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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Connecticut School Shooting One of Worst in U.S. History

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.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight the unthinkable. A gunman storms a Connecticut elementary school, killing 20 children and six adults. It is now one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was -- she was under the table. The shooting happened in the hallway. And to hear her describe it, she said that there was -- it must have been 100 -- 100 rounds.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now we are hearing the number of fatalities of both adults and children is closer to 30.

Was everybody crying, scared, wanting their parents to come get them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. They were. And then some people were even they kind of got a stomach ache.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were several fatalities at the scene, both students and staff.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news in the mass school shooting in Connecticut. Sources telling CNN the suspect has been identified as Adam Lanza, age 20. This is video of the suspect`s brother, Ryan, being taken into custody for questioning.

This unimaginable horror has gripped the nation understandably as we get new details about one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. It is a tragedy so wrenching it reduced the president of the United States to tears.

Right now 27 people are confirmed dead in Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Twenty children, six adults, and the alleged shooter. Tonight uncovering the secrets that led to this mass murder.

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live on a very sad night.

It happened this morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, just after 9:30 in the morning. Police get a 911 call about shots fired at the school, and nobody could imagine what police would find. This is an elementary school, kindergarten through fourth grade. The children are between the ages of 5 and 10. And they experienced true horror today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in the gym at the time. And so the teachers, we heard, like, lots of bangs. And we thought that it was the custodian knocking stuff down. We heard screaming and so we -- we went out -- we went to the wall, and we sat down. And then police came in; it`s like, "Is he in here?" Then he ran out.

MAUREEN KARENS: All I could say is that one of the cops, the worst thing he`d ever seen in his entire career, but it was when they told the parents. All these parents were waiting for their children to come out. They thought that they were, you know, still alive. There`s 20 parents that were just told that their children are dead. It was awful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m just so grateful to the teacher that saved him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think the teacher saved his life?

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Among the dead were the school`s principal, Dawn Hochsprung, and a school psychologist, along with four other adults. Sources tell CNN the gunman was Adam Lanza, not his brother Ryan, as originally reported.

Also among the dead, Nancy Lanza, believed to be the mother of the shooter who was killed in the family home at another location in the same area. She was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

I think we`re all grieving tonight and all shaking our heads, wondering how could somebody walk into an elementary school and gun down 20 innocent children? And of course, we`re all wondering why.

I want to hear from you. Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to Beth Karas, correspondent, "In Session" on TruTV. You are there outside the school is my understanding. What can you tell us about the torment that these parents are going through tonight, apparently still converged, many of them, at the school?

BETH KARAS, CORRESPONDENT, TRUTV`S "IN SESSION": You know, Jane, I`m about a mile away. I was outside the firehouse right on the street. The school is set back. And that`s blocked off now, of course, because the medical examiner is in there, crime scene technicians, so no one can get near.

So I moved about a mile away, where more media are camped out in a big park area, one of the bigger areas where there`s space enough where the media are descending on this beautiful, one would say idyllic, little New England town.

Sandy Hook is actually a village within Newtown. And, you know, as you can imagine, sunset came shortly after I arrived. And there was just this eeriness in the air around here. I talked to a few people, not many. As I was walking to the park here, a house right on the road, close to the road, folks in the house were putting up a big flag. They had a big sign that they are saying prayers, God bless the families.

Media were out there filming the family erecting this little altar to -- to the slain family members, the children. Things took a turn, I`m told here, when the medical examiner went in and some cops went in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Beth, I`m going to ask you to speak up a little bit. It`s hard to hear you with a lot of background noise. If you could speak up, Beth. Thank you.

KARAS: OK. All right. Now, there`s a lot going on on both sides of me.

Things took a turn, I`m told. It got even more -- I don`t know, more of a barricade from the media and the officials once the medical examiner went in there two or three hours ago and other crime scene folks.

