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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

26 Killed In School Shooting; Source: Lanza's Mom Found Dead At Home; A Nation Mourns

Aired December 14, 2012 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Breaking news. I'm Ashleigh Banfield in for Erin Burnett tonight.

In Newtown, Connecticut, it is the scene of one of the worst school shootings in the history of the United States and we can report to you that police have now identified a school shooter as Adam Lanza, a shooter who killed 26 people today at the Sandy Hook Elementary School here in this small Connecticut town.

Twenty children were killed, 18 of them were pronounced dead right at the scene of the school. Two of them were rushed to the hospital hoping that they could save them. Those children died at the hospital. Six adults at the school were also shot dead and they died at the scene as well.

Nancy Lanza, a teacher at the school and a mother of the suspected shooter, was also killed. But she was found dead in her son's home in Newtown. Adam Lanza, the 24-year-old brother, Ryan Lanza, was taken into police custody.

Ryan Lanza was taken into police custody for questioning in Hoboken, New Jersey, earlier today. Officials had not labeled him a suspect, but he was taken away in handcuffs. His brother Adam died at the scene.

The police are not saying at this point if he killed himself. Police did say that they did not discharge any of their weapons and yet he was dead on the scene. Law enforcement sources also telling CNN that the shooter in this horrible tragedy was dressed in, quote, "black battle fatigues and a military vest."

The principal of this school, Dawn Hucksprung, was also among the dead. A school psychologist also killed in this shooting rampage. In a meeting at the time the shooting began. The children were led away from the school this morning shortly after the first 911 calls came in that began at 9:40 this morning just after school had begun.

Those shootings occurred in one section of the school concentrated in one area, specifically two rooms in an area of the school. As the nation tuned in, only to see detail after details get worse, it is a nation in mourning and tonight there is a vigil outside the White House.

The president, president Obama ordering flags to fly at half staff nationwide in a tribute to the victims of this terrible tragedy, an extraordinarily emotional president addressed the nation this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I know there's 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 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them, birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: The president, incredibly emotional as he addressed reporters in the nation as these horrible details became more and more evident moment by moment today.

My colleague, Susan Candiotti, has been working not only the scene of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, but also police sources throughout this community as well. You've been able to find out some remarkable information throughout the day.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really has been stunning throughout the day to try to figure out the motive of the shooting and we still don't know the answer to that very important question right now.

As you indicated, Ashleigh, what we are finding out is a little bit about the shooter but not much. Only that he was dressed in black military fatigues and a military-type vest. We also know that they discovered at least three weapons on the scene. Two handguns --

BANFIELD: In fact, a Glock, a Sig Sauer, and a Bushmaster 223.

CANDIOTTI: Exactly. Now the Bushmaster 223 is a semi-automatic weapon. We have pictures of that to show you the type of weapon. It is not the weapon in question, of course. We have yet to find out, for example, where those weapons came from. Were they legally purchased, were they stolen, to whom where they registered, where did they come from?

BANFIELD: We've had some breaking news in the last while, that in fact those weapons, at least I believe two of them, were registered to the mother, Nancy Lanza. It's a very distressing detail.

CANDIOTTI: That is indeed.

BANFIELD: At least two of those weapons, in fact, let me change that, at least three of the weapons registered to Nancy Lanza.

CANDIOTTI: And of course, her body was found at a residence right here in the area.

BANFIELD: It's an odd development. Susan and I have been trying to piece together when the police said that the shooter killed someone he lived with, and then we've now found out that Nancy Lanza was found in her son's home, putting two and two together, you'd want to come to a conclusion, but they are not releasing that.

CANDIOTTI: And it may very well be the mother's home. They say the suspect's residence. Well, it may be -- very well may be where both of them lived together. So that again makes one wonder, what prompted all of this? Was there something going on? It's hard not to speculate.

BANFIELD: The confusion is, well, Susan, throughout the day, the name Ryan Lanza was being reported fast and furiously. This is the brother who was taken away in handcuffs from the apartment in Hoboken for questioning. Not under arrest, not a suspect. But for a long time, people were suspecting that Ryan Lanza might be the shooter. Not the shooter, according to police.

CANDIOTTI: That's right. There was conflicting information even among law enforcement authorities for hours now. Finally, it seems to be sorted out, that in fact it is Ryan as you said who was led away for questioning, not considered a suspect. But they wanted to find out what they could about his brother.

BANFIELD: Do we know anything about this family? Police have said that apparently Adam Lanza did not have a criminal record, and yet this is one of the most horrific crimes perpetrated in the most horrific way. Do we know anything else about the family dynamics?

CANDIOTTI: We have been learning more about -- a bit about the brother, Adam, the shooter, in this case. But we are still trying to get that confirmed with additional sources before we put that out officially. But we do know, for example, that the father of both of them was divorced from Nancy Lanza, the schoolteacher, and the boys' mother.

