In the car, authorities said, were three guns: a .223 caliber “Bushmaster” rifle and two pistols, a Sig Sauer and a Glock.
At the school, authorities said, Adam Lanza shot and killed six adults — including the school’s principal — and 20 children. They were shot in two different rooms of the school, police said.
Police were called to the school after 9:35 a.m., and officers searched the classrooms for a shooter. When they found the gunman, however, he was dead by his own hand. No officer fired a shot.
One other person was injured in the shooting, but survived.
Friday’s shooting became the second-deadliest in U.S. history, after the rampage that killed 32 students at the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va. It happened in a country that had grown darkly accustomed to public shootings: just five months before, another gunman had killed 12 in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in July.
But the sheer scale of Friday’s killing — and the nature of its victims, small children shot in the sanctuary of a school — deepened its horror, and unleashed a shaking kind of grief.
President Obama, in one of his most emotional speeches as president, wiped away tears as he spoke about the shooting from the White House’s briefing room. “Our hearts are broken today,” Obama said. He promised “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this,” but did not say specifically what he might do.
“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 five and 10 years old,” Obama paused, seemingly unable to continue for a few moments. “They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.”
Dorothy Hanson, who is the suspect’s grandmother and Nancy Lanza’s mother, said in a brief phone interview Friday that she could not fathom the violence that ended their lives.
“I just can’t cope with it right now,” Hanson said through tears. “She was my daughter, and a beautiful girl and I loved her. I just can’t make any more comments than that right now.”
Among the dead was the school’s principal, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, according to law enforcement sources. Press reports said Hochsprung had been the school’s principal since 2010, and had been a schools administrator for 12 years before that. Local news organizations reported that she was married, with two daughters and three stepdaughters.
“She was always enthusiastic, always smiling, always game to do anything,” said Kristin Larson, a former secretary of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association. In a phone interview, Larson choked up as she recalled Hochsprung hugging students at the start of the school year. “She wanted them to do well in school,” Larson said, “but she also wanted them to have fun.”