Now, if there`s one shooter, there`s not going to be any prosecution here. There could be civil suits, but they`re still going through the process of collecting evidence and trying to figure out what happened. Maybe even the sequence of events.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Beth, can I jump in with a question? I want to - - I want to ask you. It`s a very difficult question, but obviously, parents converged at the school and we know that 20 children tragically died. Do all the parents who lost children know -- know that?

KARAS: Yes. Parents were reunited with their children, the surviving children. Then the parents left, we`re all told. That`s it. There are no more children coming out to be reunited. So anyone left knew they did not have a child who survived. So that part is over a few hours ago.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that is -- that`s one of the saddest things I`ve ever heard.

Students and teachers were terrified when this gunman walked into the school and started shooting. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody yelled, "Get to a safe place." So we went to a closet in the gym. And we sat there for a little while. And then the police, like, were knocking on the door, and they were like, "We`re evacuating people. We`re evacuating people."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re getting new information about this suspect, this alleged gunman. His name is Adam Lanza. He is 20 years old. Was 20 years old. He`s now deceased.

He walked into the school at 9:30 in the morning. Authorities say he was wearing black battle fatigues and a military vest. He had three guns, a Sig Sauer handgun, a .223 Bushmaster and a 9 mm Glock handgun. We are told his mother taught at the school. But interestingly enough, she was found dead in the family home in another part of Newtown, Connecticut. Adam allegedly killed himself inside the school.

And we have just gotten, moments ago, video of his brother, Ryan Lanza, being led out by police for questioning. Investigative reporter Jon Lieberman, you`re getting new information about what`s going on in Hoboken, New Jersey. Bring us up to date.

JON LIEBERMAN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Yes. We have a lot of new information. That was Ryan you just saw. Right now, law enforcement doesn`t believe that he`s directly involved here. But they have brought him in for questioning, as you just saw.

In addition, they brought in Adam Lanza, the main suspect here. They brought in his father for questioning, as well. He is divorced from the deceased mother who you just talked about moments ago, but he lives in that same general area still. They`re talking to him.

Perhaps the most significant information right now, Jane, that`s new is law-enforcement sources confirm that the three guns used in this horrible massacre were actually registered to Adam`s mother Nancy...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow.

LIEBERMAN: ... one of the victims. It appears they were purchased legally, and the two handguns were actually found inside the school next to the deceased gunman, and the rifle was actually found in the car that the gunman used to drive to the school.

Two other quick points. The suspect, Adam, we understand he was on the honor roll in 9th grade in 2007, and we also were told he has no criminal record.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And you just mentioned the father was taken in for questioning.

LIEBERMAN: Taken in for questioning. It`s not believed that he has any links, but police are covering all of their bases.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, you said the larger weapon was in the car. Does that mean he did not use the larger weapon? Extrapolate. Obviously, we don`t know for sure, but the shooting occurs, the massacre occurs within the school. Two guns are found next to the deceased alleged shooter. This larger weapon is found in the car. Is that correct?

LIEBERMAN: Yes. Keep this in mind: there was an alleged murder prior to the suspect arriving at the school.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. He killed his mother, allegedly.

LIEBERMAN: Correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So good information. Thank you, Jon.

How did the gunman get into the building? Here`s a parent talking about the procedures at the school.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s sign-in procedures. I believe the front door is locked during the day, too. So I`m curious to see how these people get -- get into the building.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Brooks, HLN law enforcement analyst. Three guns, as we just mentioned, were found with the suspect. One in his vehicle, reportedly, but two with him, a 9 mm Glock handgun and a gun called a Sig Sauer. And then the other one, the .223 Bushmaster, that was found inside the car.

Tell us how these guns were, because we`re hearing reports that there were approximately 100 rounds...

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... fired in a very short period of time. How does that happen with these weapons?

BROOKS: Well, the Sig Sauer and the -- and the Glock are both handguns, Jane. We don`t know any caliber. We said 9 mm Glock. That`s the first I have heard of that. I don`t know if the Glock and the Sig are 9. I don`t know if they`re .40, a .40 caliber, .45.