BANFIELD: And did not live at this residence?

CANDIOTTI: The father did not live at this residence, but in fact he has remarried and does live in this area of Newtown, Connecticut, as well. So they've been talking to him, obviously, as well, to try to find out what information, if any, he may have, what clues, if any, he might possibly have that led to this.

BANFIELD: It's remarkable the amount of information that keeps pours in. I'm going to let you work your sources. I know you've been on the phone hour after hour. Susan Candiotti doing a terrific job at trying to piece together how this is all been happening.

I want to take us now to Jason Carroll, my colleague, who is not far away from me here in Newtown, Connecticut, out in front of Saint Rose of Lima Church where a vigil is taking place. Can you set the scene for me there, Jason, please?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you can imagine, it's a very somber scene and so many people here tried to come out for this vigil. You can see behind me there wasn't enough room for everyone inside the church.

Hundreds of people packed inside the church and hundreds more outside the church. Right now, we're told Governor Malloy is speaking inside the church. A little earlier today, Ashleigh, I had the opportunity to speak with the deacon here.

Like so many people in this community, he knew some of the victims, some of the children that lost their lives. Those were the same children that he used to stare at and see in the church every Sunday. Some of these children had their first communion here.

He knew the school faculty. Some of the faculty came to this church as well. During a very emotional moment, I just want you to listen to part of the conversation that we had a little earlier about how all of this has affected him and the community.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEACON RICK SCINTO: It's a very tight-knit community. It's a very large parish, a dynamic parish. Everybody knows everybody here. And I don't know for sure but I'm sure that quite a few of the kids that we lost today are in this parish.

I heard one of the victims, I'm not sure about it, but I heard that one of the victims, recently she -- I think it was birthday money. She got her birthday money, birthday gifts.

She donated it to the parish to give for the Hurricane Sandy victims, 6 years old so that's -- that makes it very, very personal, very intimate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: Personal for him and also painful, not just for the deacon here, but for the hundreds of people that are packed inside the church. And again, outside the church as you can see here, listening, trying to find some sort of comfort.

The deacon also told me, Ashleigh, throughout the day he was counseling some 100 people who had come through the church doors looking for answers, just asking questions. The big question as you can imagine, most people that were coming in and asking was, why?

Why all of this happened. And he said, because of the newness of it all, he said it was impossible to find a way to say something profound. But he did refer to one quote. He said, when everyone comes in and they ask me why, I put my arm around them and I say, asking why, some questions are only meant for God to answer.

Little comfort but that's all they can do at this point. Trying to provide comfort as everyone here tries to get through this very painful moment -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Just an extraordinary time, and I can't imagine how they're going to find that comfort, so soon after this has happened. Jason Carroll reporting for us live just across town from where I am right now.

This has become a multi-state investigation. Police were searching a home in Hoboken, New Jersey, earlier on today and ultimately took 24-year-old Ryan Lanza in for questioning. He was handcuffed as they led him away.

He is believed to be the brother of the suspected shooter. They are not saying at this time he's a suspect in anything, just that he's wanted for questioning.

My colleague, John Berman, is live in Hoboken. Tell me exactly what the police think any connection might and be why he would have been handcuffed -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": You know, Ashleigh, at this point we simply don't know. As you say this has been the site of an enormous amount of activity, an enormous amount of questions, now an enormous amount of confusion, really.

You talked about that picture we saw earlier of Ryan Lanza being led from this apartment in handcuffs. He was taking in for questioning. Also CNN has learned, taken in for questioning two roommates apparently of Ryan Lanza, brought in for questioning, not believed to be connected in any way to the suspect Adam Lanza.

The Hoboken police were here, Jersey City police were here, there was a bomb squad here, FBI were here, the FBI actually removed some materials from this apartment, including perhaps a computer. But at this point, it is now clear that the shooter was not Ryan Lanza, it was his brother Adam Lanza.

Ryan we believe is still in custody. But I can tell you, this Ashleigh. While the scene was buzzing earlier with all those law enforcement officials it is much, much quieter now. This street had been closed down, now it's wide open.

Just a few token police standing outside the apartment building where Ryan Lanza lives. It's a five-story apartment building, two and three bedroom apartments. Hoboken, it's a hip city right now, a lot of people, young families here, young people live here, often work in New York City.

Ryan Lanza, 24, we don't know a whole lot about him. We believe he's is custody but not, not apparently the shooter as had been reported for a long time today -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: It will be devastating for that family undoubtedly. John Berman live in Hoboken for us. Obviously, when this started to transpire, the alarm bells went off throughout the district here. The entire school district went into lockdown.

The reaction was swift and the actions of teachers throughout this district were serious. Renee Burn is one of these teachers, she's a kindergarten teachers' aide at one of Newtown's elder elementary school, Holly Elementary School, and she knew some of the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary as well.

