Connecticut town prepares for first two funerals of school shooting victims
Funerals planned for 6-year-olds Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner; Newtown officials couldn't say whether Sandy Hook Elementary would ever reopen, as Monday's classes were canceled.
The U.S. town shattered by last week's school shooting prepared Monday for the first two funerals, while officials were still not sure whether the school itself would ever reopen.
The first funerals were planned for 6-year-olds Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner, who had his birthday two weeks ago. They will be buried a day after the small community of Newtown, already stripping itself of many Christmas decorations, came together for a vigil where President Barack Obama said he will use "whatever power" he has to prevent similar massacres.
Newtown officials couldn't say whether Sandy Hook Elementary would ever reopen. Monday's classes were canceled, and the district was making plans to send surviving students to a former school building in a neighboring town.
"We're just now getting ready to talk to our son about who was killed," said Robert Licata, the father of a student who escaped harm during the shooting. "He's not even there yet."
Newtown police Lt. George Sinko said he "would find it very difficult" for students to return to the same school. But, he added, "We want to keep these kids together. They need to support each other."
Investigators have offered no motive for the shooting, and the Connecticut community struggled to comprehend what drove 20-year-old Adam Lanza to shoot to death his mother at home in bed Friday morning, drive her car to the school and unleash gunfire on six adults and 20 children who were 6 and 7 years old.
All the victims at the school apparently were shot more than once, and some of them were shot at close range, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver has said. He said the ammunition was the type designed to break up inside a victim's body and inflict the maximum amount of damage.
Police said Lanza was carrying an arsenal of ammunition big enough to kill just about every student in the school if given enough time. He shot himself in the head just as he heard police drawing near, authorities said.
"We needed this," said the Rev. Matt Crebbin, senior minister of the Newtown Congregational Church. "We needed to be together to show that we are together and united."
On Monday, the task swung again to understanding how the shooting could have happened. Investigators have offered no motive, and police have found no letters or diaries that could explain. They believe Lanza attended Sandy Hook many years ago, but they couldn't say why he went there Friday. Authorities said Lanza had no criminal history, and it was not clear whether he had a job.
A spokesman for Western Connecticut State University said Lanza took college classes when he was only 16. Paul Steinmetz confirmed that Lanza dropped out of a German language class and withdrew from a computer science class but earned high grades in a computer class, American history and macroeconomics.
A former classmate there, Dot Stasny, said she and a classmate once invited Lanza out to a bar but he declined, saying he was only 17. "We attributed him being quiet to him being so much younger than the rest of us," said Stasny, 30. "I assumed he was this super smart kid who was just doing extra course work."
Stasny said she once laughed with him about how difficult the German class was."I just remember him as a nice, quiet kid," she said.
Divorce paperwork made public Monday shows that Lanza's mother had the authority to make all decisions regarding his upbringing. It makes no mention of any mental health issues regarding Lanza.
The paperwork says the marriage broke down "irretrievably." The divorce was finalized in September 2009, when Adam Lanza was 17.
Federal agents have concluded that Lanza visited an area shooting range, but they do not know whether he practiced shooting there. Agents determined Lanza's mother visited shooting ranges several times, but it's not clear whether she took her son or whether he fired a weapon there, said Ginger Colbrun, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Lanza is believed to have used a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle in the school attack, a civilian version of the military's M-16 and a model commonly seen at marksmanship competitions. Versions of the AR-15 were outlawed in the United States under the 1994 assault weapons ban. That law expired in 2004, and Congress, in a nod to the political power of the gun-rights lobby, did not renew it.
Gun rights activists have remained largely quiet, all but one declining to appear on the Sunday talk shows. In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, defended the sale of assault weapons and said that the principal at Sandy Hook, who authorities say died trying to overtake the shooter, should herself have been armed.