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The Situation Room
Coverage of Connecticut School Shooting
Aired December 14, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
QUESTION: Can you confirm the body in the house was a male, adult male?
LT. J. PAUL VANCE, CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE: I'm sorry I can't confirm. I know about the secondary scene. I didn't have time to get into detail about that. I'll try to do that for 6:00.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the shooter's identity?
VANCE: Adam Lansing, can you confirm that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to confirm the identity of the shooter. We're not prepared to do that yet. So we have a tentative identification. We're still working with that. So we're not going to confirm the identity and -- and put that out there. We will -- we will identify the shooter at an appropriate time. Just for our investigatory purposes, it's not appropriate to do that right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you see is happening in Hoboken, New Jersey (INAUDIBLE) investigation there?
VANCE: Again, it's -- it's part and parcel of what we do. I told you initially that we will leave no stone unturned as we're looking at every facet of this investigation, whether it's the shooter, any of the victims. We're going to look at everything. And we certainly will go in and out of state, and we'll work with fellow law enforcement, including federal agencies, if we need to, to answer every single question to exactly what transpired here. And we will -- we will -- it will be a time-consuming process, but we'll get it done.
VANCE: Right now, one shooter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
VANCE: It was -- it was K through four, kindergarten through fourth grade. That's -- that's the school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
VANCE: They were all students of that school, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were they all in kindergarten?
VANCE: I don't know the grade they were in. I'm sorry, I don't know that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) one class, one section (INAUDIBLE)...
VANCE: One section and two classrooms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
VANCE: I couldn't tell you. I don't know. I didn't -- I didn't find that out. I'm sorry.
VANCE: Your question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
VANCE: Well, the -- everyone's been -- and that's -- that's part of -- that's part of the process. And that's why it took us so long to get here. That's a very good question, are there any students that were unaccounted for?
We had to ensure that we accounted for every student in that school. And that includes maybe someone that was absent for the day because of illness and didn't come to school. So that -- that was part of the process that we had to go through. And now, we have the identification process, which is even more difficult. And so it's going to be some time before we're able to give you that information. It probably won't be available until some time tomorrow.
VANCE: Did we identify the weapons?
We have seized the weapons. Yes, we have, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of weapons?
VANCE: We did not -- we will not discuss that at this time, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you now trying to reach the parents (INAUDIBLE)?
VANCE: We've been in contact with all the parents. We would not come up here until we had been in contact with all the parents. And we've been communicating with them since they arrived here at the scene. They've been fully inform. And that's why it took -- again, why it took so long for us to come up here.
VANCE: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How were the first responders dealing with all this?
No one could ever expect to walk into a school and see those types of mass casualties.
VANCE: That's a very, very -- it's a good question. And everyone believes that -- that, you know, it's -- it's something that first responders do, that law enforcement does. But I can tell you, we provided counseling for the first responders because this was a very tragic, horrific scene that they encountered. It's not something that -- that we want to see. It's not something that we see every day. So that was one -- that's one thing that we have done. And -- and the colonel has made that perfectly clear, that those people are to be spoken to and receive crisis counseling as required.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- you have to be the face of (INAUDIBLE) what's happening (INAUDIBLE) and I'm sure this is something that (INAUDIBLE)?
VANCE: The lieutenant -- the lieutenant can -- can certainly tell you. He's a Newtown officer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE), not only as a law enforcement officer, but as a person and as a (INAUDIBLE)?
LT. GEORGE SINKO, NEWTOWN POLICE: As a person, the first thing I thought about was my own children.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say your name, please?
SINKO: Lieutenant George Sinko.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the name (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's your name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your name, please?
SINKO: Lieutenant George Sinko. S-I-N-K-O.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us, as a resident of Newtown and also (INAUDIBLE) the ones you have (INAUDIBLE)? SINKO: This is most definitely the worst thing that we've had experienced here in town. Tragic. But right now, we're concerned about the families of the victims. Our officers are -- are -- are professional and we will deal with this, as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you describe the scene with the parents at the place where people are getting together?
And are there counselors there for them?
What's happening (INAUDIBLE)?
SINKO: The local hospital, Danbury Hospital, has offered their crisis intervention counselors. They will be available at Reed Intermediate School, which is on Wasserman Way. And they are available right now, if need be. And they will be there all weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a place where -- where parents are gathering?
I mean and -- and what (INAUDIBLE) can you describe that (INAUDIBLE)?
SINKO: The parents certainly have gathered at the -- at the local firehouse, which is adjacent to the school. And we've done our best to comfort them and to try to reassure them that we've done everything we can. But as mentioned, it's a difficult process to confirm the status of an entire elementary school. And we need to be right when we do that.
SINKO: It's healing. We just have to think about the families right now and do everything we can for them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lieutenant, was one of the teachers killed (INAUDIBLE)?
SINKO: We -- we can't confirm any of that right now. The investigation is ongoing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are parents still at the firehouse right now?
