Medical Examiner: Newtown Shooting Victims Suffered 'Devastating Set of Injuries'

Officials during a press conference shared some harrowing details of the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including the nature of gunshot wounds.

Update 6 p.m.

NEWTOWN, CT—Minutes before releasing a heart-wrenching list of those who perished in Friday’s mass shooting in Newtown, state officials reviewed some of the harrowing, gruesome details of what appears to have happened inside an elementary school where 20 children and six adults were shot dead by a lone gunman who then killed himself.

Responding to difficult questions posed by a national media corps that descended just one day earlier on this normally quiet town about 60 miles northeast of New York City, the Connecticut chief medical examiner described how and where the bullets entered the children, what the kids were wearing and how he felt about what he’d seen inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“This probably is the worst I have seen or the worst that I know any of my colleagues having seen,” said Dr. H. Wayne Carver II of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, where he’s been working for 31 years including 26 as chief.

Carver said he saw no difference in the pattern of shooting deaths between children and adults inside the school.

The weapon used primarily in the shootings was a long rifle, Carver said, and victims young and old were shot “all over” with some at close range and some not.

“I only did seven of the autopsies, the victims I had ranged from three to 11 wounds apiece and I only saw two of them with close range shooting,” Carver said.

The shooter who wielded that gun—discovered dead inside the building Friday with a rifle and two smaller guns near his body, police have said—has been widely reported to be Adam Lanza, 20. His motives remain unclear; state police are investigating.

Carver said he would complete autopsies on the shooter and the shooter’s mother, widely reported to be Nancy Lanza of Sandy Hook, on Sunday morning.

All bodies were removed from the school before dawn Saturday and transported to the medical examiner's base in Farmington—about 40 miles away. The children’s autopsies were performed first so that their bodies could be made available to funeral directors “for obvious reasons,” Carver said.

Asked whether the shooting victims at the school suffered, Carver responded: “To best of my ability to answer that question, which is always less than perfect: If so, not for very long.”

The graphic, detailed information seemed to fly in the face of a more private tone that Newtown First Selectman Patricia Llodra was trying to set when she preceded Carver at the podium.

Calling Newtown a “close-knit community” whose heart is broken in the wake of a “horrendous tragedy,” Llodra called for media members to respect the privacy of residents, including those grieving for lost loved ones.

“Please treat our community with kindness,” Llodra said. “Please know that we have suffered a terrible loss and we need your respect on this healing journey.”

Carver called the injuries to shooting victims “a very devastating set.”

Relatives identified their loved ones not in person but by photos taken of the victims’ faces, Carver said.

“We did not bring the bodies and families into contact, we took pictures of them, of their facial features,” he said. “It’s easier on the families when you do that. There is a time and place for up close and personal in the grieving process but to accomplish this we felt it would be best to do it this way.”

At one point a reporter asked Carver what the children were wearing, to which he replied: “They were wearing cute kids’ stuff. I mean they’re first-graders.”

Carver also was asked whether he became emotional among the bodies of so many victims, mostly children, and told the corps “Not yet.”

“I think if you don’t have to do that, you shouldn’t be in this business,” he said. “For this one, not yet. Notice I said ‘yet.’ “

Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police echoed Llodra’s imploring for privacy, reminding people as he had at an earlier press conference that a state trooper has been assigned to each individual family of the victims. One new piece of information that Vance supplied in response to a reporter’s question was that investigators found no evidence of an altercation in the school involving the gunman.

Update 10:40 a.m.

NEWTOWN, CT -- Though the gunman’s motive remains unclear, some pieces of the timeline, emergency response and ongoing investigation into Friday’s horrifying shooting came into focus Saturday morning as state police addressed media members at a park near Sandy Hook Elementary School.

All 20 children and six adults who died as a result of wounds suffered at the Newtown school have been identified by family members, Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance said.

Those families are going through “a very difficult and trying time,” Vance said, pleading with the media to respect the survivors’ wishes for privacy. A list that names the deceased will be made available as soon as the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has finished its work. Vance said that the bodies inside the school all have been transported to that office—located in the Hartford suburb of Farmington, about 40 miles from Newtown.

It isn’t clear when the elementary school will reopen. Vance said investigators likely will be on scene for another one to two days. The superintendent of schools in Newtown is expected to address the media Saturday, Vance said.

Echoing what Newtown police told Patch Saturday morning, Vance said investigators are working hard to try and establish the gunman’s motive. Until that investigation is complete, Vance said, no information about its details will be released.

“I have to tell you that there are certain things, that there are simply cards we are holding close to our chest,” he said.

