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Shooting at Connecticut Elementary School; Shooting Suspect Dead at the Scene; Second Man Found in Woods Behind School; More Than 20 Casualties in Shooting, Mostly Children.

Aired December 14, 2012 - 13:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: So we went to the closet in the gym and we sat there for a little while. Then the police like were knocking on the door, and they're like, we're evacuating people, we're evacuating people. We ran out. They're police at every door leading us down this way, this way. Quick, quick, come on. We ran down to the firehouse. There's a man pinned down to the ground with handcuffs on, and we thought that was a victim.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: One of the eyewitnesses there, just a little boy describing what he heard and saw during the shooting.

I want to go to another affiliate of ours, WCBS, for more.

UNIDENTIFIED PARENT: My son was in the gym when it happened. He heard the gunshots. It's going to be one of those things when they're trying to understand what happened. When we tell them what happened in detail, it's going to make it much worse.

UNIDENTIFIED WCBS CORRESPONDENT: Did they give you any information? Was it an adult?

UNIDENTIFIED PARENT: I don't know what happened outside of that. I haven't had any information other than what people are speculating. We're gathering around here.

UNIDENTIFIED WCBS ANCHOR: Listening to parents after parents as they tell the tale of what their children had been through that morning after witnessing an unimaginable tragedy in a quaint town. This is Newtown, Connecticut. We're looking at the parents who are bringing their children home throughout the morning. This has been happening, and afternoon as well. A number of parents are still going to this firehouse that we're looking at. Their children are there. Hundreds were evacuated to that facility.

UNIDENTIFIED WCBS ANCHOR: Actually, we just saw that gentleman that had been spoken to earlier standing there with the green shirt and the white baseball cap. And you can see the proximity now from there, through the woods, over here, to the elementary school. That's the path that the children took from the school to the firehouse when they took cover. You just look at those parents when we were looking over at the firehouse and embracing their children. Not even sure at that moment if they realized how lucky they were that they were still able to hold on to their children after what transpired here.

UNIDENTIFIED WCBS ANCHOR: The shooter as opposed to -- the information we have in regard to the shooter, 20 years old, killed. Apparently, had two guns, and with ties to the school. Not sure what those ties are, whether they have children at the school or went to that school, but we are awaiting the details in regards to that shooter. The second person taken into custody, a man wearing a black jacket and camouflage pants, escorted out of the woods by police personnel, and handcuffed and taken to the police station, possibly with charges against that person. We're awaiting word.

UNIDENTIFIED WCBS ANCHOR: Yes, we are. We're also awaiting Lou Young. We're going to talk to him right now. He has been on the scene, and we'll see what he has, what he's gathered since we last talked to him -- Lou.

LOU YOUNG, WCBS CORRESPONDENT: Rob, we're here on Riverside Drive, leading up to the school. You see folks come being back here, and now the faces of the people coming back. Early on, they were filled with relief because they realized that their loved ones had made it through this horror. But now the depth of the tragedy, just being there in proximity to it, is affecting them. We've seen some very, very grief- stricken and affected and tear-streaked faces down the road here.

I spoke a few moments ago with Maureen Carinz (ph), who was a nurse at Danbury Hospital, who rushed to the scene when she heard about the shooting. She arrived when the lightly injured people were removed and wanted to see if they could help others. There were 20 children inside that she was not able to help. All of them dead. And she describes being present when the parents were given the awful news. She is just shattered. Listen.


YOUNG: I see you've been crying.


YOUNG: Is it because of what you saw?

CARINZ (ph): No, they wouldn't let us in the building. One of the cops, you know, the worse thing he'd seen in his entire career, but it was when they told all these parents waiting for children to come out. They thought that they were, you know, still alive. There's 20 parents that were just told that their children are dead. It was awful.

YOUNG: You were unable to do anything?

CARINZ (ph): Right. We knew at one point they asked the ambulances to leave, that they didn't need them, and we knew that that wasn't a good sign.

(END VIDEO CLIP) YOUNG: She was crying. Her teenage son was also crying, just having witnessed that outpouring of grief and disbelief, the parents hearing their worst nightmares come true, that their children had been killed.

The latest numbers from CBS News, we're reporting 26 dead total, 18 of them children. A short time ago, I'm told that police found two adults alive in the school hiding in a closet. They'd stayed hidden and did not move and police found them in the last hour or so.

That is a situation here that how desperate the situation was. People hid. People tried to save themselves. People were saved. People witnessed terrible tragedy and terrible loss. This is going to be with this community for a very long time.