Her school as I said was in lockdown a couple of hours actually following the shooting. Renee, thank you for coming in and talking to us tonight. I know you're with your husband, Kevin, as well.

Could you just take me inside your school and tell me how this day unfolded for you and when you ultimately found out why you were in lockdown?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It started out as a normal day. We had our holiday party scheduled for our kindergarten class, which was scheduled to start about 10:15. And about 9:45, we heard the announcement that we were in lockdown.

BANFIELD: Did you think this would be a drill?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I knew it wasn't a drill because we had about 60 parents scheduled to come into the school for our celebration. And I knew there was something going on, but never, never thought it was anything like this. The last time we went into a lockdown was because there was something to do with a bank holdup in town and just as a matter of course they shut down the schools.

BANFIELD: When this happened, what did you do right away?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We kept all the kids calm and quiet and we closed our doors and we were able to move about within the school. But no one was to go in or out.

BANFIELD: Were you getting any text messages or e-mails from family or friends?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It started almost immediately. People wanted to know what was happen is. We had no information. We couldn't go on the internet, we couldn't take phone calls.

BANFIELD: You weren't allowed to take phone calls at this time?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were taking our cell phone calls, but no regular phone calls were coming in and out of the school. I knew something was up when my son called me from New York and wanted to know what was going on. At that point, we had no information.

BANFIELD: This is a small community and you knew some of the teachers or you certainly do know some of the teachers at Sandy Hook.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of our teachers. It's such a small community, we know all the teachers. One of our teachers actually had a daughter in kindergarten at Sandy Hook School so we were frantic.

BANFIELD: Is that child accounted for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's OK. Thank God. She's OK but we didn't know that for quite a while.

BANFIELD: For how long was she unaware and couldn't leave the school?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He couldn't leave the school and he couldn't call the school and we had no information. It was a good two hours into it.

BANFIELD: The principal of Sandy Hook, Dawn Hocksfrom, did you know her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't know her personally. She was new to our school this year, but I understand she has five children in the school system.

BANFIELD: She has five children? Did you know any of the other teachers or have you been told of any other identities? Are you waiting like everyone else?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't know what the identity of the victims were, only the one teacher.

BANFIELD: And since -- as I understand it, about 27,000 people live in this community? You have to have known people who have been directly affected. Have you been able to ascertain which parents have not been reunited with their children yet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We -- no, not yet. It's all unknown to us right now. Like I said, the only one we do know for certain is that our teacher, our fourth grade teacher, knows that his daughter is safe today.

BANFIELD: And just if you could, Kevin, just assess for me how is this town reacting so early after this incident? How are you processing this? What kind of information are you getting from your officials and what are your neighbors saying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's just a state of shock. It really is a -- the tragedy, I mean, it really is as intense as one could imagine it to be that it seems like a royal change today.

BANFIELD: Your governor, Dan Malloy, said today that he was a mayor in Stanford, Connecticut on 9/11. He says he never thought this kind of evil would be visited upon him in his office in this state again. Thank you very much. I am so sorry for the losses that you're going to be feeling for so long.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something like this does not happen in Newtown. It's such a small town and a close town. Just -- I can't get my head wrapped around this.

BANFIELD: Renee and Kevin Burn, thank you, I appreciate your time. Thank you, God bless. We have a lot more ahead as we continue to get our coverage in, as details continue to come in as well. You're going to hear from a teacher inside the school who is right now being called a hero for saving a student. It's all coming up in a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we'll tell them that we love them. And we'll remind each other how deeply we love one another. But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight and they need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans and I will do everything in my power as president to help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: The scene tonight at the Washington Monument in our nation's capital as people gather to remember those people who are so sadly slaughtered here in Connecticut today, children, 20 children in an elementary school, six of the teachers in the elementary school.

A nation in mourning, Connecticut legislators among those at that candlelight vigil at the Washington Monument. One of the people who without question it bears to note is Kaitlin Roig. She's a first grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Tonight, she is being called a hero because she saved some of the students when the gunfire began to erupt. Earlier, she spoke with ABC's "World News Tonight."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAITLIN ROIG, FIRST GRADE TEACHER AT SANDY HOOK: I put one of my students on top of the toilet. I just knew we had to get in there. I was telling them, it's going to be OK. You're going to be all right. I had pulled a bookshelf before I closed the door in front of it so it was completely -- we were completely barricaded in, I turned the lights off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you tell them to be quiet?

ROIG: Yes, I told them to be quiet. I told them we had to be absolutely quiet. Because I was so afraid if he did come in, he would hear us, maybe he would start shooting the door. I said we have to be absolutely quiet. I said, there are bad guys out there now. We have to wait for the good guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: The emotion is so palpable. With every story that begins to emerge from what happened, one of the stories that emerged was that the teachers told the children as this calamity was unfolding not to worry, that those sounds they were hearing was just a wild animal that had gotten into the school.