Also echoing Newtown police, Vance confirmed that the gunman appeared to have forced his way into the school by shooting through glass to breach a secure, locked system.

Vance said that “good evidence” was recovered at the school as well as a Sandy Hook home where a woman whose son is believed to be the shooter was found dead Friday.

Multiple news outlets citing police sources have identified 20-year-old Adam Lanza as the gunman. According to NBC News, three weapons used in the shootings—two 9 mm handguns and a rifle—were legally purchased and registered to Lanza’s mother.

“[The school and home] did produce evidence that investigators are able to use,” Vance said.

Vance confirmed that all three weapons were located near the shooter by police responding to the scene Friday.

First responders to the school encountered “several students and staff suffering from gunshot wounds,” according to a press release issued by the state police.

On- and off-duty troopers and Newtown Police Department officers responded to what the world quickly learned was a horrifying, unimaginable scene following a 9:30 a.m. 911 call reporting a possible shooting at the school, Vance said in the press release.

“Upon arrival, teams of Troopers and Officers formed ‘Active Shooter Teams’ and immediately entered the school,” Vance said in the release. “Teams performed rescues of students and staff, removing them to a safe location as they searched for the shooting suspect within the building. The building was evacuated and students walked hand in hand out to a safe location.”

The shooter, whose identity police have not yet confirmed, was found dead inside the school, Vance said. Police have said the gunman shot himself.

Multiple media outlets have identified 20-year-old Adam Lanza as the gunman. Vance also confirmed that a relative of the gunman was found dead at a residence in Sandy Hook. That deceased person is believed to be Lanza’s mother, Nancy. Nancy Lanza, originally reported to be a teacher at the school, is not in fact a teacher there, according to CNN.

In all, 27 people were killed, police said, including 20 children. Among the adults killed were the school’s beloved principal and psychologist.

The identities of all victims have been established, Vance said. Families of those killed have asked that no media members press them for interviews, Vance said.

The bodies of those that perished have been transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner, which is located in Farmington—a suburb of Hartford about 40 miles away.

“State Police Major Crime Investigators are continuing to process the school crime scene, gathering evidence and documenting the entire facility,” Vance said in the press release. “State Police Detectives assisted by Newtown Detectives processed the interior and exterior crime scene. Teams of investigators flooded the community and followed each lead, developing extensive information.”

In addition to the support for families themselves, Vance said, a crisis intervention team is being made available to the larger Newtown community. That team can be reached at 203-270-4283, Vance said.

Original Story

Newtown residents reeling from the massacre of 26 people, including 20 children, at an elementary school Friday are facing questions as they wake up to a living nightmare about the gunman’s motive, weapons and just what happened.

Police are expected to hold a press conference at 8 a.m. and have said that they are “working backwards” to piece together the “why” behind the mass shooting in this normally quiet area. A town of about 27,000, Newtown is 45 miles southwest of Hartford, or about 60 miles northeast of New York City. A 12 p.m. Saturday prayer service is scheduled for St. John's Episcopal Church in Sandy Hook, a neighborhood of the town. 

Newtown police Lt. George Sinko, the department’s public information officer, told Patch Saturday morning that investigators have no sense of what prompted the gunman to act.

“There is no sense of motive at this time,” Sinko said.

Though Connecticut State Police have declined to identify the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter, several news outlets citing police sources have identified 20-year-old Adam Lanza. According to NBC News, three weapons used in the shootings—two 9 mm handguns and a rifle—were legally purchased and registered to Lanza’s mother, whom police say was found dead at her Sandy Hook home.

Parents of schoolchildren at the scene Friday told Patch that the school was locked and that visitors need to be buzzed in. Sinko said Saturday that the gunman appeared to have blasted his way inside.

Police radio dispatches aired by CNN reveal harrowing early communications to emergency responders who arrived at the elementary school around 9:40 a.m. Friday.

"Caller is indicating she thinks that someone is shooting in the building," a dispatcher says. "The front glass has been broken. We are not sure why."

And later: "All units, the individual that I have on the phone is continuing to hear what he believes to be gunfire. Units are responding to Sandy Hook School at this time. The shooting appears to have stopped. The school is in lockdown."

According to Sinko, the gunman shot out glass next to the front door of the school.

“We say that because the window next to the door was shattered. We are still investigating," Sinko said.

Sinko said investigators are sorting through a “tremendous amount of evidence,” adding that police are looking for no other suspects than the suspected gunman who also was found dead inside the school.

Much of the investigators’ work involves checking motor vehicles, Sinko said.

Sinko said that police are not releasing the names of the suspect or children killed.

Patch will update this article with new information from state police and other officials throughout Saturday.


