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Connecticut school gunman shot mother multiple times, autopsy finds

December 16, 2012|By Tina Susman and Matt Pearce
  • People shield their candles from the wind and light rain during a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the Newton, Conn. shooting victims at Green Lake Park in Seattle.
People shield their candles from the wind and light rain during a candlelight… (Lindsey Wasson / Associated…)

NEWTOWN, Conn. -- School shooter Adam Lanza killed his mother with "multiple" shots to her head and killed himself with a single shot to his head, according to a coroner’s report released Sunday.

After killing his mother in the home they shared, Lanza, 20, drove her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he opened fire in two classrooms Friday morning, killing 20 children and six adults. He then turned the gun on himself.

The autopsy reports were released by Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver II, who said earlier that all the children had been shot multiple times.

Officials have not identified the make of Lanza's weapon, which Carver has described only as a “long gun.”

As the autopsy reports were being released Sunday, a threatening phone call to a local church prompted a mid-service evacuation that jarred a day of mourning as residents throughout this community grappled with the aftermath of the elementary school massacre.

FULL COVERAGE: Connecticut school shooting

A church spokesman said police gave an all-clear soon after the evacuation at St. Rose of Lima Church. A SWAT team had surrounded the rectory across the parking lot from the main church building and hundreds of parishioners were forced to leave services that had been packed all morning.

"This is a very difficult time for all the families. We have seen incredible dignity in the faces of these people," church spokesman Brian Wallace said. The church was locked following the all-clear to "restore calm," Wallace said.

"I don't think anyone can be surprised about anything after what has happened," he said.

Earlier police said in a morning briefing that they may have to interview the youngest survivors of the school shooting as they try to determine the motive of the gunman.

State Police Lt. Paul Vance and Newtown Police Lt. George Sinko offered few new details of the crime or the investigation into the so-far inexplicable rampage at the elementary school.

Any motive -- speculation about Lanza's video game habits, and his relationship with the school and with his mother -- remained unconfirmed. Two days later, police still aren't saying why he did what he did.

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“For us to be able to give you the summary of the motive, we have to complete the investigation; we have to have the whole picture to say how and why this occurred," said Vance of the Connecticut State Police, the lead agency on the investigation. "There are weeks’ worth of work left for us to complete this."

Lanza's mother legally purchased the guns later recovered at the scene of the massacre, law enforcement officials have said. Officials have previously said those weapons included a military-style Bushmaster .223 rifle, a Glock 9-millimeter pistol and a Sig Sauer semiautomatic pistol, officials said.

Vance said police would be tracing the weapons' origins "back to their origin" at their manufacturers.

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy told CNN on Sunday morning: "What we know is he shot his way into the building, so he penetrated the building -- he wasn't buzzed in. He penetrated the building by literally shooting an entrance into the building."

Sinko, meanwhile, said it was "too early" to say if children ever would return to the two classrooms where the killings occurred. "It's too early to say, but I would find it very difficult for them to do that," he said.

Arrangements were under way for some children to report to another elementary school in Newtown when classes resume.

"We want to keep these kids together," said Sinko, explaining that they hoped children who were moved to new schools could stay with their classmates. "We want to move forward very slowly and respectfully," he added, by way of explaining why it was expected to take so long to interview surviving children.

At the news conference, Vance also said the FBI had been asked to help investigate false postings on social media sites that included "some things in somewhat of a threatening manner," and some that purported to be messages from the shooter himself or others involved in the incident.

"There are quotes by people who are posing as the shooter.... Suffice it to say, the information has been deemed as threatening," he said when asked to elaborate.


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