Shooter's Family Connections Begin To Emerge

Audie Cornish talks to Robert Smith about the latest on the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

We begin this hour with the tragedy in Connecticut. This morning, around nine o'clock, a young man walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and began shooting. Federal law enforcement officials now tell NPR the gunman was 20-year-old Adam Lanza of Newtown.

SIEGEL: In the end, 20 children were confirmed dead as well as six adults killed in the school, the gunman himself and another adult victim at the Lanza family home. We also know that the gunman's mother, who worked at the school, is among the dead. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: The gunman's mother did not work at the school and was found dead in her home.]

Here is State Police Lieutenant J. Paul Vance.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS BRIEFING)

LIEUTENANT J. PAUL VANCE: I just want to make it very clear that there were 18 children who were pronounced dead at the scene. There were two children who were transported to area hospital, were pronounced dead at the hospital. There were six adults that were pronounced dead at the scene. And, obviously, the shooter was also pronounced dead at the scene. I don't have much more detail about that secondary scene. But there is a related scene that we discovered as we were continuing the criminal investigation and specifically investigating the shooter.

CORNISH: President Obama spoke about the shooting this afternoon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news, I react not as a president, but as anybody else would, as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there is not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do. The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of five and 10 years old.

CORNISH: There has been a good deal of confused reporting over the course of the day, including a misidentification of the shooter early on. Adam Lanza's older brother, Ryan Lanza, was questioned by police today but is not believed to have been involved in the shooting.

We turn now to NPR's Robert Smith. He has been outside the Lanza family home on the outskirts of Newtown, Connecticut. And, Robert, what can you tell us about what's been going on at the house today?

ROBERT SMITH, BYLINE: Well, it is a crime scene here, as you already reported. Police say that there is one body there, a body that was taken away. People here told me, I wasn't here yet, but had been taken from the house. But still, they have blocked off a major section of this neighborhood.

And I have to tell you, it's somewhat surprising when you get here because it's almost rural. You know, there are all these winding roads, through hills and extremely large houses. Some four, five bedrooms, some much, much, much larger than that. The kind of houses where, you know, they clearly have people come in to do the holiday decorations because there's lights all the way to the top of the trees.

But it's clearly an affluent neighborhood. We're just now sort of trying to figure out where this family, the Lanza family, fit into the neighborhood and what people thought about them.

CORNISH: Have you been able to speak to any neighbors at all about the incident? What have you heard?

SMITH: Well, I have talked to a number of neighbors and it's very hard to know, they say, to know anything about anyone else. There are no sidewalks, there are no stores in the neighborhood, there are no community centers. It is one of these places where it's, you know, a little bit of a walk to get to your neighbors. There's a lot of trees and everything.

I talked to one neighbor here who had worked at the school. He didn't know Nancy well. But he said that the neighborhood really was changing or becoming much more affluent. And he was saying that there was a new security at the school. He showed me his pass that he had to show working at the school and that he had to be buzzed in. And so, he was still in shock really what had happened there.

CORNISH: And you mentioned the name there of Nancy Lanza, believed to be the mother of Adam Lanza we heard earlier. NPR's...

SMITH: Yeah. We're trying to figure out this family. There was the mother, Nancy Lanza, we have reported that. The father, Peter Lanza, who lives in Stamford; they are divorced. The older brother Ryan, who's cooperating with police, and the shooter who we now know is Adam Lanza, the younger brother. And we're just trying to figure out right now more about that family.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Robert Smith. Robert, thank you.

SMITH: You're welcome.

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