Massacre of the Innocents: Chilling Details About the Gunman in the Schoolhouse

Newtown, Connecticut became the stage for the latest outbreak of American civic carnage, with the second worse toll in history

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Jessica Hill / AP

A woman waits to hear about her sister, a teacher, following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Barbara Sibley was being a good mom—but she did not know she would have to walk into hell to prove it. Her eight-year old had left something at home and so she drove over to the Sandy Hook School to deliver it. But something was odd about the compound when she got there at around 9:30. “It’s an elementary school,” she recalls to TIME. “There are usually kids outside or something. It was very quiet.”

She ran into another mom at the front entrance, where visitors had to be buzzed in. That’s when it became clear something was amiss: the window next to the door had been shattered. “There was glass everywhere,” she says. “And that’s when we heard gunfire.”

(Live Updates: Elementary School Shooting Leaves 27 Dead)

The school, in the well-to-do town of Newtown in Connecticut (median income $111,506), had become the stage for the latest manifestation of American civic terror: the sudden appearance of a heavily armed assailant bent on mass murder. The setting was perverse: Newtown reported only one violent crime in 2010 and was considered one of the more attractive places in the country to raise a family. By the end of the onslaught, as many as 20 families would be bereft of their children—and the nation, led by a mournful and teary President Obama, would once again be confronted with the issue of guns in a free society.

The instant Sibley heard the gunfire, she ran for cover, sprinting across the parking lot to where dumpsters stood, hiding there while the carnage took place. Within the school, the gunman was stalking the halls. Rebecca Cox related to TIME what her mother, Sarah Cox, the school nurse, saw: “She heard a loud popping sound, so she got under her desk in her nurse’s office. She did see the gunman’s feet. He walked into her office. She saw his legs and the bottom of his feet and just held her breath. He didn’t know she was there and then he turned around and walked out.” Sibley would later be told that students could hear what was going on over the PA system as one two-section class seemed to take the brunt of the invasion. “All of the kids heard everything going on,” she says. “They heard the gunshots. They heard the cries for help. The whole school heard it.”

When sirens blared in the background, Sibley knew help was on the way. Firetrucks from the station down the block pulled up and, when the authorities gave a signal to Sibley and the other moms hiding out with her, the women ran, keeping low, to a shielding fire truck as an officer covered them with his weapon. About 10 or 15 minutes later, authorities started to release students one class at a time. She saw her child and went down to the fire house to await instructions and head counts. And that was when the horror became apparent—not with visible carnage but by absence. “It was apparent,” says Sibley, “that there was one particular class of students that was not coming out of the building.” She says, “Those parents were just devastated and hysterical, and it was awful.” In the street outside the firehouse, which was bedecked with wreaths and Christmas trees, one woman collapsed into another woman’s arms, screaming “Oh my God. Why did they take my baby?”

(PHOTOS: Grief in Newtown: Photos from the Scene)

The killer gunned down 20 children—18 of whom perished in the school, two dying in the hospital; six adults were among the dead as well.  The massacre’s toll makes it the second-deadliest shooting in U.S. history, surpassed only by the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech University in which 33 people were killed. Officials said the assailant took his own life; the police reportedly did not fire a single shot. Adam Lanza, as the alleged gunman was identified in several press reports, was 20-years old, a year under the legal limit for gun ownership in Connecticut. The weapons he used, including the two 9 mm handguns reportedly found by his body, were allegedly registered to his mother Nancy. She was reported to be a teacher at Sandy Hook, and it may have been her class that was attacked. She too was listed among the dead—but it was not yet clear whether her body was found at the school or elsewhere.

The personal tale of the assailant is likely to take a familiar narrative arc. Already there is speculation of untreated mental illness or incapacity. In the age of Facebook and Twitter, his brother Ryan, 24, was apparently misidentified as the shooter until web denials came flooding through, not an hour after the wrong information emerged—and spread all over. Ryan lived in a second-floor apartment with three roommates in Hoboken, New Jersey.  He had been taken in for questioning in the early afternoon — but by Friday evening had been cleared of any involvement in the massacre. Well into the night, reporters remained positioned with a line of cameras across the street, aimed directly at the five-story brick building

The police officers of Newtown were dispatched to another crime scene, away from the school, and speculation immediately focused on a house on Yogananda Street in Newtown where Adam Lanza reportedly lived with his mother. There were reports her body was found there.