SINKO: There are still parents there, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many?
SINKO: I don't have a number for you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)?
SINKO: I don't have a number for you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When did you realize (INAUDIBLE) what -- what the magnitude (INAUDIBLE)?
How long did it take you to realize the magnitude (INAUDIBLE)?
SINKO: Minutes after our officers were there, they realized, you know, what a horrific scene we had there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officers went in, realized that perhaps (INAUDIBLE) dealing with a (INAUDIBLE) called for backup (INAUDIBLE) call for backup (INAUDIBLE) upon getting the 911 call and hearing what (INAUDIBLE) 911 on that?
SINKO: I don't have the exact time line on that. Certainly, our officers responded immediately. And as soon as they realized what they had, we obviously asked for all the resources we could get.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me just -- let me just finish this.
All right, what we're going to do is we'll come back about, just before 6:00, because I know all of you are on at 6:00. Well -- we'll get back here with one more briefing. Then what we'll do is a scheduled briefing probably tomorrow. So some of you folks look very tired. I'm sure you want to get a little rest. So we're going to see if we can give you a schedule of briefings for tomorrow, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, where -- where -- where are you?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so there we have the latest information coming from the Connecticut state police, from local law enforcement in Newtown, Connecticut.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
We want to welcome back our viewers in the United States and around the world.
We're watching what's going on from here in THE SITUATION ROOM. It's breaking news.
Unimaginable horror grips the nation in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history -- a tragedy so wrenching it reduced the president of the United States to tears.
Right now, 27 people are confirmed dead in Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre -- 20 children, six adults and the alleged shooter. All of this happening within a matter of a few hours.
Watch this -- the sights and sounds of this tragedy as it played out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was getting in my car, I heard sirens going off continuously. Car after car after car, some of them were flying up past my house and coming back around again, going to the school. This house is three houses away from the school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we first arrived there, there was not a lot of security to guard. And there were three children that came out. One of them was -- had a very bloody face.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We immediately jumped in the car and headed down here. So it's troubling. It was really kind of mayhem in the room with all of the kids and the teachers, trying to find your kid and identify where yours is, making sure that they're safe and then trying to find out what the situation was and make sure everybody else was safe.
It started with the neighbors and then the rest of their -- their friends in school and that sort of thing. So it's...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did your son or daughter say to you when they first (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That -- they were immediately crying, you know, just petrified of what happened and what did it mean. And I think they're both -- they're both older than some of the other kids in the school, so understanding, you know, understanding what happened. My son was in the gym when it happened, so I think that he heard -- he heard the gunshots.
ALEXIS, STUDENT: We saw like police officers and we heard them on the roof and in our building.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you hear any gunshots or anything like that?
ALEXIS: Well, the police officers, like they were -- they were kind of, because there's police officers like right out the door, like trying to find the guy.
ALEXIS' FATHER: It was, uh, shocking. I got the call at work this morning. And I can't believe a small down like this would ever have anything like this happen. And it to be in an elementary school, that unheard of.
ALEXIS' MOTHER: (INAUDIBLE) it doesn't even seem real. It just does not seem like it's even possible. It's like you, you know, you read it in the paper or see it in the news and you're like, oh, my God, that poor family. And then you have something happen so close to home, it's like I think I'm still in shock.
MAYOR MARC BROUGHTON, DANBURY, CONNECTICUT: I can tell you, first of all, obviously, our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this terrible incident. Very tragic.
Our -- our police are currently working closely with the Newtown Police Department. We have mutual aide agreements in place that allow us to provide assets that they may not have, along with the state police that have taken the lead on this investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was terrifying. It's -- I'm still terrific. I think I'm still in shock about it all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was everybody crying, scared, wanting their parents to come get them?
ALEXIS: Yes, they were. And then some people were even like, they -- they of really felt -- they got a stomachache.
MAUREEN KARENS, NURSE AT DANBURY HOSPITAL: Well, they wouldn't even let us in the building. All I can say is that one of the cops said it's, you know, the worst thing he had ever seen in his entire career. But it was when they told the parents. All these parents were waiting for their 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Awful. It's -- you can't even imagine how awful it must be for those parents, those loved ones, those family members in the small town in Newtown, Connecticut, a town of under 2,000 people. This is a small elementary school, grades kindergarten through fourth grade. These are five year olds through 10 year -- 10 year olds. Twenty of them gunned down by a killer today. Six adults killed, as well.
Mary Snow is joining us now from outside the suspect's mother's home, we believe.
Is that correct -- Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is correct, Wolf. And we have -- we just left that location. But we had been there several hours throughout the afternoon. And that -- the investigation stretched to that home. And it was -- it's being treated as a -- a crime scene.
We found SWAT teams there. And we can tell you that residents near that home have been -- were told to evacuate earlier today. We talked to one neighbor who said she was told at around 11:00 this morning by police to get out right away. And she still is -- is out of her home, unable to get back into -- to her house.
