NEWTOWN, Conn. — A man killed his mother at their home and then opened fire yesterday inside the elementary school where she taught, massacring 26 people, including 20 children, as youngsters cowered in fear to the sound of gunshots reverberating through the building and screams echoing over the intercom.
The 20-year-old killer, carrying at least two handguns, took his own life at the school, bringing the death toll to 28, authorities said.
The rampage, coming less than two weeks before Christmas, was the nation’s second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre that claimed 33 lives in 2007.
“Our hearts are broken today,” a tearful President Barack Obama, struggling to maintain his composure, said at the White House. He called for “meaningful action” to prevent such shootings. “As a country, we have been through this too many times,” he said.
Police identified the shooter as Adam Lanza, who has family roots in Amesbury and Southern New Hampshire. His parents, Peter Lanza, 54, and Nancy (Champion) Lanza, were married in Kingston, N.H., in 1981, according to town records. Adam was born in Kingston in 1992. Peter was living in Amesbury when he married and his wife was living in Kingston. It is not clear when the Lanzas and their two sons moved to Connecticut.
Police shed no light on the motive for the attack. Adam Lanza was believed to suffer from a personality disorder and lived with his mother, said a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation but was not authorized to discuss it.
Panicked parents looking for their children raced to Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, a prosperous New England community of about 27,000 people 60 miles northeast of New York City. Police told youngsters at the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade school to close their eyes as they were led from the building so that they wouldn’t see the blood and broken glass.