In a speech delivered six hours after the tragedy, the visibly shaken President of the United States wiped away several tears, saying “As a country, we’ve been through this too many times, we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” Later, a subdued demonstration by gun control advocates was held outside the White House. The day before the massacre, the National Rifle Association’s twitter feed had claimed that the organization’s Facebook page had notched a record 1.7 million “likes.”

MORE: Poniewozik: Don’t Interview Kids at Tragedies

-With reporting by Christina Crapanzano/Newtown and Samantha Grossman/Hoboken

393 comments
AlexJervis
AlexJervis

There is a published school bus route/timetable.

Get activity details for that day, from bus company! (are they in it too?)

What does it take to make a whole community go along with this stuff?

I'm giving 9/11 a rest for a while: It's 50 years since JFK.!

dan.plesse
dan.plesse

Sarah Cox said she knew the Adam and that the mother was a teacher at the school and said this on AIR! Both lies.

Sandy Hook investigation update #14: Who was the other mother with Barbara Sibley? http://youtu.be/igk6ehZVi18

What happen 911 call center recordings? Who has them and why aren't they public? 

livefortodayok
livefortodayok

There can be no thoughtful debate on gun control until we get the answers we need. There is grief, outrage, and pain which will not be sated with anything less than the truth about what happened at Sandy Hook. Many people find it hard to believe that a 20 year old kid, who was phobic about being around people, never spoke unless spoken to and who was very shy, would suddenly go Rambo, break glass and start shooting. The official story does not make sense...

akasome1else
akasome1else

I cannot believe how ignorant of the beginnings of this country the people are who are writing comments about this tragedy. First : the Fore Fathers and Founders of our country weren't just using single shot muskets , they were using the MOST technologically advanced weapons they could get their hands on. And EVERY person who could manage to have a GUN , had one. THEY were fighting not just to protect themselves personally, but also to win freedom from a tyrannical and unjust government ( King ) Second ; they had the foresight to know this could happen again at some point in the future. So, Even in the Pre-Amble to the Declaration of Independence there is a mandate as a DUTY to the COUNTRYto BE PREPARED for just such an occurrence. READ IT FOR YOURSELF. This was written even before the Constitution and ANY Amendments to it were EVER thought of. Third: They did make an Amendment ( The Second ) stating that a "well ordered MILITIA " was something indespensable in this country and that the PEOPLE'S right to have and to bear arms was NOT to be infringed upon. That's TWO separate definable groups , READ IT FOR YOURSELF. 

While the events that have occured in Newtown are the most heinous kind of a tragedy and should have never happened, they did. But, not at the hands of an NRA member or with an assault rifle. This person killed those children and adults with two pistols. It would have made very little  difference if they had been revolvers or had smaller clips, he was intent on killing them and did so, METHODICALLY. He probably killed the Teacher in the room with the children first. Then according to the reports I have read he killed each child with a point blank shot to the head. That could have been done with a gun capable of only a single shot at a time. It just would have taken longer. Would you have been calling for a Ban on knives and stricter regulations on them if he had done this with a knife ?? With very little training and the frame of mind he was in - he quite reasonably could have done this with something like ... say a Machete. Think about the genocide in Africa and how many people there have been killed with exactly that weapon.  OR perhaps it would have made you happier if he had done a suicide bombing on a bus and taken out all the children there with a car and a bomb. Or just ran up on a curb while they were lined up for a bus with a car ( automobiles kill roughly 2 , 0 0 0  children each year) . 

The point that the people who are AGAINST guns and the people who are FOR guns are missing is the FACT this happened at all. It isn't a GUN problem or a BOMB problem or a CAR problem it is a PEOPLE problem and until we get THAT fixed this will keep happening , as Malcomb X said " BY WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY" . You just don't seem to get it that the people who do these things don't CARE what they have to use to do the job , they are going to do it if only wiyha club. Will you call for legislation against sticks and baseball bats then??? 

Do what's right call for a thorough investigation into WHY this happened , the how doesn't matter if the why isn't identified and stopped because that is what really killed those people ---- not the guns. 

joestuffsda
joestuffsda

I'm afraid of guns, but I am more afraid of a nation that fears my right to self defense.

One solution is to import caning and repeal rules restricting teachers administrating the discipline parents fail to administer.

kamanayahoo
kamanayahoo

As the white american male population continues to diminish in america the sanctity of the 2nd Amendment becomes vulnerable because the white american male is the primary proponent of that cowardly and murderous amendment: no white american males, no 2nd Amendment.