As far as what we saw, the police, of course, are being very tight-lipped about that location where the investigation continued. I can tell you that in addition to seeing SWAT teams there, we did see an ambulance at one point while we were there, leaving shortly after 3:00 this afternoon.
And just stunned neighbors, to say the least, who were numb, really. A number of them couldn't even talk to us, they're so filled with emotion.
One neighbor did talk to us and just said that she knew the family of the suspect and described the sons as trouble, but didn't elaborate any further than that. So really not a very decisive picture being put together at that scene of the -- the suspect's family.
BLITZER: Mary Snow on the scene for us in Newtown, Connecticut, outside the suspect's mother's home.
We're getting more information.
Susan Candiotti is getting some more information. We'll go to her shortly.
But I want Tom Foreman to update us right now -- Tom, walk us through what we know as of this point. And, remember, all of this is subject to change, because the information is still coming in.
But walk us through what we know right now, how this went down.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you're absolutely right to caution about that -- what we do know, because I've covered an awful lot of these school shootings over the years and the early information always seems to change.
So this is what we know about the timeline of the shootings, as reported by law enforcement officials and witnesses, and the layout of the school as best we can piece it together. And remember, this is just a very rough approximation.
About 9:30 this morning, class has been underway for about a half hour here. More than 600 students, close to 50 members of the faculty here, the school principal, vice principal, the school psychologist and several other adults were having a meeting up here in this part of the school. And they've gathered up -- right up here near the office area at that time.
Around 9:40, according to what a lot of eyewitness have to say, that's when it would appeared the gunman enters the building.
How did he do that?
We don't really know. We do know that later today, police were looking very hard at a car right out here parked by a fire lane. And based on what eyewitness said, there's pretty good reason to think he came just right through the front door into this area. The -- we don't have a guarantee of that, but it certainly sounds like that from everything we've heard.
And right away, people throughout this entire building started hearing shots. Now, in some -- in some cases, they said they sounded like bangs or maybe somebody hammering. But without question, people all over the building started saying they could hear something.
By 9:41 or so, calls were coming into 911. The principal, the vice principal and the school psychologist, according to witnesses, we mentioned that they were in a meeting up in this part of the building, they come out of that meeting and they go toward the gun way -- gunfire out here in a hallway, somewhere in here or in here.
They go out there and the people in the room say they hear many, many more shots and a lot of shouting. And the vice principal comes back in wounded, but the other two do not. Authorities say that the shooting appears to have happened in a relatively short period of time and they say the gunman does not roam around, but generally stays right in the area here. You heard it over and over again from the officer there, saying two rooms -- two rooms is where it all happened.
Around 9:45 or so, teachers in the rest of the building, from all we can hear from students and from other people who have spoken about it, are doing all they can to protect their students. They don't know what's going on. Some students say they were over near the gymnasium. They said that they were actually told to hide in some closets and that sort of thing.
Others, it appears the school went into lockdown, but there seemed to me some people started leading students away from the school. I'm not sure of the timeline of that, Wolf, but we do know that certainly by the time the officers showed up on the scene, then you started having a situation where, of course, students were being led away by officers and by teachers and everybody who could try to get them out to safety.
Sometime a little bit later here, we're going to put it at 9:50, but we don't really know because it's very, very murky and we will get clarity overtime. It's not clear how or when the gunman dies. What we know that officers have said no officer fired a gun which would lead you to believe that he shot himself, but we don't really know that.
We do know that as officers arrive on the scene here, they immediately take control of the entire building. They spread out through the building, securing rooms, making sure they know that if they have the gunman, it's one gunman, there's not somebody else there, and they're looking everywhere for these pockets of children out here, because they know there are kids hidden in the building.
And I tell you, Wolf, in all the school shootings I've seen in recent years, this is very common occurrence. When the shooting begins, many children with their teachers helping them go into hiding, and that is a very, very dangerous situation when the officers go into the building, because -- I had officers say, suddenly, you have people popping out behind you who were in closets or little rooms and the officers have to be extremely professional and calm to get through that and control the situation.
But that's precisely what they did, Wolf. And at that point, you had a situation where you were able to see the officers securing the property all-around there, trying to make sure they can see that the gunman was there and leading the rest of the kids out. Some of them, as we heard, passed actual victims of the shooting.
Again, Wolf, all of our timeline is here very, very tentative right now. We're going to get a lot more, but the bottom line is this looks like it took maybe 20 minutes, 30 minutes at most, beginning to end from the time the shooter walked in to the time the police officers essentially had everything secured and were going through to make sure they had everything taken care of and all the kids cleared out. That's a very long process that's going on all day.
BLITZER: During those few minutes, Tom, 26 people were murdered, six adults and 20 young children. What a horrific, horrific story. Tom Foreman, thanks very much.
