Tonight on AC360: 26 victims in Connecticut school shooting
Flags at the base of the Washington Monument are lowered to half staff in memory of the victims killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. (photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
December 14th, 2012
06:20 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: 26 victims in Connecticut school shooting

Much about the devastating crime at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut is still unknown. Police say the scene is secure, while the investigation into the senseless act continues.

20 children were killed after shots rang out in their classroom, a place where they’re supposed to feel safe. Six adults, including the school’s principal and psychologist were also gunned down for a reason we may never comprehend.

It was early in the school day when the gunman shattered lives and destroyed the sanctity of the school. As the day went on, each police news conference brought more horror. The statements from students describing the sounds of gunshots and hurried evacuations gave a glimpse of the trauma they endured.

What we know is that the suspect is in his twenties and he is dead. At least three weapons were found on the scene: A Bushmaster .223, a Sig-Sauer and a Glock. The mother of the suspected shooter was also killed today.

As the police continue their work, the families affected struggle to cope with the loss. “Evil visited this community today,” said Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy. “We’re all in this together.”

President Obama gave perhaps his most emotional statement as the leader of the country. Wiping tears from his eyes, he told the nation, “We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. Each time I learn the news I react not as a president but as anybody else would as a parent.” He offered support to the Governor of Connecticut and expressed the extraordinary pain of the tragedy. "The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10. They had their entire lives ahead of them, birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own."

Tonight we’ll report the latest information and honor the victims. Anderson will be live at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Connecticut School Shooting
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  1. Nancy

    We need to look at several issues, including the availability of guns and especially assault weapons and the process that is already in place but not being enforced as far as who can get a gun through legal channels.. And we also need to look at the treatment of people with mental illness which is diminishing due to funding issues. But I can't understand why we can't make our school buildings themselves more secure. I think entrances should be designed in a way where people have to walk through a corridor or a hallway, before actually entering the school, that is equipped with cameras and metal detectors. A reaction from the metal detector could automatically alert security and prevent the final entrance door from opening at all. In this day and time, with the technology we have, there has to be a better solution. We accept security at airports and at stores we go in an out of for shoplifters. Why not our most precious children?

    December 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  2. Christopher

    I Pray for all of the victums, family, friends and anyone involved in this situation. This is an absolute devastating event that will impact every home in the United States and around the world. Taking the lives of 20 children who had yet to discover and fulfill their dreams, ambitions and futures is unimaginable. The parents of these children are experiencing their worst nightmare as it would be for any parent. These families need the help of the nation. Something needs to be done reguarding school security and gun violence around America. As a military member of this great nation I can say that us men and women have never been more shocked and saddened from what has occured in Newtown. We pray for all the victums, families, friends, and all of those involved. May the victums rest in peace.

    December 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  3. Jimmy

    Senseless act of course, but not once have I heard that gun control is an issue in America. I live in Canada and I am thankful these types of incidents are rare. Two words : Gun Control. How is it that the suspects mom can have such guns in her own home. Thoughts and prayers to the all families.

    December 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  4. John C.

    Good job balancing our rights to information with the rights and ravaged feelings of those directly affected, as the hideous particulars of this massacre become known. Thank you for keeping as graceful a perspective on this horrific story as can be hoped for, Anderson. It's beyond tragic and traumatizing - for us all. We're grateful to you and the whole CNN team for your compassionate and responsible reporting.

    December 14, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  5. Carol

    What can we do in this country to protect our children? That should be a priority, not all the senseless bickering of our legislators. Let us make sure we remember this tradgedy and make sure if never happens again. I pray for all the families and the community that they find some peace and solice at such a horrific time. May they all rest in peace.

    December 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  6. Keith Michael

    Why hasn't anyone asked what Nancy Lanza was doing with a Glock and a Sig Sauer, and a .223-caliber rifle registered in her name? Those weapons were the very ones that killed her and twenty of her students. This goes beyond ironic. This is the very essence of the insanity of what is wrong with this country.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Carol

      I too am astounded that a mother with a son who had mental health issues would be in possession of such weapons. What was she thinking? I hope that question will be answered in the future. What is our country coming too!! Our children have become targets for these insane individuals and we seem to only stand around and watch it without doing anything to stop it. How much of this do we have to watch before something is done to end the violence.

      December 14, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  7. john brainard

    Anderson, I am watching your current coverage of this horrendous event, and agree that (as you keep saying) the perpetrator's name should not be repeated over and over. So don't; please- that is not the part of the story that is important- what IS important is the how and why this obviously disturbed person had access to weapons! And indeed THIS is surely the most important aspect that we, as Americans, really MUST begin- FINALLY- to address; WHY, in heavens name, is it so easy for any and all to acquire weapons in the US?! Is THIS not the real question? PLEASE- give THIS some attention; it is I think a great shame on America, that we (thanks to the NRA and a prevalent gun culture in general) actually continue to ENABLE these various unstable people to perpetrate the unthinkable, in large part BECAUSE we maintain such ridiculously lax gun laws! How many must die before we wake up and turn against the gun lobby that works to allow such free access to weapons of the sort that have no place in a civilized society?

    December 14, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Keith Michael

      The guns were registered in the mother's name. She and twenty of her students are now dead. Connecticut has very tough gun laws. This is a tragic case of personal responsibility.