Marky_D_Sodd
Marky_D_Sodd

Total Gun deaths in USA SINCE December 14/Sandy Hook = 321

Total Gun deaths in USA on Christmas Day alone = 129

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS GOING DOWN!!!!

joestuffsda
joestuffsda

The truth? Satan. End of discussion.

JoeM
JoeM

If Adam had used fertalizer and fuel what would your argument be then marky?  This sounds to me like he was bullied at Sandy Hook for being "different", and there is always a way to accomplish killing people for revenge.  If he had no guns he was inteligent enough to accomplish his goal by other means.  Sounds like your on a band wagon for popularity.  Try having some insight into what causes tragedy like this and come back and write something worth reading.

EricTarr
EricTarr

Guns dont kill people, you raise a gerneration of people without any moral standard to live by and they have no consequence for their actions. People kill people!--

Marky_D_Sodd
Marky_D_Sodd

The 2nd amendment "protection for gun owners" is absurd. It merely allows one to own "ARMS" which, in the time of the writing of the Constitution, applied only to single-load/single-shot muskets, and THEN ONLY for members of a well-ordered militia. Read Army.

By the murder-enabling NRA's logic, the "right to bear arms" would now include the right to bear ANY arms: grenades, bazookas, drones, nuclear warheads.

Guns don't kill people.

NRA-RepubliKKKan-GUN PSYCHOS kill people.

WHY are we listening to these lunatics.Oh, I know – lets ask 52 grieving mothers, fathers, husbands and wives in Connecticut.Maybe they have the answer.

Marky_D_Sodd
Marky_D_Sodd

Ah!!! Just in time for Christmas!!!!

Two more gun murders -- this time two firefighters.

No doubt the insane LaPierre will say the solution is to put armed guards in the firehouses.

The solution is to REPEAL THE 2ND AMENDMENT!!!

THE NRA MURDER-MACHINE IS GOING DOWN THIS TIME!!!


Marky_D_Sodd
Marky_D_Sodd


What sane person can imagine trying to turn the principals and teachers who care
for our children every day into an armed mob.

And
let’s be clear -- regardless of what the treasonous
NRA-Murder-byGun-Psychos want us to believe -- civilians bristling with
guns to prevent the “next Newtown” ARE an armed
mob even with "training" offered up by the deranged Mr. LaPierre. Any town officials
or school principals who take up the N.R.A. on that offer should be fired.

The
frantic and wild-eyed Mr. LaPierre said the Newtown killing spree
“might” have been averted if the killer had been confronted by an armed
security guard. It’s far more likely that there would have been a dead
armed security guard — just as there would have been even more carnage
if civilians had started firing weapons in the Aurora movie theater.

In the 62 mass-murder cases over 30 years examined recently by the
magazine Mother Jones, NOT A SINGLE ONE was stopped by an armed civilian. We have
known for many years that a sheriff’s deputy was at Columbine High
School in 1999 and fired at one of the two killers while 11 of their 13
victims were still alive.

He missed four times.

Madmen like Mr. LaPierre want us to believe that civilians can be
trained to use lethal force with cold precision in moments of fear and
crisis. Such belief requires a willful ignorance about the facts.

Police officers know that firing a weapon is a huge risk; that’s why they avoid
doing it. In August, New York City police officers opened fire on a
gunman outside the Empire State Building.

They killed him.

And wounded nine bystanders.

Mr. LaPierre said the news media call the semiautomatic weapon used in
Newtown a machine gun, claim that it’s a military weapon and that it
fires the most powerful ammunition available.

Yet another lie from the NRA Treason machine.

What is true is that there is a growing call in America for stricter gun
control, beginning with repeal of the anachronistic Second Amendment.

joestuffsda
joestuffsda

Regarding 'President Obama, would once again be confronted with the issue of guns in a free society', the issue is not about guns.

AlexJervis
AlexJervis

@dan.plesse Sally? Sarah Cox is definitely delusional; or is taking care of her pension!

Glorcho
Glorcho

@akasome1else Uh-huh.  Sooooooo, are YOU going to rise up against a tyrannical government and actually stand a chance against its firepower? 