Let's go to the scene right now in Newtown, Connecticut. Susan Candiotti is there getting more information on the investigation. What are you learning, Susan?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm learning that the mother of the suspected shooter in this case who has previously been identified as Nancy Lanza (ph) was found dead in the shooter's home here in the Newtown area. I've also been told that no body, no physical body, deceased body was found in another home in Hoboken, New Jersey. There have been some other published reports about that.
Two sources do tell us that someone was taken away for questioning from that house in Hoboken, New Jersey and that person is believed to be the suspect's brother in this case, in other words, the brother of the suspected dead shooter in this school shooting. Now, the shooter has been described to me as having worn, being dressed in black battle fatigues and a military vest when he came into the school and began firing away.
I know, according to sources, that at least three weapons have been recovered. One of them described as a model 223 Bushwhacker, which is a military style semi-automatic gun. Some of the ammo, same ammo is used in Afghanistan by our soldiers there. And that two other guns were also found that are described as hand guns, one a Glock and one called (inaudible) -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So, the bottom line is that the mother who was a teacher at that school was found dead at her home where Mary Snow is outside that home, because originally, we thought the mother was inside that classroom where the gunman opened fire. CANDIOTTI: Earlier, we had information that she was found in the class -- in one of the classrooms. However, now, I'm being told that, in fact, her body was found at the suspect's residence here in this particular area. We don't know whether she also lived there when -- we just don't know. We also, Wolf, don't know the timeline. When was she killed?
Was she killed before the shooting began at the school? These are the kind of things that authorities are still trying to piece together. Also, we have conflicting information about the shooter's name. We've had the name for quite sometime, and there is some question as to whether the shooter is described -- which brother's name is which.
So, we have their ages, we have the names, but we're still trying to sort that out. And officials have yet to officially release that yet, Wolf.
BLITZER: In this kind of story, it's obviously not unusual that conflicting information comes in, and we constantly update and revise as we get more information, more details. Initial reports very often prove to be inaccurate. Certainly, in this case, we're getting some conflicting information as well, but we'll piece it all together shortly in about 20 minutes, 25 minutes.
The Connecticut state police will have another briefing and maybe we'll get more detailed information at that time. Susan Candiotti is on the scene. We've got all of our reporters and producers there in Newtown, also the investigation continuing in Hoboken, New Jersey. Our breaking news coverage will resume right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED KID: I saw some of the bullets going past the hall that I was right next to and then a teacher pulled me into her classroom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you heard sounds?
UNIDENTIFIED KID: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did it sound like to you?
UNIDENTIFIED KID: It sounded like someone was kicking a door.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it didn't sound like gun shots, did it?
UNIDENTIFIED KID: No, it didn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That was a young boy from the Sandy Hook Elementary School. His parents are there when our affiliates are when we speak to these young kids. We only do it with their parents' permission. Just want to update our viewers on that. So many of these kids came so close to being killed by a killer who went into that school.
We just heard Tom Foreman go through point by point what happened. The teachers were over there at the school class. Attendance sheets came out. It was a terrifyingly close moment for so many of these young kids as we watched what was going on and as we're learning now more details.
Our local affiliate certainly watched what was going on. They caught up with a mother who was thankful to the teacher who saved her son's life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just so grateful to the teacher who saved him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. You think the teacher saved his life?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She definitely did. He had bullets going by him, and she grabbed him and another child and pulled him into a classroom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So, what could have driven a gunman to open fire on defenseless children? I'm joined now by forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Lise Van Susteren, also by our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
First to you, Sanjay, just tell us what -- you know, you're a trained, highly trained medical professional. Walk through what goes through your mind when you hear the horrific details of a mass killing like this in an elementary school.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think for most of us here in Los Angeles, most of us -- you know, you think about your own children. I think these events, you know, certainly make you want to hug your kids a bit tighter tonight. I have three children, as you know, Wolf.
And I think -- the other thing I think of having covered so many of these types of tragedies as have you, Wolf, is that it is common for lots of people around the country and around the world who weren't directly involved with this to have symptoms and to really be affected by this in many ways. And, you know, it's important to keep in mind that many people are going through the same thing.
So, your community and the people around you become a real sense if support. But you know, if people develop these symptoms, they can last for days. But if they start to develop into nightmares or anxiety or depression, then it is time to see somebody and get some help. And there are going to be people out there who need that as a result of what has happened today.
And let me just say, wolf, something that you've talked about in the past, we've talked about together, and that is this notion that we think about mental health as being vague, as being nebulas, as being something that is harder to target, harder to predict, and even harder to treat. But much in the same way that we think about heart disease or cancer or anything else.
These things can be predicted and they can be treated. I think this is one of the first things that went through my mind is this is another reminder of just that, Wolf.
BLITZER: Sanjay, hold on for a moment. Lise Van Susteren is here. Lisa, so many experts have said to me after other killings along this line over the years, there are these warning signs, but a lot of folks, family members, friends, they don't pay attention to them.