But the figure, the magazine, you know, some people call it a clip. The magazine that goes into these handguns, you`re going to find most of the time that you`re going to have, basically, like a 19-round magazine. So how many magazines did he go in there with, with these two -- with these two handguns? It`s unknown right now.

Now, if you had told me that -- that the rifle, the .223 Bushmaster, we don`t know -- that`s caliber. We don`t know what model the Bushmaster was used, as you`re seeing right here. That`s .223 is the caliber. We don`t know what model.

Now, that magazine, Jane, usually holds 30 rounds. So it was making sense to me when we were hearing from witness accounts of maybe 100 or more rounds with -- between the three guns. But if he had only the two handguns inside the school, then he would have had to have a number of extra magazines with him, unless he had some large-capacity magazines for those two handguns.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side of the break, we`re going to hear details, as reported to somebody at CNN, somebody who was inside the school when this erupted. She was in a meeting with the principal, who was massacred. On the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw some of the bullets going past the hall that I was right next to, and then a teacher pulled me into her classroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you heard sounds?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did it sound like to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounded like someone was kicking a door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It didn`t sound like gunshots, did it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it didn`t.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Precious, innocent children, ages 5 to 10, enduring the unimaginable in this, one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history.

I want to go to Craig Middleman, a resident of this community of Newtown. Sir, thank you for joining us. I understand that you`re the father of four who go to the district. But they`re a little older; they don`t go to that school. But you have friends whose children go to this particular elementary school. What can you tell us about what your community is going through tonight emotionally and what you`ve heard from the parents who have kids who`ve attended this school?

CRAIG MIDDLEMAN, RESIDENT (via phone): You know, I think that our experiences here at home are probably shared by a lot of the families that are experiencing the same thing with their kids. I think everybody currently feels blessed to have their children at home. We`re trying to act fairly normally.

I think if the families are anything like ours, we`re trying to deal with protecting our kids, but at the same time, how to effectively communicate with them.

This is a tragedy that is obviously never timely. We are, I think, as a community completely traumatized by events that happen nationally, but when it happens in your hometown, it takes a particular toll.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s unimaginable. And it`s happening way too often. It was just a couple of days ago that we covered another spree shooting at a shopping mall. And then before that, we had the movie theater. More and more institutions that are supposed to be safe, that are supposed to be areas of comfort and fun and education becoming shooting grounds.

I want to go to Dr. Drew Pinsky, perhaps best suited to give us some kind of perspective, some kind of solace as we try to process the unthinkable.

DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN HOST: Jane, I`m so glad you put it that way, because I really do think it`s time for us in the media to help people work their way through this. Because they need people reassuring them. Their - - you know, the parents out there trying to support the kids, the parents need support.

And here`s the deal. We are all going to make it through this. We are going to be fine. Connecticut will be here tomorrow we heard the governor saying. We saw our own president showing the emotions that so many of us are feeling.

I, like many of you at home, my feelings change every five minutes. I go from disgust to heartbreak to, frankly, numbness and fatigue. And this is normal. We don`t have to rush to make everything OK for our kids or our community. But we must start turning this battleship around now.

Jane, I`m sick of having these conversations in the media. I know you are. How many more massacres are we going to have to report on before we begin to take mental-health issues seriously, before we report suspicious things and use police and mental-health officials as somebody to assist us rather than somebody to be avoided?

How much longer are we going to do this before we change things and really heal our culture and, frankly, behave like a healthy family?

You know, Jane, you know when you go into treatment for addiction or alcoholism, the people in the treatment community all get along. They behave -- they become a unified healthy unit. They`re different people, with exchanges of ideas, but they model a healthy family. That`s what we must do at home. That`s what we must do in our community. That`s what we must do as a state, and that`s what we must do as a nation. It`s time to be a healthy family.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Drew, I couldn`t agree with you more. And the addiction analogy is apropos. I pray that this is a wake-up call for America and that we have hit bottom. Just as addicts hit bottom on their disease, that America has hit bottom on this violence.