And they were closing the doors to make sure that animal couldn't get into their classrooms so a lot of those children were shielded. Another story of a child telling a local reporter as they were being led out of the school, they were asked to avert their eyes as they walked past one of the areas.

This is a very small community. It is without question the story you hear over and over in these shootings, a place that has 27,000 people. It's just not the kind of place you would expect a horror like this to visit. It's about 80 miles northeast of New York City.

The school is in a wooded residential area. It is peaceful. It is beautiful. It is safe in this community. The schools are excellent and over the past decade, there has been only one murder in one decade.

Police lieutenant said this is the most tragic thing we've ever encountered. OUTFRONT tonight is David Owens. He is a reporter with "The Hartford Courant." He has been covering these details as they've unfolded.

Maybe just get me up to speed on some of the latest information that you've been able to glean as we've been all trying to piece together this horrible puzzle.

DAVID OWENS, REPORTER, "THE HARTFORD COURANT": The latest is police are identifying a young man as the shooter and there are victims elsewhere other than the school here. And police are trying to figure out what the heck happened.

The medical examiner is setting up a temporary morgue near the school where they're going to work to identify the victims. Make notifications, have them identified by the families, and begin the long process.

BANFIELD: The manpower that it is going to require to process this forensic scene, to do positive identification matches with each of these bodies, I can't imagine that a town this small could have done this. They have had so many communities come in to help.

OWENS: The Connecticut State police very typically join in investigations like this, awful, large-scale incidents. The medical examiner has brought staff down here. Everything is on-site and they're working here as expeditiously as possible to begin to help these families get the information they need to come forward.

BANFIELD: Sometimes when these stories break, living in a large community like Hartford, certainly New York, Stanford, any of these surrounding communities, you hear the report of shots fired or some kind of violence being perpetrated and it might not be such a surprise. Then you hear about this town, Newtown, Connecticut. What was your first reaction in your newsroom?

OWENS: I wasn't in the newsroom. I got a call from a friend who said, there's a report of shots fired at a school in Newtown and I started heading here, contacted my boss. He said, get down there.

BANFIELD: Were you familiar with Newtown?

OWENS: Been here before, it's a very nice community, a safe community just as you described, a very nice place to live.

BANFIELD: Again, just to hear the statistic, one murder in ten years, this had to be astounding. OWENS: Yes.

BANFIELD: Did you have any idea the magnitude of what's going to unfold?

OWENS: I didn't. As information began to come out, it became clear that it was going to be awful. It's awful beyond comprehension.

BANFIELD: The ATF is here, the FBI is here, the Connecticut State Police, obviously the local police as well. Do you have any idea about additional manpower that may be headed this way?

OWENS: There are all kinds of federal agencies. I believe the marshals are here. The U.S. Attorney's Office is providing support. It's primarily going to be a state police case with high-trained major crime squads that will do the forensic investigation in the school and the detectives, working with the Newtown detectives, figuring out what happened here and why.

BANFIELD: Of course, there is this secondary crime scene, the residents.

OWENS: Yes.

BANFIELD: Where the mother was discovered in the residence of her son. We're not clear as to whether the mother and the son, the Lanza, the mother, Adam Lanza, whether they lived together. Do you know anything else about this family, the Lanza family?

OWENS: I don't. My understanding is she was a teacher, but I don't have a lot of details. My colleagues back in Hartford are working on that kind of information.

BANFIELD: And then there was this -- a divorce, a father who lived in a different part of the community but certainly in this area. Is there any knowledge about his whereabouts and whether he was able to help in this investigation?

OWENS: He lived in a community near Newtown in Fairfield County.

BANFIELD: So far, no information on whether police have been able to interview him, talk to him?

OWENS: Police have talked to everybody in the family from what I understand.

BANFIELD: And then just, if you would, David, maybe just take me to the scene of the firehouse where as this emergency was unfolding, the teachers who had the wherewithal to get those children out, evacuate the ones they could, they ran. They physically ran the distance between the school and the firehouse for shelter, right?

OWENS: The police were at the school very quickly. They went right in and the teachers as you described had locked the doors. The police started escorting the kids out. They said, hold hands and close your eyes and the kids -- BANFIELD: The police told the children, hold hands and close your eyes. This squares with what one of the children had told the local reporter, they had been asked to avert their eyes as they went past this area.

OWENS: They opened their eyes when they got outside, they were hustled over to the firehouse where they were enveloped and taken care of and parents began to arrive, panicked parents. As traumatic and as panicky as this may have been, it was remarkably calm as parents arrived.

BANFIELD: Amazing.

OWENS: To check, to pick up their children.

BANFIELD: Stand by if you will, I just want to make a note we're getting some video being fed in to us live right now. Just across town, there are two vigils that have been taking place. Dan Malloy, the governor, has been speaking at one of them. Let's listen.