More links to Newtown Patch’s coverage here:

  • Reaction: Sandy Hook School Shooting
  • Police Raid Sandy Hook Home Hours After Shooting
  • [PHOTOS] Newtown School Shooting


Sharon December 17, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Former Newtowner, While my comment may appear to be angry toward you, please, don't take it that way. I'm expressing my anger over him. Not You. God Bless
Sharon December 17, 2012 at 02:31 AM
I think right now, the best thing any community can do for these families who lost their children is to come together for them and prepare dinners for them. When my Mother lost her daughter, and because she had other children to take care of, a neighbor came to my mother's home for several nights with cooked meals. She cooked a casserole dish every night until three days after the funeral of my sister. My Mother said it took a relief off her because she was grieving and had children to take care of. That neighbor who lives somewhere in Maryland nowadays was a wonderful, selfless woman who really helped my Mother. If you're a neighbor, help the victim's and cook for them each night. The parent's need that help.
Sharon December 17, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Bishop, read the Old Testament. I don't believe in the New Testament because the stories are forged from the Old Testament.
Sharon December 17, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Anne, there is no counseling or help for violent criminals like this. They are evil. They sit, they brew and one day they snap. Many violent criminals had mental health counseling and still went off to commit heinous crimes. Fact is, they are angry and they are violent. What we really need to do is come to realize that once a person is identified as dangerous, instead of counsel, we should lock them up in a hospital for the rest of their lives. They are not of compassion. They don't think the way you and I think. They don't have rational thoughts. They hate, the kill.
Eiman Osman December 17, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Hi Lisa, I agree with You 100%,that Adam Lanza targeted the school and not only that ,but the young children I believe his mom was a teacher for them, it is clear that his target was these children! Why ?Because he felt some kind of Jealousy that his Mom loves them more than him.We also do not know how mom was treating her son,may be with Inpatientce which lead him to kill her.Another question: Did she ever threaten to kill him?Or ever showed him the gun while threatening? We do not know.I just blame this kind of mom for having weapons at home while knowing of her son's condition. Actually she killed her students without noticing,because he was been planning for this for a long time,and he started by killing her first. Eiman
Sharon December 17, 2012 at 03:01 AM
JS, that's beautiful and I agree. If anything, every house in Newtown should light up the lights on behalf of the children. Don't let that evil coward take away the lights. Everyone can place a lighted Angel on their lawns in memory of the children and teachers. Don't turn your Christmas lights off.
Ana December 17, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Hey buddy shut your trap and stop spewing negative crap for everyone to see. There is no easy answer for tragedies like this, if there were, I'm sure we would have figured it out and things like this wouldn't happen anymore. Not everyone has the same opinions, not everyone thinks alike, and just because we don't all agree doesn't mean anyone's opinion is less significant then the next, as we are all entitled to them, BUT don't tell people they're being cloy and dramatic spouting "nonsense", when everyone IS affected by this, as these were CHILDREN. We are grieving as a nation, as one. People across the globe are praying for these families. Who are you to tell people to stop when they are giving words full of lament that come from their hearts? This is a time to mourn and weep for the children and teachers lost, and for their families. The way we all pray now, we should pray for each other everyday, to whomever and whatever we choose, with love and kindness in our hearts. The world would be a better place. Much Love & Light to you Newtown, CT, coming from your neighbors in Monroe, CT
Ana December 17, 2012 at 03:20 AM
It might help the children to eventually return for closure. Whether they return for good or once I don't know what would be better. Sometimes you have to face the fear in order to overcome it.
Ana December 17, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Love this
Sharon December 17, 2012 at 08:22 AM
I want to apologize to Bishop and all the readers on here for my insincere comment regarding the father who forgave the coward. I say coward because his real name is of unimportance. I do apologize for my comment. I shouldn't have written that and as for Bishop, I'm feeling very emotional and was commenting out of anger. I'm sorry. I believe very deeply in God and I know it's not my place to say what God wants or doesn't want. I'm sorry everyone.
Occidentalist December 17, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Removal of god in our schools? Are you nuts? We out the words "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. Prior to then, it wasn't there. And by your logic, why hasn't your god stopped the raping and molestation of little boys in churches around the world? Surely your god is allowed in his own churches, right? Why hasn't your god prevented people from being gunned down in churches? And why didn't your god prevent the mass shootings that happened in that Amish school? They "allow" god in their schools. I thought your god was omnipresent? I thought he was everywhere? How can you actually suggest, in all seriousness, that humans can prevent your invisible, omnipresent, skydaddy from "being in school"? You have to suspend all logic and intelligence to believe such a ridiculous notion. Also, I thought your god had a divine plan? That everything that has and will happen is known to him and already predestined to happen according to his plan? So then he knew this was going to happen and did nothing. Why worship such a sick S.O.B? Or maybe he was powerless to stop it. Then why worship such an impotent deity? Stop with your ignorant bronze age superstitions.
