One day after a gunman killed 20 children and six others at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., local authorities said they have completed autopsies on all the victims and believe the children suffered multiple gunshot wounds from a rifle.
Dr. H. Wayne Carver II, Connecticut’s chief medical examiner officer, began a press conference late Saturday afternoon extending his sympathies to families of the victims and then detailed the heart-wrenching process of positively identifying the victims through photographs taken by the medical examiner’s office.
”It’s easier on the families when you do that,” Carver said. “There’s a time and a place for up close and personal in the grieving process.”
As police were briefing reporters on the horrific tragedy, investigators continued to piece together what happened Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School and what drove the alleged shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, to gun down more than two dozen people in the tight-knit Connecticut community and then reportedly commit suicide.
A motive for the massacre is still unclear.
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that Lanza suffered from a personality disorder. Lanza reportedly killed his mother before the morning shooting rampage.
The shooter took three guns into the school, a law enforcement official told the AP. Police reportedly recovered a Glock, a Sig Sauer and a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle.
“These 20 children lit up this community better than all these Christmas lights we have,” said Monsignor Robert Weiss, according to the AP. “There are a lot brighter stars up there tonight because of these kids.”
At the press conference, Lt. J. Paul Vance, gripped a large folder holding the names of all the victims in Friday’s tragedy and stressed privacy for the families of the victims before he released the names to reporters.
Police said a state trooper has been provided for each grieving family.
“I ask that you help us in this healing process,” said First Selectman Pat Llodra. “Please treat our community with kindness.”
“I think we’re all touched by the magnitude of this tragedy,” she added.
Carver, the medical examiner, said his team arrived at Sandy Hook Elementary School shortly after the building was secured and remained at the scene until 12:30 Saturday morning.
Postmortems for all the children were completed at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, he said.
The shooter’s autopsy is expected to be completed Sunday.
“This probably is the worst I have seen or the worst that I know of my colleagues having seen,” Carver said.