Lanza’s mother, for instance, was not a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, after all. She apparently was unemployed. So it was still a mystery why her 20-year-old son — after dressing in black, killing his mother and taking at least three guns from her collection — then drove the five miles to a school where he was a stranger.
The part of the story that remained grimly, awfully unchanged was what Lanza did when he got there.
Authorities on Saturday released the names of those Lanza killed at the school, who ranged in age from 6 to 56. And the state’s medical examiner — speaking in sanitized, clinical terms — described the results of something deeply obscene: a semiautomatic rifle fired inside an elementary classroom.
“I’ve been at this for a third of a century. And my sensibilities may not be the average man’s. But this probably is the worst I have seen,” said H. Wayne Carver II. Carver described the children’s injuries, which he said ranged from at least two to 11 bullet wounds apiece.
He had performed seven of the autopsies himself. A reporter asked what the children had been wearing.
“They’re wearing cute kid stuff,” Carver said. “I mean, they’re first-graders.”
On Saturday, this small New England town and the country played out what is now a familiar ritual: the dumbstruck aftermath of a young gunman’s massacre. Word came that President Obama would arrive Sunday for an evening interfaith service, repeating his role from Fort Hood, Tex.; Aurora, Colo.; and Tucson, Ariz. He would again be chief mourner.
In Connecticut, people who had known Adam Lanza described him as odd, nervous and withdrawn, and they searched their memories for signs they’d missed. Memorials went up. Politicians talked — a little more forcefully this time — about how someone needed to be brave enough to talk about guns and gun control.
And, in Newtown, they started funeral preparations. This time, the ritual was for lives so new that it seemed impossible to speak of them in the past tense.
“He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Rabbi Shaul Praver of Adath Israel, who said that his congregation lost a first-grade boy. “His little body could not endure so many bullets like that.”
On Saturday, law enforcement officials said that Lanza had entered the school by force sometime after 9:30 a.m. Friday. Sandy Hook’s principal, Dawn Hochsprung, had recently installed a new security system in which the school doors were kept locked all day starting at 9:30. But Lanza had apparently shattered the glass in a window or door.