Connecticut Shooter Suspect Identified, Tearful President Addresses Nation
UPDATED: The wrong family member initially was identified as the shooter. Twenty-seven people are dead, including the gunman and his mother, whose body was discovered at the shooter's home.
Law enforcement has identified the shooter in Friday's mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Multiple media reports identify the gunman as Adam Lanza, 20, whose mother was a teacher's aide at the school. The suspect and his mother, Nancy Lanza -- who was wrongly reported to be a teacher at the school and whose body was found at the gunman's home -- and school principal Dawn Hochsprung are among the 27 dead, according to news reports. Police said 20 of the victims were children and that the suspect died from "a self-inflicted gunshot wound." One teacher was wounded.
“Evil visited this community today,” Connecticut Gov Dan Malloy said.
Multiple outlets initially had reported Adam Lanza's elder brother, Ryan Lanza, 24, to be the shooting suspect. Also, an adult male was discovered dead at the shooting suspect's home, according to police, bringing the total number of victims to 28. That victim has not been identified, but CNN reports that “a senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation says a brother of the alleged shooter was found dead in a home searched in Hoboken, N.J.”
Ryan Lanza has told authorities that his younger brother is autistic, or has Asperger syndrome and a “personality disorder.” Neighbors described the younger man to ABC as “odd” and displaying characteristics associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
As the story was developing Friday, a Facebook page belonging to a Ryan Lanza of Newtown, Conn., was being widely circulated online as the presumed profile of the suspected killer. But screenshots soon surfaced of the same Facebook user saying he had been misidentified, leading several news outlets to retract their story -- including CNN, Slate, Buzzfeed and FoxNews.com, all of whom published the accompanying profile photo.
The AP reports that the confusion could be the result of a law enforcement official transposing the brothers' first names in a police report. Ryan Lanza also told a reporter that he suspected Adam might have been carrying Ryan's identification at the time of the shooting.
A girlfriend of one of the brothers and a male friend are reported missing, according to police.
Danbury, Conn., a few miles west of the town of Newtown, has the lowest overall crime rate in the U.S., according to Sperling’s Best Places.
In an address Friday afternoon, a tearful President Barack Obama urged the country to put politics aside. "We're going to have to get together and take meaningful action," he said, adding later, “As a country we have been through this too many times."
He then mentioned the recent shootings at an Oregon shopping mall and at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.
"I will do everything in my power as president to help," Obama said.
He ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House and elsewhere until Dec. 18 at sunset.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an outspoken proponent of gun control, has issued this statement on the tragedy: “With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe. … This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response.”
Here is the full transcript of Obama's remarks:
THE PRESIDENT: This afternoon, I spoke with Governor Malloy and FBI Director Mueller. I offered Governor Malloy my condolences on behalf of the nation, and made it clear he will have every single resource that he needs to investigate this heinous crime, care for the victims, counsel their families.
We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news I react not as a president, but as anybody else would -- as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.
The majority of those who died today were children -- beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers -- men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.
So our hearts are broken today -- for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost. Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early, and there are no words that will ease their pain.
As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago -- these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.
This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we’ll tell them that we love them, and we’ll remind each other how deeply we love one another. But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight. And they need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans. And I will do everything in my power as President to help.
Because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need -- to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories but also in ours. May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.