December 17, 2012

Obama: ‘These tragedies must end’

Obama speaks to families of the victims, and new details suggest the Connecticut school massacre could have been much worse.

By STEVE VOGEL, DAVID NAKAMURA and DAVID A. FAHRENTHOLD The Washington Post

NEWTOWN, Conn. — President Obama made his fourth sorrowful trip to a shocked and grieving community on Sunday, two days after a gunman stormed into an elementary school here and gunned down 20 first-graders and six adults.

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“You are not alone in your grief,” President Obama told the residents of Newtown, Conn., Sunday. “Our world, too, has been torn apart.”

McClatchy Newspapers

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Residents greet each other Sunday before the start of an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The vigil was being held at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn.

The Associated Press

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He spent part of the afternoon watching his own young daughter Sasha in a dance rehearsal, and then arrived a few hours later here to meet privately with the parents who won’t see their children sing and dance again. “You are not alone in your grief,” he said. “Our world, too, has been torn apart.”

The president was the last speaker in an interfaith vigil at Newtown High School. Of the massacre, he said, “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end.”

A long line of families waiting to get in had snaked around the building, many huddled under white Red Cross blankets.

Volunteers handed out stuffed puppy dogs to the many children.

The auditorium of the school, which was locked down for hours Friday because of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was full. Many of the children chattered happily with their friends, while adults huddled in small groups and hugged one another.

Kristen Rosengrant came with her sons, 5 and 9, who expressed dismay at the length of the line.

“The president’s an important dude,” she told the boys.

“As a mom, I’ve been so upset,” she told a reporter. “I felt we had to come show our support.”
She said she appreciated the president coming to her town, adding, “To be honest, I don’t think anything is going to help the families, but it’s nice to show concern.”

Dozens of church services had been held in the morning, as well as impromptu teary gatherings as people laid flowers and stuffed animals near the town’s flagpole. The evening event marked the first time this tightknit and shattered community gathered as one to grieve and speak of the unspeakable.

The details about the carnage continued to mount Sunday. The gunman, Adam Lanza, 20, carried “numerous” high-capacity ammunition magazines for his semiautomatic rifle, as well as multiple magazines for two other guns, police said. In all, he had hundreds of bullets with him when he shot out a pane of glass and entered Sandy Hook Elementary at 9:30 a.m. Friday. Police said Lanza used one gun – a Bushmaster-brand rifle – to kill 26 of those inside.

They said that Lanza had a number of 30-round magazines for this rifle. He also brought magazines for two other guns, pistols made by Sig Sauer and Glock, police said. But he apparently fired just one of those guns at the school, shooting himself in the head. Police found him dead.

Police did not say which weapon Lanza used to kill the first victim of his rampage, his mother. Nancy Lanza, 52, was killed in the home she and her son shared before Lanza went to Sandy Hook. Autopsy results released Sunday listed multiple gunshot wounds to her head.

The details about Adam Lanza’s weaponry, released by Connecticut State Police on Sunday afternoon, raised new questions about how he had obtained so many magazines. They signaled that Lanza’s massacre might have been much worse: When he died, police said, Lanza was still carrying large amounts of unused ammunition. He had left a fourth gun, a shotgun, in a car outside the school.

Still, police said Lanza was able to unleash unbelievable devastation with one weapon, and in just a few minutes. A reporter asked how many bullets had been fired during the rampage.

“That’s impossible to say,” said Lt. Paul Vance of the state police.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Residents look on during an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn.

The Associated Press

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Mourners at Sunday's interfaith vigil.

The Associated Press

 


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