DenisMacEoin
DenisMacEoin

@akasome1else Yes, the guns. In Europe, especially the UK, it's very hard top get a gun. And we don't have anything like your level of gun crime. Figure that out. If there were no guns, nobody could commit acts like this. Israel only allows guns for limited numbers of people, despite being under constant attack. Gun crime is very low. Control over guns is essential fpr any civilized society. It's time America grew up.

Perfectarc
Perfectarc

@akasome1else We still don't know why Columbine happened almost 14 years ago except that two unstable sociopaths were able to easily get their hands on weapons. Ask the parents of the kids killed at VT or Columbine believe that the 2nd amendment writers envisions 21st century weapons technology in the hands of a public that reads at the 8th grade level and watches Fox News?

Perfectarc
Perfectarc

@joestuffsda Fronkly I'm more afraid of religious tyranny in a country with an old fashioned "shoot'em up" mentality with high capacity modern weapons in the hands of crazy Fox News watching religious zealots. Fear religion and fear illiteracy in this country, and fear that someone that you love may disappear from your life because a Seung-Hui Cho or Jared Loughner was able to walk into a weapons dealer and easily purchase a high capacity weapon that forever changed the lives of the loved ones that are left behind. Why? because we live in a country with a juvenile fixation with killing machines. I'm not talking about sporting weapons, but technology that serves no other purpose than to destroy lives. The NRA has blood on its hands. And, the second amendment is an anachronism. We need to grow up and deal with reality or risk losing people we love the next time we go to a movie or shopping mall, or fear that when we put our children on a school bus that that may be the last time we see them alive. grow up American dummies.

Marky_D_Sodd
Marky_D_Sodd

@joestuffsda  

You do not have a "right" to carry guns for self defense.

 You have a "right" to bear arms ONLY as a member of a well-regulated militia.  That means membership in the Army.  And if memory serves, the Army now issues its own arms to its people.

classified74
classified74

@kamanayahoo Really? Where are you from? It has nothing to do with color, the only thing more murderous than America with a second amendment is one without. Think nazi Germany.

Perfectarc
Perfectarc

@kamanayahoo yeah, like the world needs more decedents like the ones coming from the father of Honey Boo Boo. What a world we live in when we long for more illiterate white trash with assault weapons.

Perfectarc
Perfectarc

@joestuffsda Religion.....is an evil, divisive, if not anachronistic enterprise. There will never be peace in the world until the day that these bronze age myths become extinct as all religions eventually do. Believe what you wish as long as you keep your filthy gutter religion out of public policy and my secular government.

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

@joestuffsda 

Indeed! Blame Human Evil upon a supernatural character whom doesnt exist... You just go on ahead with your Fairy Tales.

ogg999
ogg999

@JoeM Under this argument, we would never take any precautions of any order. If a person would find the way to do harm anyway, why do you bother? So, lets be honest. Do you close your car lock? house? Do you let your children walk in dangerous neighborhoods? To talk with strangers? Do you get nervous when someone has a gun in the bus?

classified74
classified74

@Marky_D_Sodd The constitution is less specific so it will be valid eternallly. I don't think these guys were stupid. Maybe you can move to somewhere else or is it you live somewhere else and wish you where American? My point being, you have well regulated militia with regulated military arms. Then the citizen who may choose to bear arms as is necessary to his need, 99% of people posses arms that protect them from those who would do them harm with small arms. If I live somewhere that is crawling with cartel badguys then I will arm myself approximately to my need. Any way you look at it, you and I have the right to choose, you need not defend yourself.

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

@Marky_D_Sodd 

You are still at it?

Even if you are right you ignore political reality.

Not a damned thing will change.

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

@Marky_D_Sodd 

It will Never happen... even if you were right the second amendment is here to stay regardless of your squeaking.

MartinDoe
MartinDoe

@Perfectarc @akasome1else it also happened during fienstiens first completley useless assault weapons ban what makes all these idiots think a second one will prevent anything

akasome1else
akasome1else

@Perfectarc @akasome1else 

You are completely right and probably more so than you realize. I do have to preface my statement with a question - What level by the standards you are using ( todays ) do you suppose the majority of the founders of this great country could read ??  But, that would be an entirely different discussion. Here's the FACTS. Globally the average IQ level is only a little over 100 points. America however is lower than that. 98 is the average IQ in this country. The system for IQ measurement was developed to define an individual's ability to learn, retain what they have learned and at what level they are able to make use of that knowledge. Given that the median is 98 and a Genius is considered to be about 160 or above then you have to know that there are far more people BELOW the 98 average than there are above it for 98 to BE that median.

