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Newtown Remembers

Aired December 17, 2012 - 05:00   ET



ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): On this special edition of EARLY START, a community and a nation in mourning.


SAMBOLIN: The president, offering words of comfort and inspiration, to those trying to make sense of a senseless tragedy.

OBAMA: In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you've looked out of each other. And you cared for one another. And you've loved one another.

SAMBOLIN: We're remembering the victims, 20 children and six adults -- some who gave their lives to save others.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was truly selfless. She would not hesitate to think to save anyone else before herself, and especially children.

SAMBOLIN: And as more important details emerge about the worse day, people in the small Connecticut community search for strength to face the difficult days ahead.

GOV. DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: We will move on. We will never forget. We will, in many ways, be made stronger for what has transpired. And we will get better.


SAMBOLIN: Good morning. And welcome to this special edition of EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East. We're coming to you live from Newtown, Connecticut, this morning.

It is a raw and rainy morning here. Grief-stricken neighbors are holding each other tight, preparing for the first funerals today, in the aftermath of the Friday's massacre here at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

SAMBOLIN: So, here's the latest for you. President Obama came here last night, offering comfort to the inconsolable in private. Then, in an emotional interfaith service, telling those who lost their loved ones, you are not alone -- and promising to use all of his powers as president to stop these kinds of tragedies.

Today, Newtown will begin burying its dead, starting with two 6-year- old boys. Funerals today for Jack Pinto, a big New York Giants football fan, and Noah Pozner, the youngest of all of the victims.

BERMAN: We're also remembering the fallen this morning. All morning, we'll be getting to know a little bit more about the victims like Ana Marquez-Greene. She is a little girl who loved to sing while her brother played the piano. She also liked to write love letters, essay to her parents.

We'll bring the latest on the suspected shooter. How police say he got into the school and why he may have been targeting it.

And also, an exclusive, heartbreaking, frankly, wrenching interview with the family of Sandy Hook principal, Dawn Hochsprung. What her daughters would like you to know about their murdered mother.

SAMBOLIN: The first innocent victims of this senseless violence will be laid to rest today. Funeral services this afternoon for those two, beautiful little boys, Jack Pinto, just 6 years old, and Noah Pozner, who just turned 6 last month. Both of them killed in cold blood, the first of 20 funerals for children killed in Friday's massacre.

Sandra Endo is outside of a church in Newtown.

And, Sandra, this close-knit community is now beginning to say goodbye.

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Zoraida. This grief- stricken community now has the heartbreaking task of laying their loved ones to rest. Last night, President Obama spoke to residents here in Newtown, to offer words of comfort. Offer condolences from an entire nation. Saying tragedies like these must end.


OBAMA: As a community, you've inspired us, Newtown. In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you've looked out for each other. You've cared for one another. And you've loved one another.

This is how Newtown will be remembered. And with time and God's grace, that love will see you through.


ENDO: The president also met with victims' family members at a vigil to remember the lives lost in Friday's tragedy.

Today, the first of many funerals being laid to rest this afternoon, 6-year-old Noah Pozner. He has a twin sister, who family members say, doesn't know the exact way her brother died. Also being laid to rest, Jack Pinto, a huge sports fan. He's idol is New York Giants star receiver Victor Cruz. Cruz, during a game this weekend, wrote a tribute to Jack Pinto on his cleats, saying, "Jack Pinto, my hero" -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Sandra, this is really difficult to talk about, the whole concept of returning to school. And I know there's a plan for Sandy Hook Elementary kids to return to school. What are they?

ENDO: Right now, Zoraida and John, all schools here in Newtown will be closed today, so that staff can talk to experts to see how best to talk to their students, to handle the aftermath of Friday's shooting. Tomorrow, school and classes will resume, except for Sandy Hook Elementary. Administrators are working with a neighboring town to make sure that students can be accommodated there as soon as possible.

SAMBOLIN: Sandra Endo, reporting live for us, thank you very much.

BERMAN: And meanwhile, Connecticut State Police are painstakingly piecing together the evidence from Friday morning's massacre. They have positively identified Adam Lanza as the gunman who opened fire at Sandy Hook elementary school and they confirmed that he killed himself.

What we don't know yet is why he targeted that school and those 20 innocent children inside.

Alison Kosik has the latest on the investigation. She is outside the Lanza home this morning.

Good morning, Alison. What's the latest?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Actually, police have moved us much closer, up to the Lanza home. In fact, it's right over my shoulder here. It's a huge house that sits on a hill. Right now, there are a couple of police cars still sitting in front of this house. You know, as Newtown continues to grieve, though, this investigation continues in earnest, especially about what this gunman was up to, and the days and the weeks and the months leading up to this massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Investigators say they now have proof that the gunman was at least one gun range. But they won't say where or when.

They also say his mother, Nancy Lanza, who the gunman killed before he went to the school, was also as a gun range -- in fact, visited a gun range multiple times. They're not saying when or where, either.