Paul Michael December 17, 2012 at 03:27 PM
The talks shouldn't be about guns. We need to talk about how all these shooters were on prescription meds and what the connection is with them. (See: youtu.be/UhO0Pul_FcE)
Kim Swope December 17, 2012 at 03:43 PM
As I read these post my heart breaks not only for the families and the town but for our country. Even now we can not come together and support these people. How sad that once this country could pull together and do great things. Now there is so much fighting and hate that we can't lay aside our petty bickering to send love and support to parents who have had their life forever changed. You all are fighting over guns,god,and the mother of the boy. Do you think anyone from that school is thinking about that? I can tell you as a parent that has lost a child without warning and no goodbye that they are not! They are just trying to find a way to take the next breathe! Stop fighting, then you wonder where kids learn to hate and kill? Take a look at yourself! This country is full of hate and very little love. Why not set the example here. All of you should be ashamed of yourself. There should be nothing but loving messages on these comments for the town to read.
Breanne Rushing December 17, 2012 at 08:49 PM
All of our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to the community of Newtown, Connecticut. Nothing but time can heal so great and so deep a wound, but I promise you that there is hope. There is hope in the children who now carry the spirits of their friends within their hearts, and will one day, with God’s will, come to emulate the heroes that they met today. Someday they will become the first responders, doctors, and especially teachers that protected and guided them today, and they will themselves become beacons of light. And although all of them will carry the scars of this day with them forever, we can only hope and pray that some good will rise from the ashes of this unspeakable tragedy, and that surviving this evil will only have succeeded in making them stronger. But for now, I want all of the families affected to know that you are not alone. That you are right now receiving the love and condolences of an entire nation, and hopefully we can somehow help give you the strength to endure the next days, weeks, and years. And please know that as long as we stand together in the face of darkness like this, those who seek to spread it can NOT and will NEVER win. As long as we allow such tragedy to unite us instead of driving us apart, as communities, as a nation, and as people, there will ALWAYS be hope. God bless all of you.
Joe December 18, 2012 at 12:25 AM
You religious nutcases are just that--nutcases. You have an extreme problem understanding cause and effect. I believe that the killings in Newtown are due to the increased use of cell phones in this country. This assertion is just as likely as the reduction of God in our schools. In other words, both assertions are absolutely ridiculous. God must be one jackoff to punish innocent children and their families for the lack of God in the schools. You people are utterly retarded.
Heather December 18, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Where can you find the footage that shows the gun in the trunk/?
DrGrace J. Gniazdowska PsyD PhD December 18, 2012 at 02:32 AM
I am offering free private grief counseling to the families of victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Please contact me. drgraceg@sensualmentality.com or you may speak with me on yahoo chat graceg1971a I am free to come to your home (like Dr. Hank does on Royal Pains) or you may come to me. I am in Trumbull. Please contact me for information. Dr Grace
Linda Riel December 18, 2012 at 03:39 PM
the removal of gosd from our schools has nothing at all to do with the mind of a madman. he was evil, plain and simple. Stop using religion as a reason WHy. There is no reason why except he had access to guns. we all have the right to believe or not belive. A GOOD GOD would not have allowed this ro happen, plain and simple
J. R. Fenner December 18, 2012 at 07:57 PM
unbelievable "about the cops" really?? talk about shootin from the hip? where is your reasining??
Occidentalist December 19, 2012 at 02:57 PM
In Australia, they have no god in schools. In the last 10 years there have been 149 deaths from school shootings in the USA. In Australia, there was ZERO. Some may point out that in 1996 Australia tightened it's gun control laws, due to the Port Arthur Massacre, and since then there has not been another mass shooting. So which is it? Does god's absence from school have no effect on school shootings? Or do gun control laws actually work? Or worse still, perhaps it might be both?
Juanita December 19, 2012 at 10:29 PM
So, some of you actually believe that because the public school systems decided to remove prayer from schools, but allowing anyone who wishes, to pray whenever they want, God decided to punish the system by sending in an idiot armed with automatic weapons to kill 20 children and 6 adults. Not the God I serve. You would do well to remember that yes God is all powerful but the devel (a fallen angel) is also very powerful. Otherwise there would not be so much evil and destruction in the world. I don't have an opinion about whether or not prayer should be in public schools but I do know that if there were laws to prevent ordinary citizens from purchasing automatic and semi-automatic weapons, this tragedy might not have happened. I know gun owners believe in thier weapons; they hunt; they want to protect themselves. My father was a hunter. He killed lots of deer, rabbits, squirels, you name it. But he never owned an asault weapon.