And that we all collectively say, something is wrong here, something must change. We must look at this as a nation. And if we do, perhaps those 20 innocents will have not died in vein.

Dr. Drew, thank you. I know you`re going to have much more coming up on your show as we take a look at this and try to get to the deeper why and find our way out to a solution to prevent it from happening again.

On the other side of the break, we`re going to talk to a friend of Ryan Lanza, the brother of the suspected shooter. We`re going to talk to a friend of this family, who may know something about the deeper why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have identified the suspected shooter, now deceased, as Adam Lanza, 20. Now, we are going to go to Brett Wilshe.

Brett, thank you for joining us. And I appreciate you speaking out at this time, as we try to understand what -- what on earth is going on with this other...

(CROSSTALK)

BRETT WILSHE, FRIEND OF FAMILY (via phone): Yes, I`m here. Can you hear me?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, Brett, I can hear you. I understand you`re a friend of Ryan Lanza, the brother of the suspected shooter. What can you tell us about this family? We`re hearing that the mother of the shooter bought these guns legally.

What can you tell us about this family dynamic, that -- that the brother of the person that you know would allegedly shoot his mother and then go to the school. And by the way, we`re looking now at the brother of the shooter. This is the person you know -- Brett.

WILSHE: Regrettably, I can`t tell you anything about his family, because I don`t know any of them. What I can tell you is about Ryan himself, if that`s what you`d like to hear.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sure. Yes. Tell us about Ryan.

WILSHE: Ryan is a great kid. And I met him about a year and a half ago. And I can tell you that he`s very passionate about what he`s into. The arts and -- and electronics and games and stuff like that.

And when I heard a lot of news outlets this morning reporting that he was a suspect in the killing, the cliche is to say, well, it couldn`t have been him, but I just knew it couldn`t have been, because I know him. And I`m glad it turned out to be false and that it was his brother.

Now also, I did -- I did get in contact with him at about 1:15 this afternoon. So I was able...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What did he say to you?

WILSHE: ... to verify that he was alive, and I know that the suspect was dead. So I knew it wasn`t him and...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What did he say to you?

WILSHE: He basically told me in one message that his brother had done it, and that he didn`t know what was going on and he was scared. And all of that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So Brett, for your friend, the brother of the suspected shooter, this is hellish, as well, yes?

WILSHE: I`m sorry. I couldn`t hear what you said. I think you`re breaking up. Hold on one second.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this is -- this is a horrible trauma for this innocent brother of -- of this shooter. He`s also a victim in a sense. His life has been forever changed.

WILSHE: I just had to walk outside. Because my network has been crazy today. I`ve been having a lot of calls go off constantly. Can you just repeat the last question? I`m so sorry.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I just wanted to get a sense -- you know the brother of the shooter -- that his life has also been altered, that he has also seen his life shattered. We`re looking at video of him. The entire world is seeing video of this -- this young man who is not the shooter, and yet now he`s forever associated with this horror.

WILSHE: Well, the problem is that everyone was falsely reporting him as being the killer for six hours or so. And even some of us didn`t know what was going on. So not only does he have to deal with the fact that his mother and brother are both dead in the wake of one of the worst shootings the country has seen, you know, he also has to be attached to it, because for most of the day, everyone thought it was him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did he ever mention his brother to you in conversation?

WILSHE: No, he didn`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hmm. So did you find that odd, his lack of communication about his family?

WILSHE: No, of course not. I don`t know Ryan well enough to know a lot about his family. But I know him well enough to know -- to know some things about him. But he and I aren`t close enough where I know much what`s going on in his personal life. So...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I want to -- Brett, I want to thank you.

WILSHE: ... there`s nothing that I could really add to that discussion.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, you`ve informed us, and I want to thank you. And again, he is, as this unfolds, appears to be another victim of this horror. Violence devastates the families of the perpetrators in many, many ways.