We're live in Newtown, Connecticut, Fairfield County. Lou Young, CBS 2 News.

UNIDENTIFIED WCBS ANCHOR: Hey, Lou, have you heard anything about a second suspect being taken into custody in the woods just away from the school there shortly after the incident?


UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: What did you hear? How did you first hear about it?

UNIDENTIFIED PARENT: I got a -- they have a -- it's an alert through the school.



UNIDENTIFIED PARENT: That they got. Your parents sign up for it. I just got a message saying from the superintendent that there was up an unconfirmed shooting and everybody is in lockdown, so.


UNIDENTIFIED PARENT: I was like, oh, my gosh. Then I had no idea that it was her school. I'm like -- it just seemed so unreal. My heart is in a million pieces right now for parents and the children and for everybody because it's -- who would ever think in a small town and people -- you know, I mean, the school is locked.


MALVEAUX: We're going to affiliate WCBS for more information, what they're learning on the ground as well. Let's listen in.

YOUNG: That is what that woman was going through. She showed up ready to do her job, but there was nothing she could do. The people that were able to be helped removed from the scene. She watched in horror and is going home to try and process that.

UNIDENTIFIED WCBS ANCHOR: You're absolutely right, Lou. You're absolutely right. That is the worst thing that can happen when you set up the triage to do the first aid, and it's simply beyond that. We have seen it.


UNIDENTIFIED WCBS ANCHOR: Lou, we understand that there's grief counselors -- there are grief counselors at that firehouse now to deal with this unimaginable tragedy.

YOUNG: Yes. I mean, I'll always hear that grief counselors. I'm not sure what you can say to a parent in a situation like that. I don't know what that's like. I hope I never have to find out firsthand, but there are professionals who are standing by trying to walk these people through the initial processes of this crushing grief that they must be feeling, and especially at this time of year, especially children, especially the location, the incongruity of it all is staggering.

UNIDENTIFIED WCBS ANCHOR: Lou Young, thanks so much.

Mystery, mystery, who is this 20-something-year-old person with ties to the school who would perpetrate such an act.

UNIDENTIFIED WCBS ANCHOR: The numbers, CBS News has confirmed, at least 26 are dead, at least 18 of them are children. We're hearing of those parents who went to reunite with their children at the firehouse and were told their children were killed. 20 parents were at the firehouse to get that information. 18 children killed. Mothers and fathers there.

We saw so many reunite, embrace as their children ran to them, as we look at video from earlier, as parents were taking their children away from the firehouse. They had been evacuated from the school under state police protection after those gunshots were fired just after 9:30 this morning.

We're looking at pictures of parents and their children as they are headed home. Maybe some of them not knowing the severity of the situation. Others knowing this. This was a little earlier on the scene just outside the firehouse.

So the latest information we have in regard to those involved with this shooting, we have a 20-year-old shooter that we know died at the scene, and a second suspect is in custody. Not sure of the involvement with the shooting, but we also got word that a man did come out of the woods in handcuffs, escorted by police, wearing camouflage, and looking into one parent's eyes and saying, "I did not do it." That person is at a police station being questioned at this house and possibly facing charges.

UNIDENTIFIED WCBS ANCHOR: That was according to a witness on the scene who actually saw the police, he says, taking this person out and claiming his innocence, professing his innocence.

UNIDENTIFIED WCBS ANCHOR: Two semi-automatic handguns were retrieved from the scene. We heard from some witnesses that said that they heard dozens of rounds, possibly 100 rounds being fired inside that school. There are several buildings inside that school. Some children were in the gym. They could hear the gunfire. Others were in their classrooms. And we heard of a story of two young girls, possibly first graders, who saw the gunman go into their classroom and shoot their teacher.

MALVEAUX: Now, for the very latest.

ROY OCCHIOGROSSO, SPOKESMAN FOR GOVERNOR MALLOY: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Roy Occhiogrosso. I work for Governor Malloy.

As you can imagine, the governor is horrified by what's happened. He is meeting with the families right now. His chief concern is to get the families the information they need as quickly as possible. That's why he's not here.

I'm going to introduce Lieutenant Paul Vance from the state police, who will talk a little bit about what's known so far.

We understand that you are all interested in information. We'd like to get you that information as quickly as possible, but the governor's chief concern is making sure that the families have information as quickly as possible, and were he is now.

This is Lieutenant Paul Vance from the state police.