Maria Pritchard December 20, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Sharon, I am dismayed with some of your comments. How can you be so disrespectful and down right nasty about the father of one of the murder victims??? Forgive me if I'm wrong but I have not heard him express sympathy for the killer. He expressed sympathy for the killer's family - of whom, there is no reason to believe that they are guilty of anything. As for the killer's brother being "demented" - do you have any evidence of this other than how he might or might not have looked to you on television?! Please think about what you write for heavens sakes - the father of that girl deserves admiration not condemnation. I agree with you on the killer though - I would not like to see him receive a decent burial and as someone who has come across individuals with severe mental health problems through my legal and CJS work, I agree 100% with your assessment. We are not talking about depressed individuals here or those who have suffered mental breakdowns; sociopaths live and breathe hate, blame everyone else for all their problems, lack empathy with others, take absolutely no responsibility for their problems, snap at the merest slights and harbour grudges over things you or I would regard as trivial. As far as we know, there is no evidence he was bullied and we know he received a privileged background - so save your sympathy for the victims. These people should be locked up in institutions if they are deemed a threat to others - end of.
travelbug December 20, 2012 at 09:41 PM
those little ones suffered as he watched? why didnt he shoot himself first? I wish we can exhume is body and shoot every piece of his body. How can those police officers go forward seeing the horrific scene of listless bodies covered in blood? the only survivor watched all this
Maria DePaulo December 27, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Exactly! Too too many holes in this story of a lone crazed shooter. There is evidence on the police scanner of 2 shooters. Wake up people. The truth does matter!
Maria DePaulo December 27, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Thank you for your honesty with regards to Adam. I have read many of the so-called media reports about him and his mom. They just don't add up. The police scanner recording (online) clearly states 2 shooters. There are 2 eye-witnesses to them too on youtube. Many assumptions have been made about this killer. All anyone saw was a masked shooter. I would like more proof (photo of Adam dead like we saw of Columbine shooters, please). From my research doesn't seem like Adam could've pulled this off in a few minutes.
Maria DePaulo December 27, 2012 at 09:21 PM
You are right ...whole story stinks. Oh, now we will have no further info for months according to Lt Vance. Show us some proof of Adam being the killer. 6ft 110lbs highly disfunctional. Really?
JBarnes January 04, 2013 at 04:35 AM
Well Said! Thumpers and Born-agains have lost touch reality just as much as this depraved SOB did. And for those religious extremists/tin-foil-hat-wearers who have shown your ignorance through this tread, I DO practice a Christian religion, but actually am a thoughtful, moderate, well-read one - not one of you raving, rapture-seeking freaks.
christy pickard January 12, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Beautiful little angels im soooo sorry that your little lifes had to end this way:(:(:( i can only imagine your fear that morning.why did this have to happen:( those little babies are now lost looking for mommy and daddy! So so sad i have five children and two in first grade i can only imagine how devistated the family members are. Its something i dont ever ever want want to enduer.god bless all of the victims and there familys mmmuah!!! Kisses.
robert david richins January 24, 2013 at 09:06 PM
I am devastated by the terrible loss of inocent lives. I blaim only one person and one gun.why do anything else.one day we will never foget doesnt errase all of the important things done by guns all of the million good things that today of course have been overshadowed. More important than guns is abortion how can a civilized culture allow abortion homelessness inadaquate education. We must rise above hatered for anything. Guns are not the problem or the solution.there are some things we have to tolerate. There are some things we cant change.
R Morg March 14, 2013 at 03:10 PM
Please email to publicsafetymail@cga.ct.gov Last meeting is today in Hartford and the NRA and gun manufacturers are in full force. The gun companies have a mandatory day at the Capitol with busloads. We have a silent majority. Please send your thoughts today!! 3/14/13 Testimony First and foremost - I support the 2nd Amendment and a citizen's right to bear arms. Today marks the three-month anniversary of an unthinkable gun violence tragedy in CT. What better time to take the necessary steps to enact common sense gun control and gun safety legislation? Today you will meet for one last time: please be a part of the opportunity to make a historical change for the better. Please enact comprehensive, meaningful and enforceable gun control and gun safety legislation. Most importantly, please pass legislation to ban on the purchase and possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines of more than ten rounds. Now is the time to change the existing climate of gun violence that has developed this country, but this can’t happen without effective and enforceable checks and balances. Please do what it takes to enact desperately needed gun and safety controls.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something