DR. LISE VAN SUSTEREN, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: Well, you know, that's not entirely fair. I'll tell you why. I have been in doing this business for 25 years. There are plenty of families who are distraught, who have members of their family who are children that they know are dangerous and they live with this anguish of not being able to do anything for them for weeks and months and years.
The reality is that we really don't have the legislation that allows the people in authority, either doctors or the officials, other officials to do what must be done until the person has committed a crime, and that's what when they come to their attention. So, it's just not entirely true that people are in denial.
BLITZER: What are the warning signs that people should be looking at for someone who might go out and start killing kids?
VAN SUSTEREN: There are plenty of families who do respond to the warning signs and they will call the authorities.
BLITZER: What are the warning signs?
VAN SUSTEREN: They will see that their child is angry, isolated, clearly, potentially responding to auditory hallucinations. They hear voices, maybe a fascination with guns, maybe they're at a shooting range. They know something is wrong. Well, you can't call the police and say my son is acting weird, come and get him. He needs help.
They don't have any justification for doing that. So, there is -- in most jurisdictions, it's almost impossible until you've actually committed a crime to intervene in a way that can protect our society. That's what has to be changed is the legislation so we can act before a crime.
BLITZER: Sanjay, you study the brain all the time. Are there chemical imbalances here, are there chemical problems that could create a killer like this?
GUPTA: I think so, Wolf. And I think, you know, I agree with your guest as well that, you know, I mean, look, these things, they used to be sort of in the realm of the anecdotal, you know? Now, there's objective evidence of what we can see happening certainly in the brain. There may be people who are more predisposed or set up for it and then something pushes them over the edge.
It's unclear, obviously, in most of these situations. But you know, I think that to think of mental illness as a real disease and when you start thinking about it like that, it changes everyone's perspective. You think about it more like you would think of someone who has heart problems again or cancer or diabetes.
It changes everyone's perspective, again, in terms of how you potentially think about it within your own family, potentially getting it diagnosed and treated. Again, I agree with your guests that it's hard to do sometimes.
We're not talking about, you know, having somebody show up and take a family member away, we're talking about someone, you know, being able to talk about it openly and make sure that they have the resources and they can go see somebody. It's not easy, it's not even available for many people around the country, Wolf.
BLITZER: And if no one, Lisa, has committed a crime yet, but there are these signs out there, there are letters, I want to go out there and kill people, and they're going to practice ranges, is it usually an indication of a psychiatric problem that can be treated, for example, with medicine?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, sure if you can get them to take the medicine, but usually, when you have a person that's like that, they won't acknowledge that there's anything wrong. Try getting them into treatment, try getting them to take that pill. They won't do it. Not -- that's not everybody, not everybody is out there doing this, but for those who do, it's because they have most likely refused treatment.
I'll bet you anything that most of the people that we are talking about and the one person we're talking about today was clearly to his family a danger and they just didn't know what to do. And they didn't have the legislation, and that's the problem, to back them up so that we could take action.
Now I'll just add this. A number of decades ago, we were very fearful that people be thrown into a hospital just because they were different. We wanted to protect them so we enacted all sorts of laws to protect people. We've gone too far in that direction. Now we have to face the reality. And acknowledge that we have to step up our work getting people into treatment when they need it. And letting doctors make those decisions, not just lawyers and judges.
BLITZER: Lisa Van Susteren, thanks for that expertise.
Sanjay, thanks to you as well.
Let's bring you up to date on what we know so far in the deadly shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Once again we're awaiting another live press conference from the Connecticut State Police. That's coming up just before the top of the hour, we're told. Here's what we know right now. Twenty-seven people are confirmed dead, 20 children, six adults, and the alleged shooter. We've also just learned in the last few minutes that the mother of the suspected shooter was found dead in her son's home near the school. We've also been told by a source that nobody has been found in a house searched by authorities in Hoboken, New Jersey, although the search there continues.
A law enforcement source says the alleged gunman was dressed in what are described as black battle fatigues and a military vest. The source says the semiautomatic weapon was found at the scene along with two handguns.
The Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy has been meeting with some of the parents of the children who were killed in today's horrible tragedy. He spoke out just a little while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: You can never be prepared for this kind of incident. What has happened, what has transpired at that school building will leave a mark on this community and every family impacted.
I only ask that all of our fellow citizens here in the United States and around the world who have already offered their assistance, remember all of the victims in their prayers.
To all of you in the media, we will do our best to keep you as informed as we can. After I'm done speaking, a representative of the state police will speak to you and give you some additional information.
Earlier today a number of our citizens, beautiful children, had their life taken away from them, as well as adults whose responsibility it was to educate and supervise those children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, speaking out once again.
We're awaiting another press briefing by the Connecticut State Police. That's supposed to happen before the top of the hour.
