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December 15, 2012

Obama to Visit Town Shattered by School Shooting

by Carolyn Weaver

U.S. President Barack Obama travels on Sunday to Newtown, Connecticut, in an effort to comfort a shattered town reeling from a school shooting that left 20 young children and six adults dead.

A White House statement released Saturday said Obama will meet with the families of those who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and also thank first responders. The statement said the president will speak at an interfaith vigil for families of the victims and families from the school.

The announcement came just hours after Connecticut state police identified the victims and provided more information Saturday about their investigation into the mass shooting.

The 20 children killed Friday were first-graders, most of them six years old, according to the state medical examiner. Six women at the school, including the principal and several teachers, also were killed as they attempted to shield children after 20-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into the building and began firing.

Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver II said he believed the victims had each been shot more than once by a long rifle.  He said the wounds were devastating.

“My sensibilities may not be the average man, but this probably is the worst I have seen and the worst I know any of my colleagues have seen,” he said.

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Lanza killed himself at the scene. Earlier, he had allegedly shot to death his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their home in the small, wealthy community about 120 kilometers from New York.  

Connecticut police said several assault-style guns were found at the scene. All were registered legally to Nancy Lanza, reportedly a gun enthusiast who also owned several other weapons.

Police also said their investigation was turning up evidence, which they declined to detail, as to why Lanza targeted the school.  His older brother reportedly told police that Lanza had a form of autism or personality disorder. The autopsies on Lanza and his mother have not yet been completed.