LT. J. PAUL VANCE, CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE: Good afternoon. I will give you some very basic and brief information as we know it now. We will set up regular press briefings as appropriate.

Just after 9:30 this morning, Newtown police received a 911 call for an emergency at the elementary school. Newtown P.D., upon obtaining information as to the situation, contacted to the Connecticut State Police and requested assistance from state police and surrounding local police departments. On and off duty troopers responded to the school, and with Newtown police immediately upon arrival, entered the school and began a complete active shooter's search of the building. That included checking every door, every crack, every crevice, every portion of the school. Our main objective was to evacuate as quickly and efficiently as possible any and all students and faculty in the school. The entire school was searched. That was accomplished. A staging area was set up. The students and staff were put into that staging area, and soon thereafter, the children and staff were reunited with parents and loved ones.

There were several fatalities at the scene, both students and staff. There's no information relative to that that's being released at this time until we have made complete and proper notification.

The shooter is deceased inside the building. There's a great deal of work that is undertaken immediately upon locating the shooter, and that is there's a great deal of search warrant activity, there's a great deal of law enforcement activity both in and out of state to ensure we cover all the bases relative to that specific individual. Suffice it to say the scene is secure. The state police major crime squad and Newtown Police Department, Danbury state's attorney and many agencies are working together to answer all the questions surrounding exactly what happened.

As Mr. Occhiogrosso said, we will keep you briefed and informed on a regular basis. We'll put everything out via our web site with these press conferences.

I'll turn it back over to Mr. Occhiogrosso right now.

OCCHIOGROSSO: The governor took a call from President Obama a little while ago, who was calling to express his condolences and condolences on behalf of the nation and pledge whatever resources the federal government can bring to bear to assist the families and to assist in the investigation.

We will get you information as soon as we can get the families the information. That's where the governor is. At some point later today, the governor will be here, and we will set up regular briefings.

Thank you.


MALVEAUX: Just getting the very latest update there. A word from Lieutenant Paul Vance, as well as Roy Occhiogrosso. He's a spokesman for the governor office.

Let's listen in.

VANCE: -- and we'll come back for another briefing as quickly as we can.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: But you can say the public is not in danger?

VANCE: The public is not in danger. That's correct.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Lieutenant, everything here, right? All the briefings here?

VANCE: Right here.


MALVEAUX: A final word. The public is not in danger, that the site has been secured.

We want to go over just some of the things we have learned. Not a lot of detail here. Certainly, there are various and mixed conflicting reports on the number of fatalities from various networks. CNN can only confirm that as many as 20 people have been killed in this school shooting. Of those -- OK. I've got a CNN producer on the phone, I'm told with, David Ariosto, with some information.

David, what can you tell us?

DAVID ARIOSTO, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): Hi, Suzanne. I'm right out in front of the elementary school right now. This wooded area that basically surrounds the school. And parents are walking in and out of this firehouse used as a makeshift shelter in which they're tending those injured and ushering those away by way of ambulances. There's about four ambulances on the scene here.

And I've spoken to a number of the parents, and apparently what transpired was that earlier this morning many of them received an automated school from the school superintendent indicating there was a shooting. It wasn't clear which school at that point the shooting occurred, so many of them, panic stricken, ran to their nearest schools where some of the loved ones are held.

Several have since now emerged. Some are almost inconsolable given how upset they were. One woman came walking up the street screaming why, why? Not indicating what happened. Others were clutching their children and taking them away from the school as fast as they could. That's the scene here, one of heavy security. We've got ATF, FBI, several law enforcement officers that are basically clad in tactical gear with weapons drawn and wielding assault rifles. And all the while, you have parents streaming in and out of this area clutching their children and basically just trying to get away from the scene. It's a media circus in which many of the reporters here trying to get a sense of what has happened. But most parents are just essentially looking to get as far away from the scene as possible.

MALVEAUX: David, we heard that the governor is meeting with the families, the parents of those whose children have been killed. Have you gotten a sense of where the governor, where those parents are on the scene where you are and whether or not you've seen some parents who have received the devastating news?

ARIOSTO: We have. Most of the parents that are stricken with some of that devastating news, that more fatal news are holed up in that firehouse. There are at least several dozen people inside, several parents. On occasion, you'll see people coming out and sort of almost inconsolable as I mentioned before. It seems that that firehouse continues to be sort of the safe house as authorities in the region really start to try to pin down this area.