Now, investigators say they've got an immense amount of witnesses to still talk to, including children. They've got to interview a lot of people. And they say they've got weeks' worth of work ahead of them. They say they're not yet ready to say what the motive is behind the shooting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LT. PAUL VANCE, CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE: Again, motive, as I discussed earlier, that will come as we finish the investigation. We simply can't piecemeal it. We don't have a specific reason that we can stand here and say this occurred. We will. And we are searching diligently and nonstop to answer that question.


KOSIK: And so, federal agents continue chasing leads. In fact, they're looking at as many as 30 gun ranges, hundreds of gun dealers in a four-county area, surrounding the Newtown area. They're really trying to get answers as to what this gunman was up to, before he opened fire inside this elementary school -- John.

BERMAN: As you say, Alison, there's so many questions.

Alison Kosik, outside the Lanza home this morning here in Newtown, Connecticut -- thanks, Alison.

SAMBOLIN: And just days after the massacre, the gun control debate is raging in America. President Obama says we need more meaningful action to prevent future tragedies. Opponents of gun control in Congress, maintain that Americans have a right to bear arms. But supporters of gun control question the right to own certain types of guns.


MALLOY: These are assault weapons. You don't -- you don't hunt deer with these things. And I think that's the question that a lot of people are going to have to resolve in their own minds. Where does this line -- where should this line get drawn?

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: A free people should be an armed people. It ensures against the tyranny of the government, if they know that the biggest army is the American people.


SAMBOLIN: A number of gun control measures have been introduced in Congress over the past few years. But not a single one has made it to the floor for a vote.

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said yesterday that she plans to introduce a bill next month that places a ban on assault weapons.

BERMAN: Today, of course, is the first day students across the country return to school since this massacre here in Connecticut. And from coast-to-coast, school districts are expected to review their security plans to satisfy anxious parents, students, teachers. I know, I was receiving memos from my kids' school all weekend.

Police departments in many communities around the country are expected to increase patrols. And many districts will offer additional counseling services to frightened students. SAMBOLIN: And "Saturday Night Live," normally known to take on the news of the day with comedy, took a much more subdued approach this weekend.

BERMAN: In the wake of the massacre in Newtown, the New York City's Children's Chorus opened the show singing "Silent Night."


SAMBOLIN: And coming up, a CNN exclusive. We're going to hear from the family of the Sandy Hook Elementary principal who lost her life trying to confront a killer.


BERMAN: Welcome back to this special edition of EARLY START this morning from Newtown, Connecticut.

She was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Now, Dawn Hochsprung is being remembered as a hero, who tried to subdue the gunman in the moments before she was killed.

SAMBOLIN: CNN's Gary Tuchman sat down for an exclusive conversation with her grieving family.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Principal Dawn Hochsprung was quite a bit younger than her husband, George. But when they got married 10 years, both for the second time, she with two daughters, and he with three, George was marrying his boss.

GEORGE HOCHSPRUNG, DAWN HOCHSPRUNG'S HUSBAND: She was an assistant principal at our school and (INAUDIBLE) school. And I was a seventh grade math teacher at that time. And I just fell in love with her.

TUCHMAN: George made the big decision. The time had come to propose.

HOCHSPRUNG: She turned me down five times.

TUCHMAN (on camera): You asked her to marry her. But she turned you down?

HOCHSPRUNG: Five times.


TUCHMAN: What happened the sixth time?

HOCHSPRUNG: The sixth time, I waited until it wasn't so rough sailing.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Indeed, George had been popping the question on a sailboat they bought together.

HOCHSPRUNG: We got married on a sloop out at Mystic (ph). TUCHMAN: Beth, Amy and Ann are George's daughters from his first marriage. Erica is Dawn's daughter from her first marriage. Her other daughter, Tina, was out while we were at the house. They are a blended but very close family, with 11 grandchildren.

HOCHSPRUNG: Dawn and I built this beautiful house, it's all a dream. And the dream was, chronological dream. It was going to be Dawn's house because I was going to die and I was going to be gone. I'm much older than Dawn.

It was going to be Dawn's house. Dawn's grandchildren, and all of these children could use the house on the lake. And we built rooms downstairs for kids. It was going to be Dawn's house ultimately, with all of the children, all the children.

And now, it's me. I can't -- I don't think I can do that.

TUCHMAN (on camera): But I want to reiterate to you, George. You have these beautiful daughters and sons-in-law and grandchildren. And everyone will be here to take care of you. Is that right, ladies?

HOCHSPRUNG: My job has always been to take care of other people.

TUCHMAN: It's all right if someone takes care of you for a while.

HOCHSPRUNG: No one ever taking care of me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop being so stubborn.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): When Dawn was the principal of Sandy Hook, George still taught at the middle school where they met. In the middle of the day Friday, this is how George found out what happened.

HOCHSPRUNG: One of the kids came up with a computer. And said, something's happening at Sandy Hook School. And your wife's been killed.

