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Principal killed while lunging at Connecticut gunman; names and ages of victims released

By John Christoffersen

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Dec. 15 2012 3:26 p.m. MST

NEWTOWN, Conn. — 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."

All six adults killed at the school were women. Of the 20 children who were shot to death, eight were boys and 12 were girls. All the children were ages 6 or 7.

All the victims of the Connecticut elementary school shooting were killed up close by multiple rifle shots, a medical examiner said.

Dr. H. Wayne Carver said at a news conference Saturday the deaths are classified as homicides. He said he believes "everybody was hit more than once."

"This is a very devastating set of injuries," Carver said.

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. Authorities said he had no criminal history.

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.

However, another law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that investigators have found no note or manifesto of the sort they have come to expect after murderous rampages.

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, authorities said.

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, according to a teacher. 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."

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