Photographs released of the young victims of Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School reveal the 20 smiling faces of the innocent boys and girls whose lives were so tragically cut short.
Newly released details about the shooting massacre that has rocked a Connecticut town paints a picture of merciless gunman that spared no mercy when he shot each of victims multiple times.
Eight boys and 12 girls all between the ages of six and seven were murdered in the senseless violence that has left the quiet New England community overwhelmed with grief.
Slaughtered: (Clockwise from top left) Catherine V. Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Ana Marquez-Green, James Mattioli, Olivia Engel, Dylan Hockley, Charlotte Bacon and Grace McDonnell, all aged six to seven, were killed
Lanza murdered 20 school children, all aged 6 and 7, including Ana Marquez-Green, left, and Jesse Lewis, right
Six-year-olds James Mattioli (left) and Jessica Rekos (right) were also among the victims
GONE TOO SOON: VICTIMS OF THE SANDY HOOK SCHOOL MASSACRE
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6
Rachel Davino, 29
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Lauren Russeau, 20
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27
The faces of the innocent victims began to circulate as the families grapple with the horror that unfolded on Friday, when gunman Adam Lanza killed 26 in a shooting rampage at the school.
The first parent of a child victim spoke out in an emotional press conference on Saturday.
Robbie Parker, the father of Emilie Parker, 6, addressed the press on Saturday, holding back tears as he remembered the precious six-year-old, the oldest of his three daughters.
The grieving father remembered the beautiful gifts and talents endowed to the little girl by her heavenly father.
In a remarkable act, Mr Parker expressed his condolences to the family of the gunman and thanked friends and strangers for their support and love.
Friends of the Parker family have set up a Facebook page to pay tribute to little Emilie and have established a remembrance fund
Six-year-old Noah Pozner was also killed in the shooting on Friday, with Rabbi Shaul Praver of Adath Israel in Newtown, Conn., saying that the boy was shot execution style.
‘His little body could not endure so many bullets like that,’ Rabbi Praver said on Saturday.
The spiritual leader said he was comforting the mother of the child, who will be laid to rest on Sunday.
Ana Marquez-Greene, six, was killed when the shooter opened fire on children and teachers at 9.30am on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The little girl and her older brother had attended Linden Christian School nearby, before moving with their parents to Newtown in July and enrolling at Sandy Hook. Both children were inside the school when the shooting began.
Ana Marquez-Greene’s father is Canadian jazz musician Jimmy Greene. The distraught father told MailOnline today that he couldn’t find the words to express the loss of his daughter Ana.
The musician took to his Facebook page asking for prayers as the family works ‘through this nightmare.
‘We’re reminded how much we’re loved and supported on this earth and by our Father in heaven. As much as she’s needed here and missed by her mother, brother and me, Ana beat us all to paradise. I love you sweetie girl,’ he wrote.
Another victim has been named as six-year-old Jesse Lewis. His father Neil Heslin told the New York Post that he dropped his son off at school that morning and planned to return in the afternoon to join parents in the holiday tradition of making gingerbread houses.
Grace McDonnell, six, who was also killed, has been described as ‘utterly adorable’ and ‘full of life’. She had blue eyes and hair that was so blonde that friends thought she looked like a ‘little doll’.
Her parents are going through ‘indescribable’ pain, MailOnline has learned.
In a chilling twist, Lynn McDonnell, 45, a housewife, and Christopher, 49, a business executive, live in a $500,000 detached home in Sandy Hook, Connecticut that is just one street away from where alleged shooter Adam Lanza lived.
Six-year-olds Charlotte Bacon (left) and Olivia Engel (right) were among those killed at the shooting on Friday
A six-year-old boy from Britain was also one of the victims of the school shooting. It is believed the boy moved with his parents from Hampshire to the U.S. two years ago.
Little Olivia Engel, was killed on Friday – a day that began with excitement as the six-year-old looked forward to making a gingerbread house after school.
A friend of the girl’s family, Dan Merton, told the Associated Press how Olivia ‘loved attention…she had perfect manners, perfect table manners. She was the teacher’s pet, the line leader.’
‘Her only crime,’ he said, was ‘being a wiggly, smiley 6-year-old.’
7-year-old Chase Kowalski, left, and Grace McDonnell, 6, were killed in the tragedy
Other victims that have been pictured include six-year-olds James Mattioli, Jessica Rekos and Charlotte Bacon and seven-year-old Chase Kowalski.
Outside Saint Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown, Connecticut, mourners left teddy bears, flowers and lit candles for victims.
Newtown was ranked the fifth safest city in America by the website NeighborhoodScout.com based on 2011 crime statistics.
‘This wonderful town that we all love for its peace, beauty, the great schools – all of that – has become Columbine,’ said Julie Maxwell Shull, a sixth-grade teacher at Reed Intermediate School, referring to the high school that was site of a 1999 shooting in Colorado.
Many people who live in the wealthy, wooded town commute to New York City, about 80 miles away were trying to come to gripes with the unthinkable incident.
‘We came here because it was going to be a good, safe community for our kids,’ said Catherine Hunyadi, as she and her husband wiped tears from their eyes. ‘You don’t send your kids to school thinking something like this might happen.’
Adam Lanza, circled in red, in a photograph of his high school science club taken five years ago when the murderer was 15 years old
Adam Lanza, left, and his mother Nancy who taught him how to use a gun and who was found murdered at home
Lanza reportedly got into an altercation with members of staff including Principal Dawn Hochsprung, left, and teacher Victoria Soto
School psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, and teacher Lauren Rousseau, 30, were shot dead by Adam Lanza while trying to save their students
Reports have also emerged that the gunman, Adam Lanza had visited Sandy Hook Elementary the day before Friday’s massacre during which he was involved in an altercation with four members of staff at the school – three of whom are now dead.
