Newtown Shooting: Medical Examiner Provides Details In 'Devastating' Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy (LATEST UPDATES)

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NEWTOWN, Conn. -- Investigators tried to figure out what led a bright but awkward 20-year-old to slaughter 26 children and adults at a Connecticut elementary school, while townspeople took down some of their Christmas decorations and struggled Saturday with how to go on.

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver said all the victims at the school were shot with a semiautomatic rifle, at least some of them up close, and all of them were apparently shot more than once. All six adults killed Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School were women. Of the 20 children, eight were boys and 12 were girls. All the children were 6 or 7 years old.

Asked how many bullets were fired, Carver told a news conference Saturday, "I'm lucky if I can tell you how many I found.''

The tragedy brought forth soul-searching and grief around the globe. Many immediately thought of Dunblane -- a 1996 school shooting in that small Scottish town which killed 16 small children and prompted a campaign that ultimately led to tighter gun controls in Britain.

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President Barack Obama planned to attend an interfaith an interfaith memorial service Sunday in Newtown. Hours after the shooting, a tearful Obama said he grieved first as a father. In those remarks and later in his Saturday radio address, Obama called for "meaningful action'' to prevent such shootings, but did not say what should be done.

Obama's visit to Newtown would be the fourth time he has travelled to a city after a mass shooting.

The tragedy added the picturesque New England town of handsome colonial homes, red-brick sidewalks and 27,000 people to the grim map of U.S. towns where mass shootings in recent years have periodically reignited the American debate over gun control but led to little change.

Signs around the town, about 60 miles (95 kilometres) northeast of New York City, read, "Hug a teacher today,'' ''Please pray for Newtown" and ''Love will get us through."

"People in my neighbourhood are feeling guilty about it being Christmas. They are taking down decorations,'' said Jeannie Pasacreta, a psychologist who was advising parents struggling with how to talk to their children.

Amid the sorrow, stories of heroism emerged, including an account of the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal and psychologist who lost their lives rushing at the gunman, Adam Lanza, in an attempt to stop the rampage. Investigators also informed relatives of a teacher who was killed while shielding her first-graders from danger.

Police shed no light on what triggered the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, though state police Lt. Paul Vance said investigators had found ``very good evidence ... that our investigators will be able to use in painting the complete picture, the how and, more importantly, the why.'' He would not elaborate.

However, another law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said investigators have found no note or manifesto from Lanza of the sort they have come to expect after murderous rampages such as the Virginia Tech bloodbath in 2007 that left 33 people dead.

The mystery deepened as Newtown education officials said they had found no link between Lanza's mother and the school, contrary to news reports that said she was a teacher there. Investigators said they believe Adam Lanza attended Sandy Hook Elementary many years ago, but they had no explanation for why he went there on Friday.

Lanza shot to death his mother, Nancy Lanza, 52, at the home they shared, then drove to the school in her car with at least three of her guns, forced his way inside and opened fire in two classrooms, authorities said. Within minutes, he killed 20 children, six adults and himself.

The school's entrance was monitored by close-circuit camera and opened only when employees in the main office buzzed somebody in. But Lanza broke through the window and opened the door.

A custodian ran through the halls, warning of a gunman, and someone switched on the intercom, perhaps saving many lives by letting them hear the chaos in the school office, a teacher said. Teachers locked their doors and ordered children to huddle in a corner or hide in closets as shots echoed through the building.

Just one person, a woman who worked at the school, was shot and survived -- an unusually small number in a mass shooting -- and Vance said her comments would be "instrumental.''

Nancy Lanza's relatives said in a statement that they share the grief of the Newtown community and Americans everywhere.

A sheriff in New Hampshire, where Nancy Lanza once lived, read the statement Saturday evening, saying the family is trying to understand "the tremendous loss.'' Rockingham County Sheriff Michael Downing said Lanza's brother James Champion, a retired police captain in Kingston, New Hampshire, and other relatives express their "heartfelt sorrow'' and "the whole family is traumatized by this event.''

Nancy Lanza's family described her as kind, loving and considerate. She was once a stockbroker for John Hancock in Boston. Court records show she and her ex-husband, Peter Lanza, filed for divorce in 2008.

The family was struggling to make sense of what happened and ``trying to find whatever answers we can,'' Peter Lanza, said in a statement late Saturday that also expressed sympathy for the victims' families.

The list of the dead was released Saturday, but in the tightly knit town, nearly everyone already seemed to know someone who died.

Among the dead: popular Principal Dawn Hochsprung, 47, who town officials say tried to stop the gunman and paid with her life; school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, who also rushed the shooter and probably would have helped survivors grapple with the tragedy; and a 6-year-old girl who had just moved to Newtown from Canada.

Victoria Soto, 27-year-old teacher, was being called a hero after reportedly hiding some students in a bathroom or closet, ensuring they were safe, a cousin, Jim Wiltsie, told ABC News.

"She was trying to shield, get her children into a closet and protect them from harm,'' Wiltsie told ABC. "And by doing that, put herself between the gunman and the children.''

Authorities said Lanza had no criminal history, and it was not clear whether he had a job. Lanza was believed to have suffered from a personality disorder, said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another law enforcement official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger's, a mild form of autism often characterized by social awkwardness. People with the disorder are often highly intelligent. While they can become frustrated more easily, there is no evidence of a link between Asperger's and violent behaviour, experts say.

The law enforcement officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the unfolding investigation.

Acquaintances describe the former honour student as smart but odd and remote.

Olivia DeVivo, now a student at the University of Connecticut, recalled that Lanza always came to Newtown High School toting a briefcase and wearing his shirt buttoned all the way up. "He was very different and very shy and didn't make an effort to interact with anybody'' in his 10th-grade English class, she said.

"You had yourself a very scared young boy who was very nervous around people,'' said Richard Novia, who was the school district's head of security and adviser to the high school's Tech Club, of which Lanza was a member. He added: "He was a loner.''

Novia said Lanza had extreme difficulties relating to fellow students and teachers, as well as a strange condition in which he seemed not to feel physical or emotional pain in the same way as his classmates: "If that boy would've burned himself, he would not have known it or felt it physically.''

Lanza would also go through crises that would require his mother to come to school. Such episodes might have involved "total withdrawal from whatever he was supposed to be doing, be it a class, be it sitting and read a book,'' Novia said.

When people approached Lanza in the hallways, he would press himself against the wall or walk in a different direction, clutching his black case "like an 8-year-old who refuses to give up his teddy bear,'' said Novia, who now lives in Tennessee.

Even so, Novia said his main concern about Lanza was that he might become a target for teasing or abuse by other students, not that he might become a threat.

Sandy Hook Elementary will be closed next week and officials are deciding what to do about the town's other schools.

"Next week is going to be horrible,'' said the town's legislative council chairman, Jeff Capeci, thinking about the string of funerals the town will face.

Asked whether the town would recover, Maryann Jacob, a clerk in the school library who took cover in a storage room with 18 fourth-graders during the shooting rampage, said: "We have to. We have a lot of children left.''

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Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Jim Fitzgerald, Bridget Murphy, Pat Eaton-Robb and Michael Melia in Newtown; Adam Geller in Southbury, Connecticut; and Stephen Singer in Hartford, Connecticut.

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