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Connecticut elementary school shooting

State police are responding Friday to reports of a shooting at a southwestern Connecticut elementary school.

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As president Obama arrived to meet with grieving families in Newtown, Connecticut Sunday– it brings new sadness to Scott Larimer at his home in Crystal Lake.

“The pain is universal.  I wish I could go there to give them a hug. But we can’t so we have to do it from afar,” Scott said.

His son, John, was one of 12 people killed in the Aurora, Colorado Theater shooting in July, and in many ways, knows the pain. The grief being felt 800 miles away.

“Our hearts go out to these folks. It’s only been 5 months and this has just ripped open an open wound. It’s just horrible,” he said.

In August, the families of the theater shooting victims banded together– they said that Giving First, the Denver-based charity collecting donations in their loved ones names, was not following through with payments to victims and their families.

The American people donate this money from their hearts– it should go to the victims it shouldn’t go to some blood bank,” Scott said.

This weekend, the Colorado shooting families went online with their own website.

“We’ve had to accelerate our timeline because we weren’t expecting it to need it so quickly but I’m confident that we will make it happen.”

They said victimsfirst.org will make sure what happened with them does not happen again.

“One of the things that our organization is going to do is make sure that we have a guaranteed funnel so that these victims, not any other organization- but the victims, get money, get help.”

The first link posted, is for the victims at Sandy Hook– a small start, Scott says, to helping the victims of tragedy not be victimized again.

For more information and to donate visit http://victimsfirst.org/

A police chief in Indiana says a man arrested for threatening to go on a school shooting spree, was just blowing off steam.

Von Meyer was arrested at his home in Cedar Lake Saturday, a day after he and his wife had an argument.

She told police, he threatened to kill her where she worked, at the Jane Ball Elementary School.

She said he also threatened to kill as many people as he could.

But Police Chief Jerry Smith now says he believes Meyer just made an empty threat in the heat of an argument.

Meyer is charged with intimidation, domestic battery and resisting law enforcement.

There was an outpouring of grief and an impassioned call to action Saturday night as Chicagoans gathered to mourn the victims of the Connecticut school shooting.

Standing in a cold drizzle while hot tears streamed down their faces, several dozen people gathered in Union Park for a candlelight vigil in memory of the lives shattered by gun violence– in Newtown, in Chicago and around the country.

Chicago resident Lydia Gonzalez said “That’s every parent’s worst nightmare. I can’t even start to imagine what they’re going through, but i feel their pain because we here in Chicago, we know this all too well. We lose our kids every day.”

Congressman Bobby Rush told the crowd he was saddened and ashamed.

“It seems that like the only bipartisan agreement that exists in dc, is the bipartisan agreement to let guns flow through America like running water.”

Outrage echoed by a series of speakers:

Reverend Jesse Jackson said “It’s NIU one day, it’s Aurora, it’s Columbine. When will we learn?

Father Michael Pfleger also spoke of the violence “We talk about the fiscal cliff. We are already over the violence cliff in America.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was at the vigil and said “It’s time for congress to have a vote of conscience .”

The only solution — they say– is tighter gun laws. And the only way to get them, turning grief into action. These mothers who lost children to gun violence agree.

They say pain is a daily reality. They feel connected to the parents of Newtown.

Pamela Hester-Jones, the mother of a gun violence victim said “My heart goes out to all of the parents. We know your pain. We feel your pain. We feel your loss and we love you.”

It was just days ago, an appeals court struck down Illinois’ ban on carrying concealed weapons. So far, the National Rifle Association has had no comment on calls for more gun restrictions, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.

The aunt of Adam Lanza, the accused gunman in the Connecticut school shooting said she was surprised to hear about what happened– just like everyone else was.

Marsha Lanza and her family live on a quiet street in Crystal Lake, Il.  She said when she heard on the news that shooter could be her nephew, Adam, she was stunned; “It shocked us all right to the core… it blows me away.”

Marsha said she has not seen Adam since he was 3-years-old, when his mother Nancy’s husband moved the family to Connecticut.  But, she did correspond with her sister-in-law via email and Facebook and said those conversations were always friendly chit chat and Nancy never indicated her son, Adam was violent. “And if he did, she wouldn’t tolerate it,” Marsha said.

But Marsha Lanza did tell us that Adam, while very intelligent, did cause some headaches for his mother– enough to where she took him out of school.

Marsha said Adam loved computers, but would not speculate on whether he had any deep seeded problems.

As for the guns that Nancy owned, Marsha said those were only for protection.

She could not be sure if Adam was bullied and did not know why the Sandy Hook School was targeted, only to say that was where Adam went to school years before.

Reporting by Andrea Darlas

Stories of incredible heroism continue to emerge from Sandy Hook Elementary School Saturday night.

Signs are popping up with slogans like hug a teacher and where some residents have been taking their Christmas decorations down, saying they feel guilty doing anything to celebrate this holiday season.

Local officials held a series of briefings Saturday, from them we learned the victims of the Connecticut school massacre ranged in age from 6 to 56. There were 18 female and eight male victims– 20 children; six adults. The children were all ages six or seven.

The suspect’s father, Peter Lanza released a statement Saturday expressing condolences to the families of victims. “Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy. No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can,” said the statement, which was obtained by CNN affiliate WFSB

Police say the scene remains very much active and that it is an ongoing investigation– there are a lot of questions they are still working to answer.

