Hundreds Pack Connecticut Church For Vigil

A law enforcement official now says the suspect in the Connecticut school shootings is 20-year-old Adam Lanza.  Early reports identified the shooter as 24-year-old Ryan Lanza.

Girls embraces outside St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, which was filled to capacity, during a healing service held in for victims of an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. A gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — A vigil Friday night for the victims of a school massacre in western Connecticut brought out hundreds of community members, including some parents who were struggling with mixed emotions after their own children survived the massacre.

With the church filled to capacity, hundreds spilled outside, some of them holding hands in circles and saying prayers. Others lit prayer candles and sang "Silent Night."

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was among the speakers at the service inside the St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic church.

"Many of us today and in the coming days will rely on what we have been taught and what we believe, that there is faith for a reason," Malloy said.

The residents were gathered to mourn those killed Friday, when a man killed his mother at their home and then opened fire inside the elementary school where she taught, massacring 26 people, including 20 children, as youngsters cowered in fear to the sound of gunshots reverberating through the building and screams echoing over the intercom.

The 20-year-old killer, carrying at least two handguns, committed suicide at the school, bringing the death toll to 28, authorities said.

At the vigil, the priest said the altar holds 26 candles, all of which were lit in memory of the victims. Lyrics of the last hymn of the ceremony rang out: "I will raise him up on eagle's wings."

The parish priest, Robert Weiss, said he spent much of Friday with victims of the families but he could not give them any answers about what happened.

After receiving word of the shooting, Tracy Hoekenga said at the vigil that she was paralyzed with fear for her two boys, fourth-grader C.J. and second grader Matthew.

"I couldn't breathe. It's indescribable. For a half an hour, 45 minutes, I had no idea if my kids were OK," she said.

She said she was wrestling with many emotions as she attended the vigil.

Her son Matthew said a teacher ordered students to their cubbies and a police officer came and told them to line up and close their eyes.

"They said there could be bad staff. So we closed our eyes and we went out. When we opened our eyes, we saw a lot of broken glass and blood on the ground."

David Connors, the father of three triplets at the school, said at a vigil that his children were taken into a closet during the lockdown.

"My son said he did hear some gunshots, as many as 10," he said. "The questions are starting to come out. 'Are we safe? Is the bad guy gone?'"


Previous Story

A law enforcement official says the suspect in the Connecticut school shootings is 20-year-old Adam Lanza, the son of a teacher at the school where the shootings occurred. A second law enforcement official says the boy's mother, Nancy Lanza, is presumed dead.

The first official says Adam Lanza's older brother, 24-year-old Ryan, of Hoboken, N.J., is being questioned by police. An earlier report from a law enforcement official mistakenly transposed the brothers' first names.

Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the developing criminal investigation.

The first official said Adam Lanza is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.


Previous Story

Police say 27 people were killed in the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, including the gunman, and one person died at another scene.

The dead at the school include 18 children.

The gunman opened fire Friday morning inside a school where his mother worked. He blasted his way through the building as young students cowered helplessly in classrooms while their teachers and classmates were shot.

The gunman killed himself. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says someone who lived with him also died.

Young students crying and looking frightened were escorted by adults through a parking lot in a line after the shots rang out in Newtown, 60 miles northeast of New York City.

The attack comes less than two weeks before Christmas and appears to be the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.


Previous Story

A tearful President Barack Obama says the country's leaders must "take meaningful action" regardless of politics in response to the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

The president teared up, at times using an index finger to wipe at the corner of his eyes, as he addressed the nation from the White House. He also paused repeatedly as he struggled to keep his composure while speaking of the children -- ages 5 to 10 -- who had died and the life milestones they now would miss.

He said, quote, "Our hearts are broken."

Shortly before speaking, Obama ordered that U.S. flags be flown at half-staff on public grounds through Tuesday.


Previous Story

An official with knowledge of a shooting at a Connecticut elementary school says 27 people are dead, including 18 children.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way.

State police Lt. Paul Vance says only that staff and students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown are among the victims. He says the shooter was dead in the school.

NBC News reports that the gunman's mother worked at the school and was one of those killed. The network has identified the gunman as 24-year-old Ryan Lanza.

Vance says Newtown police called state police around 9:40 a.m. A SWAT team was among the throngs of police to respond to the school, about 60 miles northeast of New York City.

Photos from the scene showed young students -- some crying, others looking visibly frightened -- being escorted by adults through a parking lot in a line, hands on each other's shoulders.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Previous Story

An official with knowledge of the situation says a gunman at the center of a school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has been killed.

The official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way says the man apparently had two guns.

A dispatcher at the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps says a teacher has been shot in the foot and taken to Danbury Hospital, but it's unclear whether there are other injuries.

Ambulance surrounded Sandy Hook Elementary School in western Connecticut and parents were running toward the building as a helicopter flew overhead.

The superintendent's office says the district has locked down schools.

State police say Newtown police called them at about 9:40 a.m. about the shooting reports.


Previous Story

Connecticut State Police say they are assisting local police in Newtown in response to reports of a shooting at an elementary school.

A dispatcher at the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps says a teacher has been shot in the foot and taken to Danbury Hospital, but it's unclear if that's the only injury.

The superintendent's office says the district has locked down schools.

The shooting was reported at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, in western Connecticut. State police say Newtown police called them at about 9:40 a.m. about the reports.

The Newtown Bee newspaper posted a photo of a group of young students -- some crying, others looking visibly frightened -- being escorted by adults through a parking lot in a line, hands on each other's shoulders.

State police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance says they have a number of personnel on the scene to assist.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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