Mike Brooks, you hear this, and you hear -- you`ve covered so many of these stories. The shattering, the survivor`s guilt that the -- those who survived who were in the building may feel. Obviously, the unspeakable horror of those who lost their children. The repercussions of this are beyond comprehension.

BROOKS: You know, I think, Jane, out of this we`re going to hear many stories of some of the survivors who were in that school that are going to be -- that are heroes. They`re true heroes.

We heard one little boy today who had bullets flying past him, and a teacher reached out and grabbed he and another little boy and pulled them in the classroom, most likely saving their lives in that hallway.

You know, but then you`re going to have other ones who were around -- maybe around Adam Lanza, who you know, maybe he was showing, exhibiting some signs. Because I usually see in an instance like this, Jane, that something happened, usually within 24 to 48 hours, that -- that just set this person off, that precipitated the actions of a shooter. So you know, what that was, we don`t know. What -- any mental health history of Adam Lanza, this 20-year-old shooter, we don`t know yet. But I`m sure we`ll be finding out more and more about him as the story continues.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well -- very briefly, mental health.

LIEBERMAN: Briefly, I`ve been texting with cops up there all day. And that`s one thing they are delving into, like Mike said. The mental health history of the suspect. They`re also scouring the Internet and message boards to see if he posted anything prior about what he was about to do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, in the movies, they talk about an inciting incident. And that`s based on real life. Usually, there is some kind of incident that triggers something that then follows that is much more explosive.

So it`s certainly significant that he allegedly kills his mother in their family home and then goes to the school where the mother had taught and targets classes. Was he going to this institution that his mother held dear and held sacred, and was that aimed at his mother, the very person he allegedly killed? We can only ask. We don`t know what`s going on in the mind of what would obviously be a very, very disturbed person.

On the other side, we`re going to take you to a vigil that is going on now in the community of Newtown as people come together to comfort each other as we go through this nightmare.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She heard -- she described it as a pop, pop, pop in the hall. And they all heard it. There were about seven people in the meeting room. They heard that sound in the hall. And they -- she said three people went out into the hall -- The principal, the vice principal and the school psychologist. And to hear her describe it she said three people went out into the hall and only one person came back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Twenty children dead, six adults -- among them the principal of the elementary school, Sandy Hook`s principal, Dawn Hochsprung, was among those killed. And she may very well emerge as one of the key heroes in this entire saga.

She had recently installed a brand new security system at the school. She has sent a letter home to parents. And this was a woman who cared so deeply. She heard this noise and she didn`t shy away from it. She went out to investigate and that`s when she was gunned down, protecting, trying to protect her kids, her students 20 of whom are dead.

But imagine the image of 600 kids in this elementary school. So you have hundreds of kids with their hands on each other`s shoulders marching out, being told to close their eyes as they passed gruesome scenes. But this will, of course, be seared into their minds forever.

And that I believe is the heroic principal who we just referred to Dawn Hochsprung. My condolences to her family and to the families of everyone who lost loved ones.

Let`s go to Rita Cosby. You`re outside the church, I understand, in Newtown, Connecticut where people are coming together and trying to support each other through this terrible time -- Rita.

RITA COSBY, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: You know Jane, this has just been incredible, this outpouring of support. The church inside is a large church, it`s a large Catholic church here in Newtown, just a short distance away from where the school shooting took place about four or five miles from where the mother was killed at the house. We just left that area.

And the whole church is packed inside and you can just see -- take a look over my shoulder; just the enormous outpouring of support -- hundreds upon hundreds of people from this community coming. When I was walking up, I could just see them. They were all crying, so emotionally moved, because we have been told that about 7 to 10 members of this church actually were (inaudible) killed in the shooting.

Remember, families -- this is a very, you know, small community, everybody knows each other. And so many family members who attended here lost loved ones today in that terrible massacre.

