AS INVESTIGATORS continue to seek answers to the carnage at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman killed 26 on Friday, officials finally released the names and ages of the dead, details that gave no comfort to this stunned community.
It was revealed that all the children killed were aged either six or seven and that all were shot more than once with a high-powered military-style semi-automatic rifle.
Connecticut’s chief medical examiner, Wayne Carver, said he had been a medical examiner for about a third of a century and the massacre at the Sandy Hook school was the worst homicide case he had ever seen.
Of the seven autopsies he performed, the number of gunshot wounds per person ranged from three to 11, he said.
”I believe everybody was hit more than once. This is a very devastating set of injuries.”
Five school staff died at the scene, where the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, is thought to have taken his own life.
Lanza’s mother, Nancy, who was earlier thought to have taught at the school, was found shot dead on Friday in the nearby home she shared with her son.
As Newtown, a pretty town of 27,000, absorbed the awful new details, its grieving continued. Flags and posters of love and support for the children, their teachers and their families were hung in shop windows.
Makeshift memorials sprung up on street corners and in front of churches and community buildings. Locals gathered to speak at the memorials, some in pairs, some in small groups, sometimes embracing, sometimes in prayer.
At the sign at the end of the street leading to the school, blocked off by police since the shooting, many came to lay flowers, toys and candles.
There Calliope Ceballos, a five-year-old student of a nearby school, held her mother Judith’s hand as they placed feathered angel’s wings on the growing pile of offerings.
”They are angels now,” Judith said. ”My daughter told me yesterday she did not want to go to school on Monday. This has affected us all.
”Should I send my daughter to school on Monday? If you drop them off on Monday morning, will you see them again?”
Also among the new details to emerge about the attack and its immediate aftermath, police confirmed Lanza had not been admitted to the school as earlier reported but forced his way in.
According to reports, Sandy Hook’s principal, Dawn Hochsprung, and psychologist Mary Sherlach were among the first to die, having run to confront Lanza after he shot his way through the front entrance.
It was revealed that the killing took only minutes, perhaps a quarter of an hour.
Newtown’s local paper, The Newtown Bee, described how when the shooting subsided the teachers gathered their children into ”trains”, each child with their hands on the shoulders of the person in front.
They were told that only the locomotive, the teacher leading each train, was allowed to keep their eyes open. This way they were spared sight as they ran through the bloodied corridors and up the road to the firehouse, where rolls were taken before the survivors were reunited with parents who had already rushed to the scene.
Parent Robbie Parker later went to the firehouse to speak to reporters about his six-year-old daughter, Emilie, who did not return with any of the trains.
The world is a better place because Emilie was in it, he said.
”I’m so blessed to be her dad. She never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for those around her.”
To the family of his daughter’s murderer, he said: ”I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you.”
Earlier in the day, Caroline James, who is in her 60s and has lived in the area all her life, sat in a diner drinking tea with her friend Karin Aurelia.
”I just keep thinking of all those little bodies on the ground. How did he do that?” she said quietly.
After the sun set and the temperature fell to freezing, hundreds gathered in the St Rose of Lima Catholic Church, which is affiliated with the Sandy Hook primary school.
For the first time, the army of media that has camped around the village and been met with endless patience was asked not to attend. During the service, news broke that President Barack Obama would visit Newtown to meet family members and attend one of the many services scheduled.
It seems it will be some days before Newtown is left to grieve quietly.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.