CNN's Ashleigh Banfield is in Newtown, Connecticut, right now. She's joining us once again.
Ashleigh, describe a little bit more of the mood, of what you're feeling over there and what you're seeing.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it seems every 10 minutes there's another dozen or so reporters, trucks and gear that shows up here. This is obviously an extraordinary story of national important and international importance as international countries start to respond to this. It's obvious from the number of people who are coming to report it just how hard-hitting this has been for so many people.
I want to just let you know some mechanics of how things are playing out here, Wolf. As night falls over this town right now, the firehouse has been such a center for these parents and for Dan Malloy, the governor himself, who was the one who broke it to many of the parents who were still waiting there earlier this evening and had not been reunited with their children. He was the one who had broken it to those parents that if you haven't been reunited by -- with your children by now, it's over.
The problem is they can't make a positive identification and a formal notification to these parents because, as you heard the state police saying earlier, the I.D. process is going to be an overwhelming task with that many tiny bodies and those six adults as well. Eighteen little bodies that have to be identified, it is a massive crime scene and it is a massive undertaking that undoubtedly will go on throughout the night.
I also wanted to just let you know another detail. The principal of the school is one of the victims of the shooting. She had just this fall instituted a brand-new security system at the school in which, like in many schools, if you want to visit the school, you have to hit a buzzer. You're seen by an electronic monitoring system and you have to be buzzed in. Those lock down by 9:30 in the morning. So before 9:30 you can go in and out of the school. Much the same as a lot of other schools. After 9:30, it's the buzz in process.
So possibly the shooter buzzed into the school before that lockdown happened and who knows since -- you know, since he had a connection to the school, according to police, that it would have been an easy access anyway.
A couple of other things to let you know about a basketball coach at the school has told CNN that he had two children in the school. They are OK, but that they are terrified tonight. So just some color from some of the parents who are coming out of the school and are reunited with their children. It's been extraordinarily difficult.
And then of course this reporting from our Susan Candiotti with a law enforcement source saying that the mother of the shooter was found in her son's residence.
Trying to put a lot of the pieces together here, Wolf, but the state police announced earlier that the shooter had targeted a person that he lived with. It was a family member he lived with. Whether or not this was the mother's residence, the kindergarten teacher who suffered at the hands of the shooter, whether it was her residence or his residence, or whether they shared that residence is still entirely unclear. But that is the secondary crime scene here in Connecticut tonight that they -- that they are looking into.
As far as how -- this night is going to progress for not only those families who are affected by this, but also this entire town. There are two vigils that will get under way about 7:00 tonight at two different churches. And then we've seen signs elsewhere for sort of smaller ad hoc vigils as well, at restaurants and businesses. But definitely two vigils at two of the churches here in town that should get under way at 7:00 tonight.
But I can't even describe the mood for you, Wolf. I'm sorry. It's one of those things that I think we'll all know where we were when we heard this news break.
BLITZER: We certainly will, and you live not that far away in Connecticut, Ashleigh. Give us a little sense of this town, Newtown, that maybe our viewers here in the United States and around the world that are not familiar with this part of Connecticut and certainly not familiar with this town.
BANFIELD: It's -- it is very remote. Earlier today when this was breaking, I described it as sort of off the grid. Very remote, very rural. Beautiful, gently rolling hilling, thick wooded areas, large properties that are, you know, few and far between the houses. They're nicely spread out. Definitely the kind of place you would say you could never imagine it happening here. I know a lot of people say that, but this is just not the kind of place that you would think something would happen like this.
Not only that, it's remote in the sense that yes, some people who live here do commute to New York City for work, but it's one of the longer commute. I commute an hour every day out to where I live, this is a solid hour and a half. So it's a longer commute, but people who do this, people who live here live here for the safety and the security and the terrific school system.
This is what you hear over and over. We came here because it's the place to be safe and secure and ensure that our children are going to have a great upbringing. And that's what we hear over and over.
This is just so unbelievable to everyone that this could happen in a place that's so -- this is like a hell scene when you drive through here.
BLITZER: And right behind you, in a few minutes, the Connecticut State Police will come once again and brief us on what's going on. They have been pretty cooperative.
BLITZER: But they're not providing names yet. Not providing specific information because this is an ongoing investigation, Ashleigh, as you well know, and it's only just beginning.
BANFIELD: Yes. Just imagine -- I mean the volley of bullets that were described to us earlier today from a parent who was in a meeting with some of the school -- the teachers, the principal, the school psychologist, and said that there -- it sounded as though there were at least a hundred rounds. So imagine the amount of investigation that has to go on before they can really piece together what happened here. And they have to do this. Obviously with the reports that the shooter is dead, that does help in the matter in terms of not trying to mount a prosecution and collect that kind of evidence, but let me tell you, 18 little children's bodies are inside that school right now. Two additional children were rushed to the hospital that died in the hospital. Six adult bodies are in that school right now and the shooter himself is dead in one of those classrooms as well.