Also just to give you a little sense of what`s inside -- silent, somber. The governor of Connecticut came here. Also senators were inside, many dignitaries inside and of course, many people in the community showing their support.

In addition to this, Jane, I also just came back from the neighborhood. This is the area where the Lanza family was living, where Nancy Lanza was living; talked to a lot of people who knew her, some people who also knew her two sons. As we know her son and her ex-husband are now being questioned; her other son, of course, the suspected shooter in this case who has, of course, taken his own life.

And I want to give you some details about Adam Lanza since we have identified him as the shooter. I actually got some information. We were the first ones to get these details. There was a brochure sort of passed along within the neighborhood where they sort of identified neighbors. This was given years ago, sort of like neighbor get to know your neighbor.

And here are some details about Adam Lanza. Just so we know, this is the man -- again, the suspected shooter who has taken his own life. Born April 22nd, 1992, again he`s 20 years old. And his interests -- this was done a couple of years ago -- say he likes soccer, skate boarding and video games.

And I also talked to neighbors, you know, we were talking -- I just was listening to Mike Brooks saying there on the show, Jane, with usually the warning signs. The neighbors I talked to, again, they didn`t see them on a day-to-day basis, but what they did say that there were some troublemakers in the neighborhood, but they said they didn`t believe that the Lanza kids -- that Adam Lanza was one of them. So nothing well known to all of the neighbors in terms of hinting a trouble maker or a problem in the neighborhood.

Back to you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Excellent information there, thank you for that, Rita.

Holly Hughes, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor. First thing that occurs to me is that the families who lost loved ones, there`s really very little chance of finding justice here because if the shooter is deceased, as we believe, then there`s no prosecution.

HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That`s exactly right, Jane. And that`s why it`s going to become very important. The police will be getting search warrants. They`ll be going through the home computer, laptop computers, any electronic devices that this alleged suspect, Adam Lanza, had access to. They want to see if anybody else was involved in this. Did anyone encourage him to do it?

Aid and abet -- a lot of times what we`ll see is if someone has mental instability, some mental health issues, they can be pushed into something. So someone who wasn`t present at the scene might have been communicating with him and encouraging him to engage in this behavior.

So sadly, if he was solo in this endeavor, there`s no one that will be taken to court. Those parents will not have the opportunity to go into a courtroom and see what we think of as a sense of justice. But if there is -- if they finally figure out that he was it, then at least they have closure to that part of it and there isn`t that prolonged process where those parents of a murdered loved one are waiting years and years to see the end of the justice process.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And as you reported, Jon Leiberman, the mother reportedly purchased the guns legally. She`s also deceased. So in terms of liability or civil action, there`s also limitation there.

Want to go to the phone lines. Robin, Florida. Your question or thought -- Robin, Florida?

ROBIN, FLORIDA (via telephone): Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can you go ahead? Can you hear me?

ROBIN: Yes, I can hear you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead with your question or thought, ma`am.

ROBIN: My question is that I`m a teacher, a mother and a woman in this country. There`s a lot of people that do have mental problems. My concern is the guns that the child got from his mother who legally purchased them. What can we do as a society to change the gun laws? Because there`s a lot of people who have emotional problems but we`re not even finding them as you ask people about this child.

He could have just killed his mother another way had there been no guns involved and none of these children would have died or (inaudible). What do we do as a society when we have a majority of women to change the gun laws?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I thank you for your question. I think it`s a question that the United States and its people will be discussing in the coming days. More on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we first arrived there, there was not a lot of security to guard. And there were three children that came out. One of them had a very bloody face. It was a very violent scene. There were two other ones that they were in the arms of a state trooper. They did not move. Their face was very pale. It was very tragic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re talking about what happened this morning -- one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history. 26 dead -- 20 children, 18 of whom were killed at the school, two died at the hospital. And then six adults massacred.

Here`s what`s extraordinary. Very little talk of injuries. There`s only reportedly one person who was wounded. The shootings occurred fast and there reportedly focused on a small area of the school, approximately two rooms.