They are also asking for privacy for the survivors and for the families of the victims who are as follows, according to the state police:

Charlotte, 6; Daniel, 7; Rachel Davino, 29; Olivia, 6; Josephine, 7; Ana, 6; Dylan, 6; Dawn Hocksprung, 47; Madeleine, 6; Catherine, 6; Chase, 7; Jesse, 6; James, 6; Grace, 7; Anne Marie Murphy, 52; Emilie Parker, 6; Jack, 6; Noah, 6; Caroline, 6; Jessica, 6; Avielle, 6; Lauren Russeau, 30; Mary Sherlach, 56; Victoria Soto, 27; Benjamin, 6; Allison, 6.

Dressed in black fatigues and a military vest, a heavily armed man walked into a Connecticut elementary school Friday and opened fire, shattering the quiet of this southern New England town and leaving the nation reeling at the number of young lives lost.

Within minutes, 26 people were dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School — 20 of them children. Among the six adults killed were Dawn Hochsprung, the school’s beloved principal, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach.

The shooter, identified by three law enforcement officials as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, also was killed, apparently by his own hand. Separately, his mother’s body was found at a Newtown residence.

“Stuff like this does not happen in Newtown,” a tight-knit community of about 27,000 just outside Danbury, said Renee Burn, a local teacher at another school in town. In the past 10 years, only one homicide had previously been reported.

With the death toll at 26, the Newtown shooting is the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, behind only the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that left 32 people dead.

“Evil visited this community today,” Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy said of Friday’s massacre.

Young students described being ushered into bathrooms and closets by teachers as the first shots rang out.

Third-grader Alexis Wasik said police and teachers barged into her classroom and told students to hide in the corner.

“Everybody was crying,” she said. “And I just heard the police officers yelling.”

One parent who was in the school at the time of the shooting said she heard a “pop, pop, pop,” sound around 9:30 a.m. In the room with her were Hochsprung, the vice principal and Sherlach. All three left the room and went into the hall to see what was happening. The parent ducked under the table and called 911.

“I cowered,” she told CNN’s Meredith Artley. The shooter “must have shot a hundred rounds.”

Responding police officers helped evacuate the children, telling them to hold hands and keep their eyes closed to the carnage as they exited the building.

As reports of the shooting surfaced, frantic parents descended on a nearby firehouse where the children had been taken.

“Why? Why?” one woman wailed as she walked up a wooded roadway leading from the school.

Police declined to speculate on a motive Friday evening, citing the ongoing investigation. Lanza had no known criminal record, a law enforcement official said.

Alex Israel, a former classmate of Lanza’s, described him as “quiet” and “reserved.”

“You could definitely tell he was a genius,” Israel told CNN, adding she hadn’t talked with him since middle school. “He was really quiet, he kept to himself.”

Three weapons were recovered from the school: a semi-automatic .223 Bushmaster found in a car in the school parking lot, and a Glock and a Sig Sauer found with Lanza’s body, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said. The weapons were legally purchased by Lanza’s mother, the official said.

The official said Lanza died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police said that the medical examiner will determine the cause of death for the gunman, though he noted that police never discharged their weapons.

In addition to the killings at Sandy Hook, another adult was found dead at a second location in Newtown, Vance said. A law enforcement source with detailed knowledge of the investigation identified that person as Lanza’s mother, Nancy. She was a teacher at Sandy Hook, sources said.

Meanwhile, authorities in Hoboken, New Jersey, were questioning Ryan Lanza, the suspect’s older brother, law enforcement sources said, though they did not label him a suspect. Lanza’s father, who lives in Connecticut, was similarly questioned, one of the law enforcement officials said.

Earlier, investigators had identified Ryan Lanza as the shooter. It was not clear what caused the confusion among investigators.

The fact that so many of those killed were young children — Sandy Hook serves students in kindergarten through fourth grade — touched a nerve across the world Friday, from U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders expressing grief to regular folks reacting with horror on social media as the news unfolded. The overwhelming sentiment: Hug your kids closely.

Obama, a father of two girls, wiped away tears while delivering a statement about the shooting, saying, “Our hearts are broken today.”

“The majority of those who died today were children. Beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old,” he said.

The bodies of the young victims remained where they fell Friday night, as authorities worked to positively identify them.

Flags were ordered to fly at half-staff nationwide in tribute to the victims, and candlelight vigils were planned across the country as Americans came together to try to comprehend the tragedy.

“This is most definitely the worst thing we’ve experienced in town,” Newtown Police Lt. George Sinko said.

It is not yet known how the gunman entered the school.

Hochsprung, the slain principal, had recently installed a new security system to ensure student safety.

Under the new system, every visitor was required to ring a doorbell at the front entrance after the doors locked at 9:30 a.m. and report to the main office to sign in.

Police began receiving reports of shots fired around 9:40 a.m. Friday.

In 1999, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, two students shot 13 people to death before killing themselves.

 

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Child Psychologist Dr. Thomas Owley talks about the mass shooting.

A video of the most unforgettable images from the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

The school shooting in Connecticut brings to mind another school shooting in the Chicago area.

Tom Shaer was the first reporter to arrive on the scene of the Dann shootings, a shooting that happened at a Winnetka in 1988.

On May 20, 1988, Laurie Dann shot six children at an elementary school, killing Nicholas Corwin, 8. She took hostages in a home, where she shot a college student before killing herself.

Shaer talked with WGN’s Mark Suppelsa about the similarities and differences between the Dann shootings and the shooting in Connecticut.

For parents waiting to pick their children up at Bell Elementary School on Chicago’s North Side, what happened in Newtown, Connecticut was the somber topic of discussion.

“I just thought, what if it happened in our neighborhood? It could happen anywhere,” said Bell parent, Mark Sullivan.

“As a parent, I just embrace my child. You have to be grateful for every moment you have,” said Laura Poslesny, a parent of a Bell student.

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