Well, it doesn't seem to be as active a scene as it did earlier. They're still going house to house, still checking buildings. It's not clear this is an entirely secure scene. That said, you have parents, like I mentioned before, really trying to get as far away as possible.

MALVEAUX: David, what are those parents saying. They were alerted there was a shooting that took place. Are these parents satisfied that they got information in a timely way? Are they despondent or confused?

ARIOSTO: I think you hit it on the head there. Despondent would be the operative word right now. It's clearly one of a parent's most feared prospects here, of getting news of this sort, particularly while they're at work, that their children are in harm's way.

Most of the parents, the few that we actually got a chance to speak to, were just relieved that their children were all right. But the resounding feeling that one really gets from being down here is sort of a sense of not knowing what transpired and what may continue to be transpiring. It's not clear this is an entirely secure scene. At the same time, it's one of those things that it really, really can't be put into words how terrible this must be for some family members. So as their sort of wiping tears away from their eyes, talking into cell phones with family members and friends, recanting a scene they witnessed inside the firehouse and talking with children, who had to be huddled into classrooms as police and teachers huddled them towards the back of the room as this shooting took place.

It's just -- it's a scene of shock, dismay, and it's not clear what's going to happen next.

MALVEAUX: David, it's kind of hard sometimes to gauge, you know, what kids are going through and what they're feeling at the time. We've seen some children who have described what they saw. What do you get from some of the children who have left with their parents?

ARIOSTO: I talked to one parent with a child. For obvious reasons, those parents don't want to have their children speaking, particularly after an incident like this. But in many of the -- it seems at least from what this child was saying that many of the children here don't really have a good sense of what transpired today. It was scary. It was frightening for many of them. And this little girl I spoke to was saying that many, many people in her classroom were crying as they were huddled into the back room of this school building. She was in a third-grade class, actually, as police barged in. And teachers just tried to in a sense get a good sense of what was happening and tried to protect them. But it's confusing for them, and probably understandably so.

What really happens next for them, I'm sure the parents are going to go home and try to explain as best they can. You talk to parents here and they really say their heart goes out to those who may still be holed up in the firehouse trying to come to terms with what has happened.

MALVEAUX: David, there have been so many different reports about how many people have been injured or killed. I would imagine that would be very, very frustrating for people on the ground who just don't understand the magnitude. They don't know just how significant this is. Is there a sense that people just want more information?

ARIOSTO: I think that's the driving thing here. Everybody is looking for more information. You have all these different groups working together, you have FBI that is here, the ATF, state and local police. And you know there is a sense of trying to get a handle on the situation. At the same time, it is not clear who this person was, if there was just one person, whether that there is still a danger out there. I understand there is -- authorities will be holding a press conference in short order to maybe answer some of those questions.

But, you know, a scene like this is really probably leaves more unanswered questions than we could ever get. How a shooting could occur inside an elementary school is just -- you know, it is just one of those things that -- you cover these stories, it's -- you are always left with those questions of why this took place. And there is really no sense of answers that could really ever satisfy that question it seems.

But many people here on the ground, particularly authorities, are trying to secure the area, make sure that there is not another individual around, and essentially work to console those family members who may have lost people today.

MALVEAUX: I know it's hard and you never really get over the kind of shock and the kind of emotion that people experience in this kind of episode. I covered Columbine and you really don't think these kinds of things will take place, and then they take place time and time again.

David, really quickly if you can, paint a picture if you will of the community, who are they, what are they like?

ARIOSTO: Well, this town is, I'd say, probably an hour's drive north of New York City and sort of a sleepy New England town. And you have, you know, it's really pretty suburban town in which, you know, tonight's wooded areas surrounding this school, and the thing you hear from parents and from community members is that how could this happen here? How could this happen in this sleepy little town where, you know, it's filled with just sort of these picturesque scenes of what you would imagine of a New England town, antique shops along roadways and ironically a cemetery, an old cemetery dating back to the 1800s sits on a roadway overlooking -- overlooking the school itself. So the question of why, and why here, is omnipresent.

MALVEAUX: David, thank you very much. Really appreciate your reporting. And obviously, you've been talking to a lot of families. And it is just devastating for that community and for all of us to see what has transpired today.

Earlier, our CNN digital managing editor, Meredith Artley, spoke with us earlier and she actually talked with a witness who was inside of the school.