TUCHMAN: George raced out of school and into a nightmare. Like all of the families of victims, they want to know more. And on this day, they have learned more. Two teachers who survived told George they were having a meeting with Dawn when the shots started ringing out.

HOCHSPRUNG: Dawn put herself in jeopardy. And I have been angry about that, angry, until just now, when I met two women that she told to go under shelter while she actually confronted the gunman. She could have avoided that. And she didn't. I knew she wouldn't.

So, I'm not angry anymore. I'm not angry. I'm not angry at anyone. I'm not angry. I'm just very sad.

They said they were at the meeting. There were gunshots. Somebody shot the window. Somebody came in, into the -- not into the office, but into the building, the foyer of the building.

And Dawn told us to go hide. And she and at least one other teacher went out and actually tried to subdue the killer. I don't know where that comes from. Dawn was 5'2".

TUCHMAN: Everyone here is so proud. No one more so than Erica, who said her mom was there for her daughters.

ERICA LAFFERTY, DAWN HOCHSPRUNG'S DAUGHTER: Every game, she was there. Every practice, she was there. All of my sisters' cheerleading stuff, she was there. Every dance competition.

She was doing homework on the bleachers. But she was there. And she was my rock -- my rock.

TUCHMAN: And now, she is a hero, too.

(on camera): Final thing I want to ask you is, what would you say to your mom right now?

LAFFERTY: Come back. Just come back.


BERMAN: Yes, yes, yes, sir.

SAMBOLIN: That was Gary Tuchman reporting.

You know, it's really difficult, I would imagine, for the families. But for all of us to hear their stories and know how they were in life, is really, I think, spectacular.

BERMAN: It is.

SAMBOLIN: I helps with closure and hope.

BERMAN: It's tough to hear this man say that he was supposed to die first, that they bought the house. And she was supposed to live in it. And that, you know, he doesn't want to be taken care of. It's just --

SAMBOLIN: It breaks your heart.

BERMAN: It's tough to hear. It just makes it really, real.

We'll be right back.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. We are in Newtown, Connecticut, where this morning a grieving community prepares for the first of more than two dozen funerals. Today, they will bury two 6-year-old boys -- Jack Pinto, a big New York Giants fans, and Noah Pozner, the youngest of the 20 children were slaughtered Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

BERMAN: Police are trying to piece together everything that went on. We're trying to find out more about the shooter this morning. Why he may have been targeting the Sandy Hook School and how he got in those doors to begin this deadly rampage. SAMBOLIN: And for a look at some of the other stories making news this morning, we're going to go to Christine Romans. She is standing by live in New York for us.

Good morning to you, Christine.


Killed in the line of duty, two Kansas police officers shot while responding to reports of a suspicious car at a grocery store. They died last night at Topeka Hospital. A third officer on the scene was not hit. The suspected shooter, 22-year-old David Tiscareno is on the run. He is considered armed and extremely dangerous.

Later today, the State Department is expected to get the results of an independent review board investigation of that terror attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Congress will receive the report Wednesday and will be briefed by members of the board. Hearings and testimony in the House and the Senate start Thursday.

Senator John Kerry is expected to be President Obama's nominee to be the next secretary of state. According to the Democratic source, the formal announcement could come next week. In his current role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry had traveled the world to smooth over strained relationship, including a visit to Pakistan after the death of Osama bin Laden.

And U.S. stock futures are mixed this morning, all eyes remain in Washington to see if lawmakers can strike a deal to avoid $7 trillion in tax increases and spending cuts over the next decade.

After a victory for Japan's pro-stimulus liberal Democratic Party, the Nikkei 225 Index in Japan is trading higher today. The win will most likely result in a loosening of Japan's monetary policy, which could lead to a drop in the price of the yen.

Despite some upbeat on the economic data on the global recovery Friday, markets ended lower last week. It's all about the fiscal cliff, right? Could Washington actually be making strides in fiscal cliff negotiations?

Yesterday, a source familiar with the talks told CNN that House Speaker John Boehner has offered to extend the debt limit for a year as part of the deficit reduction deal. The debt ceiling, the amount the government can legally borrow currently stands at $16.4 trillion. Raising it further, requires an act of Congress, something the Republicans have opposed since gaining the House back in 2010.

That news came a day after a source said Boehner had proposed higher rates on Americans with annual incomes over -- over -- $1 million, higher than what the president wants. President wants higher taxes on everybody over $250,000 -- John and Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Christine, thank you very much. And coming up, much more live from Newtown, Connecticut, where the nation looked to President Obama for comfort last night, and where detectives continue to look for answers today.



OBAMA: And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide it. Whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it. Newtown, you are not alone.


BERMAN: Newtown, you are not alone.

President Obama offering comfort to this grieving community, as Newtown prepares to begin burying the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Welcome back to this special edition of EARLY START. I'm John Berman.