December 15, 2012
December 15, 2012
First grade teacher Victoria Soto, 27, died when she threw herself in front of the gunman's bullets to save her students. Another school employee saved 18 kids by hiding them inside a library supply closet. As investigators try to piece together the massacre, Newtown is hailing these women as heroes and mourning the young lives lost.
Investigators working around the clock uncovered “very good evidence” inside the Connecticut elementary school and nearby home where a mass murderer killed 27 people.
The information could help police determine the motive behind the bloody rampage by a shooter who killed his mother, 20 children and a half-dozen school staffers, Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance said Saturday.
The evidence will “help paint a complete picture” of the so-far inexplicable violence, Vance said at a news conference. But he declined to provide any specifics about what was found after the killings.
All the victims of the tragedy were now identified, and authorities planned to released their names later Saturday, according to Vance.
One of the slain students was the daughter of a veteran New York police lieutenant.
Vance said the investigation at the crime scene inside and outside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., could stretch into Monday.
Mass murderer Adam Lanza forced his way inside the school before spraying bullets across two classrooms inside the New England building, Vance said.
The lieutenant spoke as more details emerged about the heroic efforts by school employees that kept the already staggering death toll from soaring even higher.
First grade teacher Victoria Soto threw herself in front of the gunman’s bullets, sparing several of her students from death, according to several reports.
A neighbor next door to near Soto’s Stratford, Conn., home recalled her as a friendly face eager to offer a helping hand.
“She was beautiful,” the neighbor said Saturday. “She helped me do the yard. When she noticed I was sick, she helped me.”
Asked about Soto’s ultimate sacrifice, the neighbor expressed his admiration.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “I’m going to miss hearing her truck pull up. She was so beautiful. The prettiest thing.”
Neighbor Louise Ortega said she hoped to start a fund to cover Soto’s funeral expenses.
“I’m not surprised,” she said of Soto’s heroism. “I’m a nanny, and your instincts kick in to protect your kids.”
Soto was one of three teachers killed inside the school, along with the principal and a school psychologist.
Thousands mourn young lives lost at a vigil at St. Rose Church in Newtown Friday night.
Another large group of students were saved by a school employee on a morning when silence in the library was a matter of life and death.
Mary Ann Jacob recounted Saturday how she hid 18 kids inside a library supply closet after gunfire erupted in the hallways Friday morning.
The rapid response by the library clerk spared the children from joining the death toll at the Newtown, Conn., school.
“I shouted, ‘Lockdown!’” Jacobs said Saturday. “I tried to remain calm. I didn’t want the kids to panic … I just kept thinking, ‘Stay calm.’”
Jacob said a strange crackling over the school’s public address system was the first sign of something gone terribly wrong, followed by the sound of gunshots.
“I don’t remember how many,” she said. “It was bang! Bang! Bang!”
The shooting began around 9:30 a.m., and Jacob said the students remained quiet inside the supply closet until a police officer banged on the door about an hour later.
The worker slid a file cabinet in front of the library door before joining the kids inside the closet.
One day later, Jacob remained overwhelmed by the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, behind only the 2007 Virginia Tech mass murder.
“It’s hard to describe the horror of this situation, how these people were so loved,” she said. “They will all be so missed.”
The entire New England town was still reeling Saturday morning, barely 24 hours after 20-year-old Lanza — in combat fatigues and carrying two .9mm handguns — opened fire in the school where his mother once taught kindergarten.
The youngest victims were just 5 years old as Lanza sprayed dozens of bullets across two classrooms before killing himself.
Before going on the bloody elementary school rampage, Lanza killed his mother Nancy inside their Newtown home. The weapons used in the killings were all registered to Nancy Lanza.
After murdering his mom, Adam Lanza drove her car to the school and unleashed his rage on the innocents inside. The school’s principal and psychologist were among the six staffers killed.
Adam Lanza apparently attended the elementary school as a child, authorities said.
Police had yet to offer a motive for the killing that stunned the nation and brought tears to the eyes of President Obama.
Hundreds of Newtown residents, joined by friends and supporters from nearby towns, turned out Friday night for a pair of prayer vigils remembering the dead.