      December 14, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  8. Kimberly

    When will the loss of life be enough? 20 little kids who could not protect themselves were killed by high powered guns today. It does not matter if the guns were bought legally; these beautiful little children were killed because we do far too little to prevent these murders. I love the Constitution, but when it was written our founders could not and did not envision the depravity of mankind today. Nearly every month, we watch and mourn horrific murders because of the lack of gun control in this country. It is time to stop the banter about the 2nd Amendment and start the reformation of gun control. More guns would not have helped these poor children. It is so deeply sad and ironic that the mother of this depraved and sick individual bought three guns that ultimately cost so many innocents lives. Please explain how she needed 3 guns? Why did she keep them if she had a mentally ill child? We must change what we are doing in this country. Apparently all the shootings this year have not been enough for citizens to be outraged. I am so deeply saddened for these losses, innocent children and elementary school workers, it is unspeakable. But what is even sadder and more heartbreaking, after a few days the shock will wear off and no reform will come.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Keith Michael

      I couldn't agree more. Why the insanity? Why the lack of sensitivity from a schoolteacher and mother?

      December 14, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  9. Jordan Angel

    Anderson, I want to start off by saying thank you and your relentless values with your reporting. I was a student at Lynn University when you were covering the earthquake in Haiti when we lost 6 members of our Lynn family. I appreciated your coverage then, and especially now as a teacher. Hearing about the shooting has been horrifying and I'm relieved to know you have put thie families and the victims ahead of the heinous acts of none. We will hear his name enough and you are right he doesn't deserve such a spotlight. So thank you, and thank you for handing such tragedies with such professionalism.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  10. Phil

    I appreciate the fact that you are focusing on the victoms rather that the shooter, but, I really want the NRA to own up and make a comment rather than hiding bihind their guns.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  11. Nicky Beltz

    It is inconceivable that in the 21st Century in this highly sophisticated, technologically advanced society we are experiencing the agony of a neighboring community where parents learn of the death of their innocent and defenceless children in a public school at the hands of a crazed gunman. How is it possible that someone with a gun can get access to what we consider a sacred area? We have precautions preventing sexual predators, we immunize our kids, we monitor the school lunch menu, but there are no metal detectors to protect our children or our beloved educators? Real action needs to be taken to prevent this from happening again and again and again. We can dissect this type of event for decades to come, but what can we do to prevent this from happening? God bless our neighboiring families in Newtown.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  12. Lee

    I myself am an elementary teacher. My children grew up coming to school with me to help out when needed. The staff knew them well. Could this be how the gunman got into the school? His mother worked there and they probably knew him and therefore, when he buzzed to get in, they recognized him and opened the door.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  13. tony vu

    the gun debate is moot. americans love guns. we romanticize and fetishize them as tools and symbols of our strength and freedom, of our manifest destiny and the indomitable american spirit that built a nation.

    no number of dead children will change that because we won't change. when president obama and the rest of us hug our children a little tighter it's with the thought that thank god it's not my kid.

    the parents of colorado, wisconsin, oregon and connecticut have our thoughts and prayers, but never our guns.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  14. Evan

    Please Please please lets all remember the victims and their families. We need to have police at every school in our country to protect our children. Even courthouses have security and metal detectors to protest lawyers, judges and criminals alike. Why don't we protect those that are so precious to us as they are our future.

    God Bless our children and their families

    December 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  15. susan from Canada

    What a tragic event today in Newtown. My heart goes out to the parents and families that lost loved ones.
    Thank you Anderson for showing more respect for the children and teachers than the gunman!!!!

    December 14, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  16. Dennis H

    about the security for schools... the "buzz to enter" system is really a joke. Pretty much everyone can get in. we need to come up with a better and more secure system for entry to schools My heart goes out to the families ....

    December 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  17. Vicki Gleason

    I'm shocked that law enforcement isn't expecting to release the children's bodies until Sunday. Yes, it's a crime scene, but it's obviously a mass murder and the killer has been identified. Can't they photograph where the children fell and recreate the crime scene on paper? As a parent, I think my anguish would be heightened even more if my child's body were kept from me. It's insensitive and senseless. I can't imagine how it will help anything to keep the bodies at the school. Please let the parents at least have the comfort of having their children back.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  18. Judi Asselta

    Anderson, I agree that the shooter is nothing. I was in tears over this. How can anyone take the lives of innocent little children? God bless those brave teachers who saved so many.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  19. Sheila B

    If this does not make ALL Americans physically sick nothing else will..... America is the victim of democracy run amuck. If you cannot or will not protect your littlest souls why are you the "beacon of hope" to the world. Your wanton pursuit of freedom, in gun ownership, in money matters shows how ordinary you all are, just like to rest of the world. You have no moral authority to preach anything to anybody.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  20. Amy

    Thank you Anderson Cooper for not helping this psychopaths name live on and focusing instead on the victims!! So very refreshing, I am now definitely a 360 fan for life!! Thank you again! I would love if his face was never given "15minutes of fame" he acted out as a coward let him remain faceless and unknown!!

    December 14, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  21. matt

    Anderson, with all due respect, knowing the facts about the shooter the how and why are important. We must look at all angles of this to fully understand.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  22. Rob Curschman

    Those of us who are a nation that believes peace is better than violence need to come together to help give strength to the parents and family of Newtown who are living the worst moments of their lives because of some other individual. This is only a comment on the ability to recognize and choose right from wrong in a moral society. My first idea is to tie a pink and a blue ribbon around a tree as a show of unified love for these children lost. I welcome your ideas, please share this.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:07 pm |