What might be different, Wolf, than, say, investigating the Columbine massacre, as compared to this one is that the police tell us it was in a very concentrated area. You saw Tom Foreman's report, showing the layout of the school. We're told that essentially two rooms where most of the killings took place. It's so hard to say that because I know I'm talking about an elementary school. But that's essentially what they're up against right now.
Positive identification of each and every one of those children and adults, and then of course the grand array of the bullets, the fragments, the damage, and the disaster that they have to piece together and try to come up with some kind of a forensic story.
BLITZER: We'll stand by for the next briefing right from behind you, Ashleigh. Stand by for that as well.
We're getting more information, we'll take a quick break, resume our special coverage right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will carry this around forever. This town will never be the same, I'm sure. And what I find myself talking with other people, but I can't believe we're comparing this with some of the worst tragedies in the United States. The Columbine and the Virginia shooting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Twenty-six people gunned down by a shooter, six adults, 20 children, age 5 to 10. In the small town in Connecticut. Newtown, Connecticut.
It's very rare if ever we see the president of the United States cry during an address to the nation, but we did see that today when President Obama spoke to the country not just as the commander in chief, but also as a father.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do. The majority of those who died today were children. Beautiful little kids, between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers. Men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams. So our hearts are broken today.
For the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children and for the families of the adults who were lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: There's the White House right now. You can only imagine the conversation the president and the first lady are having with their two daughters right now like millions of other parents are having with their children. You saw the flag half-staff at the White House as well. The president ordered all flags half-staff between now and December 18th in memory of those killed today in Newtown, Connecticut, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Let's bring in our chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin.
Jessica, you covered this president. Have you ever seen him like this before?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, Wolf. I have never seen the president so emotional. He was crying not just in that clip you played but throughout his comments today. Openly wiping away tears the whole time and speaking in incredibly personal, emotional terms.
The president unfortunately has come out and addressed the nation repeatedly after mass shootings, and Wolf, usually when he does it, he tries to find a silver lining. He talks about an heroic act by somebody who was with victims in that room or a medical miracle that happened at the hospital. A story of American resilience.
But today the facts were just too grim. And instead of playing the role of consoler-in-chief, he in essence led the nations in grieving, in expressing our own sadness and in mourning. And you could see the president almost struggle for his own composure at one point. And he talked about, you know, his girls are slightly older than these kids, but you see how much it hit him on a personal level and how he talked about this sort of being -- without explicitly saying, but really a moment for everybody to put aside whatever differences we have and really focus on your own lives and what you can be grateful for and how you can help others.
Wolf, I'd also point out that he did say while this is not a time to talk policy, and I'm going to quote here, "We're going to have to come together he said, and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this regardless of the politics."
And we have to wonder whether that is an indirect reference to fighting for some of those assault weapons ban reinstatement that he once supported or some other gun actions that he once stood for but has not fought for in his first term.
We'll follow up on that at another time -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Any indication when the president will be going to Connecticut?
YELLIN: No. I've asked at the White House and they said they don't have any travel to announce to Connecticut, but you and I both know that that will no doubt most likely appear on the president's schedule, I would guess, sometime next week.
I will also -- I would expect that at some point he would probably put in calls to either families of the victims or of the survivors, but I've also asked about that and they have nothing there to report either yet -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jessica, thanks very much. A powerful moment over at the White House where we saw the president of the United States repeatedly wiping away tears as he spoke about this massacre at this school in Connecticut.
We are standing by to hear from the Connecticut State Police. They are about to brief us once again on the latest information coming in. We'll have live coverage right after this.
BLITZER: Looking at live pictures from Newtown, Connecticut. We're getting ready to hear from the Connecticut State Police once again momentarily. They'll be briefing us on the latest information coming in. We expect Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police to tell us the latest information as we await this briefing.
I want to bring in Tom Fuentes, our CNN contributor, FBI's former assistant director.
Tom, thanks very much for helping us in a situation like this. I want to clarify what we earlier, like other news organizations, were reporting that the suspected shooter was Ryan Lanza, age 24. We now believe the shooter was not Ryan Lanza. Ryan Lanza was taken into custody, we're told, earlier in the day.
That perhaps his brother was the suspected shooter, perhaps the Connecticut State Police, Lieutenant Paul Vance, will clarify this. But we're getting more information on what's going on. So we do know that Lanza's mother was among those killed, found dead at the -- at her home near the school. She was a teacher at this school, the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
When you heard all these details coming in and you've studied these kinds of mass killings over the years, what did you think?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, to be frank, Wolf, as I was hearing the early reports, and you had many news organizations reporting who was where, who was killed, who was the shooter. And then when the police did their briefing, they wouldn't confirm it. So that told me immediately that there's a lot of false or at least conflicting or confusing information being put out and the police are -- were still in the process of trying to sort out exactly what they had and exactly the identity of that shooter. And so that's why oftentimes in the race to get news out first, it's not necessarily the right story.
