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Valley Public Radio Staff
Mon December 17, 2012
Details Of Newtown Shootings 'Too Difficult To Discuss' Now, Police Say
Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 4:51 pm
As new pieces of information come in about Friday's mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., which left 20 children and six adults dead, we'll post them here.
The day began, just after 10 a.m. ET, with Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance telling reporters that most of the emerging evidence is "too difficult to discuss ... I'm not going to lie to you."
Update at 6:49 p.m. ET. Dogs Try To Comfort Students.
As vigils and funerals are held in Newtown, a team of golden retrievers is also in town, part of an effort to brighten the days of children who are coping with the loss of their friends and a profound and lasting disruption in their lives.
"The dogs have become the bridge," dog handler Lynn Buhrke, 66, tells The Chicago Tribune. "People just sit down and talk to you."
The comfort dogs arrived in town over the weekend; some were present at outdoor vigils held near the site of last night's memorial service attended by President Obama.
The team also visited Christ the King Lutheran Church, which is planning two funerals for children slain at Sandy Hook Elementary.
"You could tell which ones ...were really struggling with their grief because they were quiet," said Hetzner, who works with a female dog named Chewie. "They would pet the dog, and they would just be quiet."
As The Tribune reports, the initiative grew out of an attempt to console students at Northern Illinois University, where a gunman killed five people in 2008. The program has now reportedly spread to include six states.
Update at 3 p.m. ET. First Funerals.
Two of the first-graders who died, Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner, were the first to be remembered at funerals, earlier this afternoon.
The Associated Press writes that:
"A rabbi presided at Noah's service, and in keeping with Jewish tradition, the boy was laid to rest in a simple brown wooden casket adorned with a Star of David. Outside the funeral home, well-wishers placed two teddy bears, a bouquet of white flowers and a red rose at the base of an old maple tree.
" 'If Noah had not been taken from us, he would have become a great man. He would been a wonderful husband and a loving father,' Noah's uncle Alexis Haller told mourners, according to remarks he provided to The Associated Press. Both services were closed to the news media. ...
"Noah's twin sister, Arielle, who was assigned to a different classroom, survived the killing frenzy. ...
"At Jack's Christian service, hymns rang out from inside the funeral home. A mourner, Gwendolyn Glover, said that Jack was in an open casket and that the service was a message of comfort and protection, particularly for other children.
" 'The message was: You're secure now. The worst is over,' she said. The funeral program bore a quotation from the Book of Revelation: 'God shall wipe away all tears. There shall be no more death. Neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.' "
Update at 1:15 p.m. ET. Wounded Victims Will Not Be Identified Yet:
"We do not identify witnesses," Vance told reporters a few minutes ago, after being asked about the two adults who police now say were shot and wounded. Before today, there had only been word about one wounded individual.
As for when authorities will be able to say more about gunman Adam Lanza, his possible motive, the scene inside the school and other details, Vance cautioned that "it's a slow process."
With several jurisdictions involved in the investigation, hundreds of interviews to be done and a mountain of evidence to be processed, the investigation will take a long time, Vance said. But, he added, "we know that the people of Connecticut ... the people of Newtown ... want to know what happened." Authorities, he pledged, will put together "a clear picture [of] exactly what happened here."
Vance also told reporters that the midday news briefing is the last he plans to hold at the scene. Future updates will be posted on his department's website. News briefings will only be held if there are significant breakthroughs to report.
10:15 a.m. ET:
-- What investigators are learning is "too difficult to discuss" at this time: When reporters asked this morning if Vance could offer any more details about what went on in the school after Lanza forced his way in, the State Police spokesman was blunt. It's "too difficult to discuss" at this time, "I'm not going to lie to you," he said. Investigators, he added, have a huge amount of information to process before more can be said. Every single round of ammunition, he pointed out, needs to be examined.
-- Two people were shot and injured: Until this morning, it had been widely reported that one person was shot and injured. But Vance told reporters this morning that "two adults" were shot and injured, and are recovering.
Vance did not make any changes in the story's other key details: 20 children and six adults killed at the school; the gunman, Adam Lanza, found dead at the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot; and Lanza's mother, Nancy, found dead at their home.
-- Investigators may "hold" the school for months: Vance said both the school and the Lanza home are crime scenes that investigators will be "holding ... indefinitely." He suspects, Vance said, it could be months before investigators release their hold on the school.