MEREDITH ARTLEY, CNN DIGITAL MANAGING EDITOR: She was in a meeting this morning. She said around 9:30, 9:35. And she -- there were about seven people in the room, and it was a meeting regarding one of her kids, she has children at the school. And she volunteers at the school as well. And she heard -- she described it as a pop, pop, pop in the hall and they all heard it. Seven people in meeting room. They heard that sound in the hall. And they -- she said three people went out into the hall, the principal, the vice principal and the school psychologist. And to hear her describe it, she said three people went out into the hall and only one -- only one person came back, which was the vice principal, she said, who was shot in the leg or the foot, who came crawling back. And she said that she cowered under the table during that moment and called 911, as did the other people in the room. She said she never saw the shooter, that she was, you know, she was under the table, that the shooting happened in the hallway. And to hear her describe it, she said there was -- there must have been a hundred rounds. And I asked her to clarify that, I said really truly, a hundred rounds, and she said at least.

MALVEAUX: When the vice principal came crawling back, what happened at that point? What did she say? How did the vice principal manage to move or escape? Can -- did she describe what was the situation as he was crawling back?

ARTLEY: She described -- she said that -- she said that there was confusion, there was yelling and, understandably. She said there was yelling in the hallway, and she couldn't tell for a while if it was the police or the shooter. When I talked to her, she was still inside the school. The school is on lockdown. So she couldn't tell -- she didn't know if the shooter was dead yet or still there.

MALVEAUX: What did the vice principal look like when she saw him return?

ARTLEY: I didn't hear her describe that. She said, you know, she said, listen, this is a nice town, this is a nice school, these are the kind of things that don't happen there. She noted this was not some high-powered meeting, it was, you know, about my -- about one of my children who was in second grade there. And she, you know, she was tearful. Just understandably panicked. And she said they marched at some point, I don't have the length of time, but she said some point after the shooting they marched us out in the hallway, right past the two bodies laying in the hallway in a pool of blood.


MALVEAUX: CNN has learned at least 20 people have been killed, 10 of them children.

I want to bring in our John King out of Washington, who has more information.

John, what are you learning?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, I've been speaking to a federal law enforcement official here in Washington who is getting information directly from the scene. State police on the scene, FBI officials on the scene, in Connecticut. This source cautioning that as you know in these situations the numbers almost always change. But the official tells us he's now seeing consistent reporting from the scene that there are more than 20 fatalities, most are children. The source says expect the numbers to change. But he is now seeing consistent reports of the death toll being closer to 30 than to 20. He's hearing a number consistent, he says 26, 27, but say he doesn't trust that yet. Said he believes the number will be closer to 30 than 20.

Also says that from reporting from the scene, from law enforcement officials there, both state and federal, Suzanne, that the shooter is dead. Would not give any details on how the shooter was -- whether the shooter killed himself or was killed by police at the scene but says the shooter has, quote, "a direct connection to the school." Would not describe for me at this early point of the investigation what that connection is.

MALVEAUX: So he wasn't able to say whether or not that connection was a parent or a -- or an employee of the school at the time?

KING: He knows that information, has that information from the scene, but was not willing to discuss it at this point. Says it is very sensitive at the moment. Wants to defer in terms of some of the release of the most sensitive information to the authorities on the scene, because, as you know, we're hearing from other correspondents that they're going to houses, known houses, friends, associates and the like, as the investigation unfolds. There are some things they want to keep private at the moment.

MALVEAUX: Lieutenant Paul Vance said he was actually -- they didn't give the numbers, the fatality numbers there. In the process of still notifying some of the families. Your sources are saying they're not putting out those exact numbers until they get a real handle on being able to reach some of those parents and let them know what is going on?

KING: That's exactly right. They also want to go through every last nook and cranny of the school, unfortunately, to make sure that there is no other fatalities inside and also no other people who might be hiding inside. And they say the governor of Connecticut and state police on the scene have urged everyone not to give a firm fatality number just yet, until they make sure that all of the families have been specifically notified, Suzanne, and all of the families have received official word.

But, again, the source I'm speaking to has been for several hours been getting reports directly from the scene, and he says consistently those reports say the number of dead, closer to 30 than to 20, and sadly most of them are children.

MALVEAUX: And, John, does he have a sense of when we might be able to learn exactly what that number, that final number is going to be? Does he have a sense this might be hours away we'll learn this news?

KING: He believes it will be sometime this afternoon. He believes they are settled pretty closely on a number at the scene, but they want to do two things. Number one, have the governor and state police inform the families, and number two, just do a second and a third sweep of that school to make sure they have looked everywhere.

MALVEAUX: All right, thank you very much, John. Appreciate it.