GOVERNOR DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: In the coming days as many of us prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, understand that that too will bring sorrow as we think about these instances that have happened so close to those days. That too will pass and be overcome.

And all of our prayers and the prayers and hopes of the public officials who have assembled here today and in the presence of your great selectors, I bring and extend the condolences of the entirety of this state to you, the members of this community.

May God bless you. May God bless our children who are with us today and those who were taken away and may God bless the adults who lost their lives today. Thank you.

BANFIELD: David Owens is a reporter for "The Hartford Courant." He's still with me. I want to ask you about the Governor, Dan Malloy, has been here to update us on some of the information, as well as the lieutenant with the state police who has been very helpful.

There's something that was said earlier that stood out to me. That is, when all of those parents congregated at the fire station, many of them were reunited with children.

As the children were found and brought over, but there was one point where the governor actually said to the parents, anyone who hasn't been reunited with your children, you will not be. This must have been one of the most difficult times.

OWENS: I can't imagine it for anybody. It's just a parent's nightmare. I have a 10-year-old daughter and I can't imagine what those people are going through.

BANFIELD: And I want to just head back into this vigil for a moment and listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- all of your emotion and you are sending a message to all of America. And believe me, the hearts and prayers of America are with you -- * SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: -- a message to all of America. And believe me, the hearts and prayers of America are with you tonight.

Thank you for being here. And thank you for bringing your children, so that they can see that there is good in people.

And thank you for reaffirming, especially at this season, for all of us, whatever our faith, whatever our beliefs on other occasions on other issues, that we are one people and we will be one people in times of crisis and testing and adversity.

I thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Richard Blumenthal, the U.S. Democrat from Connecticut, who has also been at the location where I am, giving regular updates today and standing in solidarity with the law enforcement officers.

And Governor Dan Malloy, who has also been giving regular updates to the media and has been meeting personally, as I said earlier, with these families, and particularly the most poignant moment that I've heard of today, and that was the governor of this state addressing these families and for the first time letting these families know anyone who has not been reunited with your children, at this point, there will be no more children reunited with families.

It had to be said this way, I can only imagine, because those positive identifications have not been made. This is a forensic -- this is an overwhelming forensic task that is going on as we speak in the schools -- in the school. If you can imagine for a moment the teams that are going into that school to identify every one of those 18 little bodies, 18 of those children died where they were in that school. Their bodies remain there.

Two additional children were raced to the hospital. They were hoping they could save them but they died in the hospital. Six of the adults were also killed on the scene. And every single one of these 20 people must be identified. That is a mammoth task and the governor was trying to do what he could to at least give whatever information he possibly could do these families.

Let's go back and take a look at some of these live scenes in the vigil that's just across town.

My colleague Jason Carroll is standing by outside of the vigil.

Jason, I'm having trouble hearing but if you could set the scene for me there and let me know who has attended, who showed up for tonight's vigil, where you are?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thousands tried to or showed up here at the church at St. Rose Lima Church. Five hundred -- at least 500 people packed inside. More outside, if you look behind me, there are several hundred people standing outside in the freezing cold.

Simply not enough room for everyone inside the church tonight, Ashleigh. And the reason for that is simply because this is a community -- you've heard it over and over again, this is a community that is a close community. A number of people here knew each other.

When the word started to spread that there was, in fact, going to be a vigil here tonight, everyone came out, everyone looking for comfort, everyone grieving here in this community. Even if you didn't personally lose someone, the feeling of loss is still there for so many people here.

We're hearing more tonight about the principal of this school as well, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47 years old. By all accounts loved the school she had worked at since June of 2010.

Here's what's interesting. She had recently installed a new security system at the school where visitors actually had to be the buzzed to be let in. This was a school -- she was known as a tough lady -- this was a school she cared deeply, deeply about.

And she had also maintained a very active Twitter account. In fact, just on December 12th, I saw one of the tweets she had written. It said, "Sandy Hook students, enjoy the rehearsal for our fourth grade winter concert." That's just one of the tweets she had just sent out on Wednesday.

And as I was saying a little earlier, so many people who came out here tonight, even if they didn't lose anyone personally, most likely they knew someone at the school. And, in fact, one of those who came out here tonight, a man that we spoke to out here, knew the principal. He talked about her.

I just want you to listen to what he had to say before he headed inside into the vigil.

(INAUDIBLE)

BANFIELD: Jason, I'm having trouble catching you. I think I've lost your audio.

But I want to just reset the scene for anyone joining us. Jason Carroll has been across town at a vigil that began at 7:00 tonight for those who were lost here at Newtown, Connecticut, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. It has a school that has students from kindergarten through fourth grade.

But it is a school that has lost 20 -- 20 of its students in just a matter of minutes. Eighteen of them dying where they were, two of them being rushed to the hospital and dying at the hospital. Six of the adults in the school also killed.