The fourth teacher – and only survivor of the altercation - wasn’t at school yesterday and is currently being interviewed by investigators. It hasn’t been revealed what the argument was over or if it was reported to authorities.
The staff member’s testimony might be an ‘important piece of information’ for discerning motive in this case, reports NBC.
While initial reports had suggested school principal Mrs Hochsprung buzzed Lanza into the building – bypassing the newly-installed security system – police have confirmed that the shooter forced his way in.
Adam Lanza opened fire on Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which teaches children aged 5 to 10. He murdered 26 people at the school before turning the gun on himself, as well as killing one other person – his mother – at another nearby site.
Investigators said they have found ‘some very good evidence’ to explain what drove gunman Adam Lanza, 20, to slaughter 20 children all aged six and seven and six adults at the Connecticut elementary school.
Four teachers, who all died heroes trying to save their students, have been named as Principal Dawn Hochsprung, 47, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, first grade teacher Victoria Soto, 27, and Lauren Rousseau, 30.
Anne Marie Murphy, 52, was also killed in the shooting. The mother-of-four served as a teacher’s aide.
She taught art and special education, according to the The Wall Street Journal.
‘It was a terrible tragedy,’ her husband Mike Murphy said.
‘She just tried to protect her kids.’
Rachel Davino, 29, was also among the teachers killed.
‘Our investigators at the crime scene … did produce some very good evidence in this investigation that our investigators will be able to use in, hopefully, painting the complete picture as to how – and more importantly why – this occurred,’ Connecticut State Police Lieutenant Paul Vance told a news conference Saturday morning.
‘We’re hopeful it will paint a complete picture,’ he said.
All the bodies were removed from the school overnight and the medical examiner released the names of the victims on Saturday.
A young woman places flowers at a memorial near the Sandy Hook Elementary School following Friday’s shooting that has left 20 young children dead
Police have assigned a trooper to support each victim’s family in the days ahead. Vance asked reporters to respect the families’ grief and privacy.
‘This is an extremely heartbreaking thing for them to endure,’ said Vance.
It is expected that investigators will take another two days to process the school crime scene where it is believed Lanza fired as many as 100 rounds from his guns.
‘It’s going to be a slow, painstaking process,’ said Vance.
The adult woman found at the secondary crime scene was the shooter’s mother, Nancy Lanza.
Nancy Lanza legally owned a Sig Sauer and a Glock, both handguns of models commonly used by police, and a military-style Bushmaster .223 M4 carbine, according to law enforcement officials who also believe Adam Lanza used at least some of those weapons.
Connecticut State Police Lieutenant Paul Vance said all the bodies were removed from the school overnight and the names of the victims are expected to be released Saturday
Nancy Lanza was an avid gun collector who once showed him a ‘really nice, high-end rifle’ that she had purchased, said Dan Holmes, owner of a landscaping business who recently decorated her yard with Christmas garlands and lights. ‘She said she would often go target shooting with her kids.’
Grief-stricken members of the community tied white balloons to the sign for Sandy Hook school today in honor of all those who lost their lives.
The gunman’s father, Peter Lanza, issued a statement late Saturday, saying the family was ‘in a state of disbelief.’
‘Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy. No words can truly express how heartbroken we are.’
‘We too are asking why. We have cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so. Like so many of you, we are saddened, but struggling to make sense of what has transpired,’ the statement said.
President Barack Obama urged Americans on Saturday to join in solidarity as they mourned the victims, saying the hearts of parents across the country were ‘heavy with hurt.’
Obama, in his weekly radio and Internet address, called for ‘meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this,’ but stopped short of specifically calling for tighter gun-control laws.
The president wiped away tears in a television address on Friday, telling the nation, ‘Our hearts are broken.’
The president will be traveling to the Connecticut town on Sunday at 7pm at an interfaith vigil for families of the victims and other students from Sandy Hook Elementary School,
The holiday season tragedy was the second shooting rampage in the United States this week and the latest in a series of mass killings this year.
It revived a debate about gun-control in a country with a flourishing firearms culture and a strong lobby that has discouraged most politicians from any major efforts to address the easy availability of guns and ammunition.
People in Newtown mourned the dead in community vigils on Friday night, including one at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, which was packed with an overflow crowd outside.
‘We opened the windows (of the church) so people could just hear and feel they could be part of it,’ Monsignor Robert Weiss told MSNBC on Saturday, adding, ‘the worst days are ahead.’
‘I’m sure this morning when they woke up and realized there was an empty bed in their house, it’s becoming more and more real to them,’ Weiss said of the parents of the young victims.
The chaos struck as children gathered in their classrooms for morning events. The shootings took place in two rooms, police said. Witnesses reported hearing dozens of shots; some said as many as 100 rounds.
Former classmates of the shooter remembered him as a quiet loner – someone who dressed more formally than other students, often wearing khaki pants, button-down shirts and at times, a pocket protector.
‘(His mother) pushed him really hard to be smarter and work harder in school,’ said Tim Arnone, 20, who first met Lanza at Sandy Hook.
Another former classmate, who declined to be identified, described Lanza as smart but without many friends.
He said he met Lanza when both boys joined the local Boy Scout troop.
At that time, he said Lanza was a big fan of Japanese culture, collecting Pokemon cards and playing the PlayStation video game Dynasty Warriors, a weapons-based animated fighting game released in the late 1990s.
‘He was a very quiet kid,’ the friend said. ‘I remember being his only friend in elementary school. He was always a really nice kid, very polite.’
The death toll exceeded that of one of the most notorious U.S. school shootings, the 1999 rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where two teenagers murdered 13 students and staff before killing themselves.