Shooting victim Emilie Parker is shown in this undated
photo provided by her family. REUTERS/Emilie Parker
Twelve girls and eight boys. One had celebrated her
seventh birthday just four days before her death. They were
Charlotte and Jack, Noah and Grace.
Dressed in "cute kid stuff," all 20 died when a heavily armed
20-year-old gunman forced his way into their school, Sandy
Hook Elementary, and shot them and six women in an act of
violence that has shattered their once-tranquil suburban
"They were first-graders," said Connecticut Chief Medical
Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver II, before releasing the names
of all the victims of the school shootings on Saturday.
Asked to describe the attack, Carver, who
oversaw the autopsies of all the victims and conducted many
himself, called it "the worst I have seen."
The shooter, identified by law enforcement officials as Adam
Lanza, killed his mother Nancy on Friday, then drove to the
school where he gunned down another 26 people before taking
his own life in one of the deadliest mass shootings in US
He fired a rifle, shooting his victims multiple times.
Parents identified their children through pictures, a process
intended to minimize their shock, Carver said.
Police did not officially identify Lanza or his mother.
Members of the close-knit community went into public mourning
on Saturday as the depth of the tragedy became clear.
" I don't know how to get through something like this," said
Robbie Parker, a 30-year-old physician's assistant whose
6-year-old daughter Emilie was among the dead.
"My wife and I don't understand how to process this and how
to get our lives going," Parker told reporters. Emilie, the
oldest of his three children, Parker said, "could just light
up a room."
While Americans have seen many mass shootings in the past
decades, the victims have rarely been so young. On Saturday,
some Democratic lawmakers called for sweeping new gun-control
measures, a move certain to run up against stiff opposition
from the nation's powerful pro-gun lobby.
President Barack Obama, who a day earlier was moved to tears
on national television by the tragedy, called for "meaningful
action to prevent more tragedies like this," but stopped
short of specifically calling for tighter gun-control laws.
Townsfolk packed into the church memorial services held
throughout the day. On Saturday night, the pews at St. Rose
of Lima were packed with parishioners standing at the rear of
At least one person was missing - 6-year-old Olivia Engel,
who was to have had a role in the Nativity concert.
"She was supposed to be an angel in the play," said Revered
Robert Weiss. "Now she's an angel up in heaven."
Town fire officials set up 26 Christmas trees, decorated with
stuffed animals, near the school as a memorial to the victims
- many of whom were children who may have been hoping for
such toys as their own holiday presents. Churches held
"Those innocent little boys and girls were taken from their
families far too soon," said Connecticut Governor Dannel
Malloy. "Let us all hope and pray those children are now in a
place where that innocence will always be protected."
One of the victims, Josephine Gay, had celebrated her seventh
birthday on Tuesday.
Rabbi Shaul Praver said he had spent time with Veronika
Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah, was among the victims.
"She said that she didn't know how she was going to go on,
and we encouraged her to focus on her other four children
that need her and not to try to plan out the rest of her
life, just take a deep breath right now," Praver said.
The adult victims, some of whom died defending the students,
ranged in age from 27 to 56. Carver, the medical examiner,
said all the bodies had examined had been shot with a rifle.
He said he and his staff had not yet examined the shooter or
Police earlier said they had assembled "some very good
evidence" on the killer's motives.
"Our investigators at the crime scene ... did produce some
very good evidence in this investigation that our
investigators will be able to use in, hopefully, painting the
complete picture as to how - and more importantly why - this
occurred," Connecticut State Police Lieutenant Paul Vance
Yale-New Haven Hospital opened a crisis-intervention center
in the wealthy suburb of 27,000 people about 130km from New
The killer's mother, Nancy Lanza, legally owned a Sig Sauer
and a Glock, both handguns commonly used by police, and a
military-style Bushmaster .223 M4 carbine, according to law
enforcement officials, who also said they believed Adam Lanza
used at least some of those weapons.
The death toll exceeded that of one of the most notorious
U.S. school shootings, the 1999 rampage at Columbine High
School in Littleton, Colorado, where two teenagers killed 13
students and staff before fatally shooting themselves.
Around the nation communities took small steps to mark the
At Virginia Tech, a Blacksburg, Virginia university where in
2007 a gunman killed 32 people in the deadliest school
shooting in U.S. history, an announcer extended sympathies to
the residents of Newtown before a basketball game.
"This campus ... shares a deep sense of grief," the announcer
said. "We share that pain and we open our hearts to that