independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Connecticut shooting: Parents identified bodies from photos

The parents of the children killed in America's second deadliest mass shooting identified their loved ones from photographs because authorities tried to spare them further agony.

Dr H Wayne Carver, Connecticut's chief medical examiner, said the decision to use photos of facial features was made to make it "easier on the families".

Describing the injuries as "probably the worst" he has seen in more than 30 years, Dr Carver said, "we did not bring the bodies and families into contact", when identifying the victims.

Some of the children had been hit by up to 11 bullets.

"There is a time and place for up-close-and-personal in the grieving process but to accomplish this we felt it would be best to do it this way," he said.

The bodies of the 20 children – who were either aged six or seven – and six teachers killed by Adam Lanza on Friday were moved on Saturday to a medical examiner's 64km away so that autopsies could be performed.

Rambo-style

It has also emerged how Adam Lanza planned his murderous rampage with meticulous precision, destroying his computer's hard drive to hinder investigators and rigging his semi-automatic rifle "Rambo-style" to fire with maximum efficiency.

The 20-year-old gunman was said to have been addicted to violent video-battle games that he played at the large suburban home where he lived alone with his mother, the first victim of his shooting spree.

A special team of criminal psychologists is focusing on his relationship with Nancy Lanza as investigators try to establish a motive for the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Before the rampage, Lanza taped together two cartridge magazines to his Bushmaster .223 calibre rifle so that he could flip between the two with ease.

Dr Carver said Lanza used a technique known to gun enthusiasts as "jungle-taping". This helps explain how the killer was able to wreak so much carnage in a shooting spree that may have lasted barely five minutes.

Dannel Malloy, the governor of Connecticut said Lanza shot himself into the school by firing a volley of bullets through a secured door and then killed himself when he heard police arriving while he was still gunning down children.

That raised the prospect that the death toll might have been even higher if the emergency services had not reached the site so quickly.

Experts

Police found seven terrified children cowering in the cupboard of a second room after Lanza wiped out a first class of six- and seven-year-olds and their two teachers.

"There were 14 coats hanging there and 14 bodies. He killed them all," a law enforcement officer said.

The bullets in the massacre were designed specifically to do a "devastating" amount of damage. Weapons experts believe they were "frangible ammunition" that fragment on impact, inflicting massive wounds.

The weapons were all owned by Mrs Lanza, who was reportedly in bed when he killed her with shots to the head.

Lanza is believed to have fired at least three 30-bullet magazines with chilling accuracy – only two people, both teachers, survived their injuries.

FBI electronics experts are poring over the broken hard drive trying to determine how he planned his killing spree, with whom he exchanged messages and what websites he visited.

Federal agents are also visiting gun stores and shooting ranges across Connecticut amid reports that Mrs Lanza taught her son to shoot. They are also questioning relatives, including Mrs Lanza's ex-husband and her older son, both of whom were estranged from the gunman.

Why Lanza selected the school for his rampage is not known. His mother was initially reported to have been a teacher there, but education officials later denied such a link.

It is believed Lanza attended Sandy Hook before going on to other schools in the town. (© Daily Telegraph London)

analysis

Irish Independent

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