BLITZER: What is the role of the FBI in a mass murder like this?
FUENTES: Well, in a case of this, whether it's one person or a mass murder, the police are in charge. So in this case --
BLITZER: The local police or the state police?
FUENTES: The local -- well, that's to be worked out between -- by agreement between the city, town, county and state police, but it's a local matter. It's a -- it's for the Connecticut authorities to determine who's in charge. If it was organized crime or if it was an act of terrorism, then it would be a federal violation.
So as soon as they determine that the shooter is not a member of some neo-Nazi militia group or something where he's a terrorist --
BLITZER: Or a hate crime, the FBI would get involved.
FUENTES: Or a hate crime. But as soon as it appears that it's going to be a disturbed individual, then pretty much the police are going to be in charge of this.
Also from the law enforcement standpoint, it really is not critical at that point whose case it will be. It doesn't appear there's going to be a prosecution if the shooter -- the offender is dead and no other participants or co-conspirators are identified. So in this case, the police, the FBI, ATF, all other agencies from the area that would be working on this would be working very closely together but it will be under the command of the local authorities.
BLITZER: Because Connecticut State Police says the shooter is dead, no one shot at the shooter. So we assume the shooter wound up killing himself as a -- after killing all these young kids and killing these adults, the teachers, the principal and others inside. But potentially if others may have known about this plan, there could be criminal prosecutions of others who may have -- who may have known about it.
FUENTES: Well, there could be. But often there's not in these cases. You may have other members of the family or friends or neighbors who would say, well, I knew he wasn't normal, I knew he had some problems but I didn't think he would go this far, I didn't know he had guns, I didn't know he was planning the event. But that's part of what the investigation is going to be all about in the days ahead, is obtaining his e-mail records and phone records to see who has he been in contact with and what did he tell them. What do others that knew him -- what do they know about his thought process leading up to the event.
(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: You've been involved in law enforcement your whole life. Is there anything we can learn from this and move forward to try to make sure it doesn't happen again?
BLITZER: It's going to happen again?
FUENTES: It's going to happen again. We don't change anything of the basics. We don't -- we haven't made the improvements to our mental health system to take care of people that are severely disturbed. We haven't done anything to prevent the severely disturbed from obtaining the weapons that are so prevalent in our society. So as long as you have disturbed people able to obtain weapons and act out with those weapons --
BLITZER: Because a lot of folks, immediately as soon as they hear this, they'll say, you know, that guns are too -- assault weapons, guns, are too available, too easy to get.
FUENTES: Well, what they say -- what we say now is we can't talk about it. Everybody is in mourning. It's too soon, it's not appropriate. So at the time, later, when it is appropriate, we don't care. And nothing changes.
And I had a daughter at Virginia Tech down the hall from the first shooting, the first two people that were killed in that dorm, 10 rooms away. So that hit home for me very closely. What's changed since then? Not one thing in the state of Virginia has changed. I don't expect much will change here.
BLITZER: Your daughter OK?
BLITZER: OK. Thank God for that. Tom, thanks very much for coming in.
FUENTES: Thank you.
BLITZER: Brian Todd is bringing us some of the most emotional reaction coming in so far today.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The account of a young boy said to be delivering an attendance report to the office at Sandy Hook Elementary School when the shootings took place is surreal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw the boys going past the hall that I was right next to. And then a teacher pulled me into her classroom.
TODD: He said he heard a sound like someone kicking a door. His mother, clinging to him, had words of thanks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just so grateful to the teacher who saved him.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK. You think the teacher saved his life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely did. He had bullets going by him and she grabbed him and another child and pulled them into a classroom.
TODD: Brendan Murray, a fourth grader, described the chaos.
BRENDAN MURRAY, FOURTH GRADER: I was in the gym at the time. And so the teachers -- we hear, like, lots of bangs. And we thought that it was the custodian knocking stuff down. We heard screaming. And so we -- we went on to -- like, we went to the wall and we sat down and then the police came in. It's like, is he in here? Then he ran out. And then our teacher -- somebody yelled, get to a safe place. So we went into the closet in the gym and we sat there for a little while. And then the police, like, were knocking on the door and they're like, we're evacuating people, we're evacuating people.
TODD: CNN is only airing sound of children whose parents gave permission. As one woman walked away from the school, she was heard crying, why, why? A policeman was heard saying, it was the worst thing he'd seen in his career.
A nurse from nearby Danbury Hospital described the scene there as parents waited for word about their children.
MAUREEN KARENS, NURSE WHO RUN TO THE SCENE: These parents were waiting for their 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.
TODD: The father of a young girl who survived was just trying to process it all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was shocking. I have --
BLITZER: All right, here he is, the governor of Connecticut, Dan Malloy.