This has been an unbelievable day here in this sleepy Connecticut town. Police are now identifying the shooter as Adam Lanza. It took a long time for an identification because he also has a brother and his brother is in Hoboken named Ryan Lanza. He was taken away in handcuffs from his apartment in Hoboken for questioning but they are not saying he's a suspect at this time.

We do know that Nancy Lanza, the mother of these two young men, was killed today and that she was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Tom Foreman has been piecing together how this terrible crime unfolded from the moment the first few phone calls started coming in just after 9:30 in the morning -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ashleigh.

Really, when you think about it, this is about 10 hours ago almost to the minute that all of this was going on. Nine-thirty this morning, it was a normal start to the day out here. About 600 students in class here, about 50 faculty members.

We don't really have a complete read yet on the layout of the school or the timeline. But we've been trying to piece together all day long, just as investigators have them. We have some idea.

So, the day was getting under way, had been under way for about 30 minutes. There was a meeting happening up here involving the principal, the vice-principal, a school psychologist, and several other adults in this area.

Then, around 9:40, as best we can tell from witnesses, just 10 minutes later, it would appear that's when the gunman enters the building. How did he do it? Jason Carroll just mentioned the new security system. We're not sure how he got past that. Or if it had been locked up at that point.

We know police looked hard all day at a car parked here in the fire lane. It's still there, surrounded by tape, as best I can tell. The suggestion would be from this and from witnesses that in fact somehow the gunman did come right through the front door here into the school and almost immediately people throughout this building reported hearing gunfire -- 9:41, that's when the calls started coming in to 911.

The principal, the vice-principal, and the school psychologist who were in this meeting, according to the witnesses, went into the hall and went toward that gunfire to see what was happening. There was shouting, many shouts and shots and the vice-principal came back into the meeting room wounded but the other two did not. Authorities say all of the shooting happened really in a relatively short period of time and they say the gunman did not roam around but generally stayed in just two rooms and a hallway right up here. That's in fact where they ultimately found him.

Nine-forty-five, teachers were trying to protect students all throughout this school. Some students were near the gymnasium, were told to hide in some closets. Others students in other parts of the building say they were led outside to flee. It's not really clear if that happened with the teachers or later with them being helped out by some sort of law enforcement officials. But nonetheless, we know that there was a real effort throughout the school to get all of these kids into some sort of safety.

This picture by the way from "The Newtown Bee", and there were all these teachers trying to do something about it, they didn't really know what was going on.

It's also not clear at what point in this process the gunman died. Law officials say no officers fired a weapon, but they did find him dead in one of the rooms there. The suggestion being probably that he killed himself. But we'll get more details of that as we go on.

This is what we do know: when law enforcement agents arrived at the school, they immediately set up a perimeter around it. It was state and local police. And officers spread throughout the building. They say they entered immediately to secure rooms to find students and to make sure if a gunman was still active that they got him under control or killed them if they had to.

Then, they quickly started leading students away from the school, trying to get them out to safety. This was just a horrendous, horrendous event, as you know. Very difficult even for the officers who were involved because they had to, as you said, tell many of these children, avert your eyes, close your eyes, because they knew they were going to lead them right past many of the victims.

Ashleigh, we don't know if this is the exact timeline. I think we're going to have to adjust a lot over the weekend, but this is a pretty good idea of what happened. Again, 10 hours ago almost to the minute. Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And it all seemed to transpire so quickly, and as you said, in such a concentrated way, Tom. It's overwhelming to think of what was happening as these children were dying.

And we should also note that, as I say, those bodies are still where they lay in that school awaiting a positive ID, presumably the body of the shooter is still there as well awaiting for positive ID.

I'm joined by Congressman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. She is live in Washington, D.C., at the monument right now.

Congresswoman, this must have been overwhelming news. That is an understatement for you. How are you processing all of this information where you are?

REP. ROSA DELAURO (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, it's really -- it is overwhelming, Ashleigh. It's unthinkable, what happened today. It hits so close to home for all of us. And obviously our thoughts, our prayers, are with the families, with the siblings, with people who have suffered such a tragic loss.

I'm in Washington this weekend because -- to be with my grandchildren who live in Washington, D.C. They're 8, 5 1/2, 5, and 3. So this is -- really it hits so close to home. And these beautiful, young angels who had so much to live for, and it seems so senseless, and as I said, unthinkable that this could happen.

But it has. And now, the president said, you know, we come together, we wrap our arms around these families and we hold them dear and close to our hearts. And we remember really to love one another and to love our children and tell them that and hug them every day so that they know the depth of feeling.

And it is -- what an enormous tragedy, not just for Connecticut but for the entire country.