So with 20 children dead, this was just an unimaginable massacre where these young children ages 5 to 10 found themselves targeted in the corner of a room. It`s painful to even talk about.

I want to go to Jesse Rosenschein -- thank you so much for joining us tonight Jesse on this terrible occasion. You are a resident of this community, Newtown. And I understand that you are friends with kids, but we`re going to take a break and go to Connecticut state police first who are giving us an update. So let`s listen in and we`ll go to Jesse on the other side.

LT. PAUL VANCE, CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE: Ok. What we want to do is I`ll just give everybody a very, very brief overview. There`s nothing new to report except to tell you that the medical examiner`s office is on scene and have begun their work.

Honestly, the primary and first and foremost thing we have to get done is the identification of all the deceased. We have preliminary IDs but we have to do this legally by law and we want to do it probably. We would expect that the lieutenant and I would be here first thing in the morning between 7:00 and 8:00. And by that time, we`re hoping to have positive identification of all the deceased to provide you at that time.

We will send you out a news release, a press release. If you`re not on our e-mail list, get it off the AP. Primarily it`s going to include all the details that we have given you, for all the briefings that we`ve given during this evening.

I see no need to keep you all here tonight. Do what you feel is correct, but we will do no more briefings tonight. I`m going to again defer until probably 8:00 tomorrow morning. That`s what we`re shooting for.

A couple of quick questions and I`ll help --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, there you see -- all right, he`s taking questions. We`re going to go back.

VANCE: It was a female, it was an employee of the school who was wounded and was injured and is doing well.

(inaudible)

VANCE: Definitely, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are all of the bodies still inside the school?

VANCE: I don`t want to get into the details. Suffice it to say that the medical examiner has been on the scene with all the proper personnel and they will do what needs to be done. And again, primarily what we`re looking at right now is the positive Ids so we can give some closure to these people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the complexity of this investigation. We`re hearing about somebody -- rounds of fire. (inaudible) but this is going to be a very painstaking loss.

VANCE: I couldn`t have said it better myself. The way we investigate major crimes and for those of you who aren`t here on a regular basis, it`s a very meticulous process. We leave no stone unturned, we take as much time as we need. We use all the resources that we have available to us. We will do that in this case and then some.

This is a case of extremely large magnitude as you know, between Newtown and state police and our federal partners that we utilize. And even some out of state partners will help us reach out of state if anything crosses the state border. It`s going to take -- it`s going to take a long time.

We`ll be processing this building and I`m just speculating right now, but at least until Sunday. At least.

(inaudible)

VANCE: No.

(inaudible)

VANCE: We have a process in place. 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long do you expect that to take -- the identification to take?

VANCE: We`re cautiously optimistic that we can have positive IDs by tomorrow. That`s 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.

(inaudible)

VANCE: The families have been notified. Preliminary identification has 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw FBI on the scene earlier.

VANCE: Yes.

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

VANCE: Well, certainly they`re with us, working with us. There are federal partners here from FBI, ATF all offering services and any specialization that they have, offering ability in case something crosses state lines. There`s -- simply stated, everyone has come together in the law enforcement community.

This is a massive investigation that many law enforcement agencies don`t have to ever undertake. So we`re certainly Newtown and state police working side by side and utilizing any resource that we may need. We`re very appreciative of all the help that we`re getting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- Is there anyone but the perpetrator who`s dead is involved? Any (inaudible)

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us what specific classroom (inaudible)?

VANCE: 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. I`d rather not get into that. It`s a horrific scene. Between our mutual experiences, we have never seen anything like this.

It`s heart wrenching for us as it is for the families. I just would like to just leave it at that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- have any history with the school? Did he attend this school --

VANCE: I think what we have to do is -- (inaudible) -- 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 hopefully not develop many more questions, but we want to be able to build a process and build a 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.

