of these kids.”
Lanza is believed to have suffered from a personality disorder and lived with his mother, said a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation.
Asked at a news conference whether Lanza had left any emails or other writings that might explain the rampage, state police Lt. Paul Vance said investigators had found “very good evidence” and hoped it would answer questions about the gunman’s motives. Vance would not elaborate.
The tragedy plunged the picturesque New England town of 27,000 people into mourning.
“People in my neighborhood are feeling guilty about it being Christmas. They are taking down decorations,” said Jeannie Pasacreta, a psychologist who volunteered her services and was advising parents struggling with how to talk to their children.
Lanza shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, drove to the school in her car with at least three of her guns, and opened fire in two classrooms around 9:30 a.m. Friday, law enforcement officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A custodian ran through the halls, warning of a gunman, and someone switched on the intercom, perhaps saving many lives by letting them hear the chaos in the school office, a teacher said. Teachers locked their doors and ordered children to huddle in a corner, duck under their desks or hide in closets as shots reverberated through the building.
Among those killed was the school’s well-liked principal, Dawn Hochsprung. Town officials said she died while lunging at the gunman in an attempt to overtake him. A woman who worked at the school was wounded.
Maryann Jacob, a clerk in the school library, was in there with 18 fourth-graders when they heard a commotion and gunfire outside the room. She had the youngsters crawl into a storage room, and they locked the door and barricaded it with a file cabinet. There happened to be materials for coloring, “so we set them up with paper and crayons.”
After what she guessed was about an hour, officers came to the door and knocked, but those inside couldn’t be sure it was the police.
“One of them slid his badge under the door, and they called and said, `It’s OK, it’s the police,”’ she said.
A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said investigators believe Lanza attended the school several years ago but appeared to have no recent connection to it. It was not clear whether he held a job.
Lanza’s older brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, of Hoboken, N.J., was questioned, and investigators searched his computers and phone records, but he told law enforcement he had not been in touch with his brother since about 2010.
For about two hours late Friday and early Saturday, clergy members and emergency vehicles moved steadily to and from the school.
Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner Wayne Carver described a gruesome scene and that each child was likely shot more than once.
1010 WINS reporter Al Jones has more…
The gunman forced his way into the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade school, authorities said. He took three guns into the school _ a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both semiautomatic pistols, and a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle, according to an official who was not authorized to discuss information with reporters and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The weapons were registered to his slain mother.
Lanza and his mother lived in a well-to-do part of prosperous Newtown, about 60 miles northeast of New York City, where neighbors are doctors or hold white-collar positions at companies such as General Electric, Pepsi and IBM.
His parents filed for divorce in 2008, according to court records. His father, Peter Lanza, lives in Stamford, Conn., and works as a tax director for GE.
In Newtown, Robert Licata said his 6-year-old son was in class when the gunman burst in and shot the teacher. “That’s when my son grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door,” he said. “He was very brave. He waited for his friends.”
He said the shooter didn’t utter a word.
Kaitlin Roig, a teacher at the school, said she implored her students to be quiet.
“I told them we had to be absolutely quiet. Because I was just so afraid if he did come in, then he would hear us and just start shooting the door. I said we have to be absolutely quiet. And I said there are bad guys out there now and we need to wait for the good guys to come get us out,” Roig told ABC.
“If they started crying, I would take their face and say, `It’s going to be OK. Show me your smile,”’ she said. “They said, `We want to go home for Christmas. Yes, yeah. I just want to hug my mom.’ Things like that, that were just heartbreaking.”
You may share your thoughts in our comments section below…
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)