So, a large part of our ( U.S. aka: American ) population doesn't have the mental capacity to learn much above the level you mentioned above. Where does that leave us ?? In addition to that, consider that a large part of the population is also what would be clinically termed as " mentally ill" ( this is a very BROAD term) and covers many forms of malaise. Then add to that another condition know as being "under the influence" ( another very broad term) whereby a full 40% of the population at any given moment is what would be legally looked upon as chemically impaired. This would include Alcohol, OTC drugs, Prescription drugs, Illegal drugs, exhaustion or stress and the WORST of them all anger / emotions out of control. So to summarize - when you walk down the street or through a mall or go to church or the town hall meeting or the city park or to school / college - 4 out of every 10 people you pass WILL have a low education / IQ. they WILL have some sort of "Mental illness", they WILL be "under the influence" of something that doesn't leave them QUITE in controll of themselves and WILL probably be in an emotional state that isn't really what you might term as "safe". 

THIS IS WHY Virginia Tech happened and Kent State ( though you might not remember that one ) and Colombine and Newtown and so many incidents that occur every day that it would defy the ability of ANY ONE to try to list them on a daily basis. Not just GUNS but Cars, boats ,jetskies, knives, clubs, crowbars, Aeroplanes and so many other things as a means to KILL some one else that it boggles the MIND.

This is what we as a Nation have created. We have let people Govern us because WE are too lazy to do the job ourselves. Look at the polls at election time. There are 300,000,000 people in this country, take children out of the equation and even looking at a very low estimate that leaves 150,000,000 people who could vote. 50 to 75 million typically are all that goes to the polls ?? We do this to ourselves, letting Corporations pay politicians to push their product out onto the market or put dangerous vehicles on the road ( 260,000 accidents anually, 32000 fatalities, 10,000+ caused by alcohol alone * there aren't figures to cover the other forms of intoxication* and out of those 2000+ are CHILDREN) or dangerous toys ,clothes, Homes, etc. 

Untill WE as a NATION ...... WE THE PEOPLE ..... find a way or the balls to fix this problem ( idiocy, lack of education, mental illness, RAGE, irresponsability, POOR PARENTING etc.) these occurrences are GOING to keep happening and probably with an increasing rate of occurrence till WE aren't a Nation any more, just a bunch of PEOPLE fighting with each other and trying JUST to SURVIVE.       

1949bbgirl
1949bbgirl

@Perfectarc @joestuffsda 

there is a much greater chance that the school bus will be involved in an accident and kill children than there is that they will be gunned down by some mentally-ill individual.  Guns are necessary to protect us from an over-reaching dictatorship government.  I personally don't want to live in a nanny-state with govmt dictating every aspect of my life.....can you say ObamaCare?  Read History.....every evil dictator has first confiscated all the guns from citizens.....leaving them powerless for defense against tyrannical government ( Natzi Germany vs. Jews )

authentic8
authentic8

@Marky_D_Sodd

Look up the meaning of the word "militia" - it is not the same thing as "army". A militia is made up of ordinary citizens. One envisioned purpose is self-defence against national armies controlled by a tyrant.

Are you a U.S. citizen and don't know this? I am not and I consider it common knowledge.

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

@Marky_D_Sodd 

Will admit that you do spank the bible crowd like they deserve... Even more than I hate those that ignore political reality I hate those that thump a useless Bronze Age document.

Perfectarc
Perfectarc

@1949bbgirl Except you need a license to use a school bus as a weapon. I can't tell you how may times I've heard these exact same words this week from gun fetishists like yourself as if they were cloned from the lips of Wayne Lapierre himself. When was the last time that you had a novel thought? Natzi? what the hell is a natzi? and good luck defending yourself against cruise missiles and helicopter gun ships if the US government ever decides to take your guns. dummy, What are you 10?

classified74
classified74

@authentic8 @Marky_D_Sodd thanks, I thought I was going to have to explain that exact thing.

Perfectarc
Perfectarc

@authentic8 @Marky_D_Sodd  

Meaning that that if we disagree with an official that was elected by the  People we can or should assassinate him/her? McCarthy was a tyrant, he died a natural death. Who gets to judge tyranny? Fox News? Rush Limbaugh? Sean Hannity? Alex Jones? There's never a crazy lone gunman around where they're really needed in this country, that's the problem.