What I`d like to say is that we`ll come back tomorrow in the morning, let`s say 8:0 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 it piecemeal. I don`t want to do a couple here, a couple there. I want to do one final list. The minute that`s done, we`ll be here with it and we`ll also post it on our Web site so that it`s available to everybody. All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s your timeline for the other --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- lieutenant and your officers, with this situation, the way they were able to get the kids out of there and keep them calm and get as many out as quickly as possible.

VANCE: These guys when they got to the door were the first to the door and the surrounding PDs and the troopers, their training kicked in. This is something that you train for, you train for, you plan for, you work towards, you hope to never have to use. And their training kicked in. They saved a lot of lives. They did a great job. I`m extremely proud of them.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- tell us all about the shooter.

VANCE: I`m sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What can you tell us about the shooter?

VANCE: Well, I`d rather do that in the morning once we have positive identification of the shooter, we want to have all that -- all that information, and hopefully we can tie up some loose ends for you 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 void tomorrow as much as we possibly can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the timeline for the other crime scene the same?

VANCE: I`m sorry.

(inaudible)

VANCE: No, the medical examiner is managing the cases and he did request some assistance and equipment that`s been brought in for him, but he`s there -- they`re there working now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you first hear about this shooting? What was the first --

VANCE: In a nutshell, it was 911 calls that came in to Newtown state police and the response was instantaneous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From within the school.

VANCE: From yes, from school sources.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One call or multiple calls?

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

(inaudible) And what are they saying about the father and son?

VANCE: We`ve been in contact with any authorities -- our investigators -- with any authorities that can assist them in furthering their portion of the investigation. I do know that New Jersey`s been mentioned, there have been two or three different locations that have been mentioned. But not to read anything into that if there`s something significant about reaching over a state line or about doing something that may be related to this case, we`re not going to hide it from you.

We`ll make it available to you. We`ll certainly provide you with that information. But you know, don`t read something into it just because you`ve heard that we`ve gone to authorities in another state. That doesn`t mean anything really.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the resources you have here for this, how are you delegating this scene in regards to also the rest of the state?

VANCE: It`s working fine. We`ve got people on extended shifts, some people are going to work extra hours and suffice it to say everybody`s -- everybody`s all hands on deck. We`ll get this done and we`ll do whatever it takes to accomplish this in a timely fashion.

All right. I`m going to end it, because what I`d 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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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. Among the fallen were also teachers -- men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A wrenching tragedy that moved the President of the United States to tears. You`re looking at video of a vigil at a Newtown church that is going on as we speak. Our producers are there and tell us that people are extraordinarily emotional. There`s a lot of weeping. There`s a lot of crying. There`s a lot of hugging as people try to make sense of the senseless.

How can you make sense of this? 20 children, innocence gunned down. It has to spark a national soul searching as we search for answers and also how to prevent this from ever happening again.

I want to go to Jesse Rosenschein -- thank you for your patience, ma`am. You`re a resident of this community. I understand you know people who have children who go to the school. What have you heard from them?

JESSE ROSENSCHEIN, NEWTOWN RESIDENT (via telephone): Just that they are struggling to try to explain. Some of them, they`re children, they`re still kind in shock. I don`t know that they`re fully coping with it yet. But I know that there was a (inaudible) sense of panic today amongst all of us. Originally we heard there was a shooting in Newtown, then to hear that it was in an elementary school was heart-wrenching and shocking.

I have colleagues who had to flee the building to literally go make sure that their children were alive.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s unimaginable.

Jeff Gardere, forensic psychologist, we only have a couple of seconds but how do parents help the surviving children cope with what they saw and heard.

JEFF GARDERE, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Look, this is a small town. The people know one another. They have to be supportive to one another. They have to talk to one another. And more than anything else with our children, find out what they want to know, be there, stabilize things for them, get them back into the routine and let them know that they`re loved and we will try to keep them safe even though there are no guarantees in life. We`ve learned that today, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have to say as a nation, enough is enough -- enough with this violence. Let`s do something together.

Nancy next.

END