First Funerals Being Held For US School Rampage Victims

Posted December 17th, 2012 at 12:50 pm (UTC-5)
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A small town in the northeastern United States is beginning the grim task of holding funerals for the 20 children and six adults killed in a shooting rampage at an elementary school.

Funerals for two six-year-old boys are being held Monday, the first for those gunned down at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. The children killed in the attack Friday were six- and seven-years old.

A state police official, Lieutenant J. Paul Vance, said the school and a secondary site are being held as crime scenes. He said authorities are examining evidence and interviewing witnesses.

“State police major crime detectives have been working 24 hours a day since this tragedy occurred and will continue to do so indefinitely as they continue to answer questions surrounding this tragedy and how and why it occurred.

No motive has been given for the attack.

President Barack Obama joined mourners at a vigil Sunday in Newtown, telling then they are not alone in their grief. He vowed to use his power to prevent another such tragedy, noting the rampage was the fourth U.S. mass shooting during his presidency, almost four years ago.

“We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end, and to end them we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world and prevent every single act of violence in our society. But that can't be an excuse for inaction.”

All the adult victims were women, and included the school's principal, who reportedly tried to stop the shooter, and a teacher who is credited with saving lives by putting herself between students and the attacker.

Authorities say the killer was Adam Lanza, who died at the scene of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Connecticut's chief medical examiner said the victims were killed at close range by multiple gunshots from an assault-style rifle. According to law enforcement officials, Lanza's mother legally owned the rifle used in the massacre as well as two handguns reportedly found near his body.

Friday's attack was the second worst school shooting in U.S. history. The worst occurred in 2007, when a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia. Before that, the deadliest U.S. school shooting was the 1999 rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where two teenagers killed 13 students and staff before killing themselves.