BANFIELD: It really has brought out an incredible personal sorrow in so many people who are connected to this, whether they'd be seasoned journalists who have spent 25 years on the job and seen it all, or a congresswoman like yourself. Many of us are parents. I myself am a parent of two small children. They go to school at an elementary school about 25 minutes away from here. So, this has been an overwhelming day for many people.

And I just want to ask if you've been in contact with the president or with any of the authorities who may be able to lend a hand to this community and avail themselves of all the assistance that this community's undoubtedly going to need in the days and months ahead.

DELAURO: We have been in touch with the governor's office. As the president said, that he has been in touch with Governor Malloy. And that he said that, you know, whatever services Connecticut needs will be available and the governor as well talked about, again, how we will embrace these families.

And I know the entire delegation feels that way. And Senator Dodd was here this evening as well with his daughter Grace. And so, there was a tremendous outpouring of support. And each in our own way will try to access the services that these families will need. Not just today or tomorrow or the next few weeks but ongoing.

BANFIELD: Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, I'm so sorry for you and your neighbors and your constituents and the hearts of the nation are with you tonight. Thank you for joining us from the vigil at the Washington monument.

Coming up, I'm going to take you to another vigil. There are so many. If people aren't holding vigil in their own homes tonight, at least the people in this community have headed to two local churches. At one of those vigils you're going to hear from the governor of this state, Dan Malloy, and how he is reaching out to the people who live here who are bewildered and shocked by what's happened here today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: We're live with breaking news in Newtown, Connecticut, a small town in the southwestern part of this state that has been faced with the worst evil according to this state's governor that they will ever likely see.

Even the president had to wipe away tears today as he offered his support to the families of the victims of this terrible school shooting in Connecticut. Here are some of President Obama's remarks earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This afternoon, I spoke with Governor Malloy and FBI Director Mueller. I offered Governor Malloy my condolences on behalf of the nation and made it clear he will have every single resource that he needs to investigate this heinous crime, care for the victims, counsel their families.

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's 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 --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: We've been getting updates regularly, and sometimes we get identifications, sometimes we get a standby. Let's go live and see what's being said.

LT. J. PAUL VANCE, SPOKESMAN, CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE: This is a case of extremely large magnitude, as you know, between Newtown and state police and our federal partners that we utilize. Even some out- of-state partners will help us reach out of state if anything crosses the state borders. It's going to take a long time. We will be processing this building and I'm just speculating right now, but at least until Sunday.

REPORTER: Sir, have the parents been given access to the bodies of the deceased children?

VANCE: No.

REPORTER: How are you managing identifications?

VANCE: We have a process in place that we're going to establish. We have a process established, I should say, in place that we're going to utilize to identify each individual.

REPORTER: Lieutenant, do you expect that -- the identification to take into tomorrow or --

VANCE: We're cautiously optimistic we can have positive IDs by tomorrow. The professionals that are telling us that, specifically the medical examiner and his team, our investigators, and working together, we're hoping to accomplish that.

REPORTER: Does that include the body of the other --

VANCE: The families have been notified. Preliminary identifications have been made. And through process of elimination, unfortunately, the families have been told. But again, we want to be absolutely, positively sure, no doubt whatsoever.

REPORTER: We saw FBI on the scene earlier when it was crazy.

VANCE: Yes.

REPORTER: What was their role? Is there still a role for them right now?

VANCE: Certainly, they're with us, working with us. They were federal partners here, FBI, ATF, all offering services in any specialization they have, offering ability across state lines. Simply stated, everyone's come together in the law enforcement community. This is a massive investigation. So many law enforcement agencies don't ever have to undertake.

So, we certainly -- Newtown and state police working side by side utilizing any resource we might need and we're appreciative of any help we're getting.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) anyone but the perpetrator involved, any accomplice?

VANCE: No, at this point in time, we're confident we have the shooter.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) specific classroom? (INAUDIBLE).

VANCE: No, I'd rather not do that, quite frankly. I've been a trooper a long time and my lieutenant to my left has been in law enforcement a long time. It's just something that serves no useful purpose. It'd rather not get into that.

It's a horrific scene. Between our mutual experience, and we've never seen anything like this, it's heart-wrenching for us as it is for the families. I just would like to just leave that --

REPORTER: Did the shooter have a history with the school? Did he attend the school?

VANCE: I think what we've got to do -- we're looking at that. You know, we're looking at all the history. We'll go backwards as far as we have to go in this investigation. And hopefully we'll stumble on answers and we'll answers and hopefully not develop many more questions.

But we want to build the process and the story. An investigation like this is like a puzzle, all right? We want to put this puzzle together and form a complete picture so that everyone without any doubt whatsoever can truly understand what occurred.

So, I would like to say is that we'll come back tomorrow in the morning, let's say 8:00 in the morning, to let you know how we progressed overnight. As we prepare the list of positive identifications, I want to do one list. I don't want to do a piece meal. I don't want to do a couple here and a couple there. I want to do one final list. The minute that's done, we'll be here with it and also post it on our Web site so it's available to everybody, all right?

