The bodies of children and educators lay where they fell in a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school — in classrooms and hallways — as investigators worked to identity the dead early Saturday while piecing together the path of the gunman.
Twenty children and six adults were killed when the shooter opened fire Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School in a rampage that shattered the quiet of this southern New England town and left a nation reeling over the number of young lives lost.
Authorities were expected to announce the identities of the dead as early as Saturday morning, though the bodies could remain inside the school until as late as Sunday, said Lt. J. Paul Vance, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Police.
There were more questions than answers about the possible motive of the shooter, identified by three law enforcement officials as 20-year-old Adam Lanza — who authorities say appeared to have taken his own life, turning his gun on himself in the school.
Police say Lanza, who grew up in the tight-knit community of 27,000, killed his mother at her Newtown residence before going to the school where he primarily targeted two classrooms.
Within minutes, Lanza killed 26 people with chilling efficiency, leaving only one injured survivor, according to Vance. Among the adults killed were Dawn Hochsprung, the school’s beloved principal, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach.
“Stuff like this does not happen in Newtown,” roughly 60 miles northeast of New York City, said Renee Burn, a local teacher at another school in town.
Until Friday, only one homicide in the past 10 years had been reported in the upscale community of expansive homes surrounded by woods, where many residents commute to jobs in Manhattan and the nearby Connecticut cities of Stamford and Hartford.
The number of young victims, between the ages of 5 and 10, sent shockwaves across the nation.
“They had their entire lives ahead of them: birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own,” President Barack Obama said, wiping away tears.
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