REPORTER: What's the timeline of other crime scene?

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) of your officers, with this situation the way they were able to get the kids out of there and get them home and as many out as quickly as possible.

VANCE: These guys, when they got to the door and were first in the door and the surrounding P.D.s and the troopers, their training kicked in. This is something you train for and plan for. You work towards. You hope to never have to use.

And their training kicked in and they saved a lot of lives. They did a great job. They did a great job. We're proud of it (ph).

REPORTER: Can you tell us about the shooter?

VANCE: I'm sorry?

REPORTER: What can you tell us about the shooter?

VANCE: I would rather do that in the morning when we have positive identification even of the shooter. We will have all that information and hopefully we can tie up loose ends first thing in the morning. But I'd like to leave it where we are right now and, you know, we'll fill in the voids tomorrow as much as we possibly can.

REPORTER: What's your timeline for the other crime scene?

VANCE: I'm sorry --

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)

VANCE: No, the Connecticut medical examiner is managing the cases and he did request some assistance and equipment that's been brought in for him. They are there working now.

REPORTER: Sir, how did you first hear about the shooting? What did they say or what was the first word you had?

VANCE: In a nut shell, it was 911 calls that came into Newtown state police and response was instantaneous, OK?

REPORTER: From within the school?

VANCE: Yes, from school sources.

REPORTER: Multiple calls?

VANCE: I'm not sure. Yes, I believe so, but I don't know how many --

REPORTER: Did you receive a 911 call (INAUDIBLE) this thing about the father and son?

VANCE: We've been in contact with any authorities -- our investigators, any authorities that can assist them in furthering their portion of the investigation. I do know New Jersey has been mentioned. There have been two or three different locations mentioned, but note to read into that. If there is something significant about reaching over a state line or about doing something that may be related to the case, we are not going to hide it. We will make it available to you and we'll certainly provide you with that information.

But, you know, don't read something into it because you hear that we have gone to authorities in another state. That doesn't mean anything really.

REPORTER: There have been a number of resources here for this. How are you delegating this scene with regards also to the rest of the state that has to be covered?

VANCE: It's working fine. We've got people on extended shifts and suffice it to say everybody's -- all hands on deck. We will do whatever it takes to accomplish it in a timely fashion.

All right. I'm going to end it because I would like to do is give you guys a break and give us a break, we'll be back 8:00 tomorrow morning here. OK? Thank you.

BANFIELD: That's Lieutenant Paul Vance. He's with the Connecticut State Police, giving what he said would be the last briefing of this evening.

A couple of the headlines from what he said. He said this was a horrific scene and we had never seen anything like this. He did say that the response was instantaneous, after the 911 calls and said that the response actually prevented the loss of further lives in the school as well.

One of the other poignant things he mentioned that I think bears repeating is that process of elimination has so far been how people have found out that they may have lost their own children. There have been no positive IDs made. They are working feverishly in the school. They have a lot of bodies, 26 bodies to process, and a scene as you heard is horrific.

So, by the process of elimination, parents who are not unified and reunited with their children today now officially know they likely never will be.

We'll be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: The bodies of 20 children, six adults and one shooter remain in a school after a horrific scene unfolded at the Sandy Hook Elementary School here in Newtown, Connecticut. The process will be meticulous throughout the night to do what's called the positive identification. That's necessary in this forensic investigation now after a day that has been searching and trying to find those who could be responsible or might have information.

As we know now, 20-year-old Adam Lanza is also dead in that school, the shooter apparently. His brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza taken in for questioning from Hoboken, not a suspect, but in for questioning. And Nancy Lanza, the mother of the two boys found dead in her son's residence here in Newtown.

Some of the scenes that emerged throughout the day were so astounding as people began to the magnitude of what transpired here. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OBAMA: Our hearts are broken today.

VANCE: A very horrific and difficult scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She had bullets going by him and she grabbed him and another child and pulled them into a classroom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three people went out into the hall and only one person came back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They told us that everybody that is missing and presumed missing is in the school and they are dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was mayhem in the room with all the kids and teachers trying to find your kid and identify where yours is, make sure that they're safe and trying to find out what the situation was, make sure everybody else is safe.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Some people were even like felt like they've got a stomachache.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the most traumatic event I ever experienced or even considered.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They let the students out and my daughter and her teacher out and as my daughter is walking out, she did see bodies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is now appearing to be probably the worst school yard catastrophe in history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quite a few kids that we lost today (INAUDIBLE) perished.

OBAMA: Beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These parents were waiting for their children to come out and thought they were still alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you wrap your mind around something like this?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: The community trying to make sense of what their governor said was evil visited upon this community today.

I'm Ashleigh Banfield in Newtown, Connecticut.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.