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Nation & World

Governor recalls breaking news of children’s deaths to parents

(MCT) — HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy broke down and wiped away tears at a capitol news conference Monday as he recalled informing family members from Sandy Hook Elementary School that their children would not be returning.

Malloy had been meeting with family members at a firehouse near the school when it became clear that a number of them still did not know that their children had died. In all, 20 children and seven adults were shot to death by 20-year-old Adam Lanza on Friday before he killed himself.

As he spoke, the governor’s voice grew shaky.

“It was evident to me that there was a reluctance to tell parents and loved ones ... that the person that they were waiting for was not going to return … and that had gone on for a period of time,” Malloy said, coughing quietly.

Malloy said he decided that parents had to be told.

“I made the decision that to have that (uncertainty) go on any longer was wrong.”

Malloy also announced that on Friday at 9:30 a.m. EST there will be a moment of silence for the children and adults who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

He also said he signed an executive order clearing the way for the Sandy Hook students to use Chalk Hill School in the nearby town of Monroe.

The fire marshal of Monroe on Monday said the former Chalk Hill Middle School should be ready “in a matter of days” to house the students. It has not been used as a school since June 2011.

William Davin said he toured the former Chalk Hill School on Monday with state and local fire and building officials. He said contractors are in the process making necessary repairs, and the facility could be ready as early as Tuesday.

“The building is in good shape,” Monroe Superintendent James Agostine said. “It always was a good building.”

Contractors worked at the school Sunday and were back Monday. Furniture will be brought from Sandy Hook Elementary.

“We did not have furniture of that size, but that didn’t matter,” Agostine said. “They wanted to keep their classrooms intact.”

Lt. Brian McCauley of the Monroe Police Department stresses no date has been set for opening the refurbished school to kindergarten through fourth-graders from Sandy Hill Elementary School.

McCauley says there will be a police presence when students arrive.

Meanwhile, classes resumed across the state Monday with increased police presence at many schools in the aftermath of Friday’s shooting.

Schools in Ridgefield — about 20 miles away from Newtown — were put on lockdown around 9 a.m. after a report of a “suspicious person” at a train station near an elementary school. Students at the school were brought into the auditorium and buses were diverted. The lockdown was later lifted.

State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance said officials were “on edge.”

The first funerals for those who died at Sandy Hook took place on Monday. The funeral of Noah Pozner, 6, was held in Fairfield and a funeral for Jack Pinto, 6, was held in Newtown.

On Tuesday, funerals will be held for Jessica Rekos, 6, and James Mattioli, 6. A funeral service will be held for Rachel D’Avino Friday in Bethlehem.

More than 60 funeral directors have agreed to help the families of the victims, said Pasquale Folino, president of the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association and vice president of Thomas L. Neilan & Sons Funeral Home in New London and Niantic.

“Right now we have a team of funeral directors that have volunteered to provide support services, to provide motor equipment, transportation,” he said. “Casket companies are providing caskets, vault companies are providing the vaults.”

In a news conference Sunday, police revealed “the hundreds” of unused bullets Adam Lanza had for the rifle and two semiautomatic pistols he brought to the school Friday morning could have made his victim list longer.

State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance, at a news conference Monday, spoke of a long investigation to come, saying they would analyze every single round of ammunition they recovered. The crime scene will be held “indefinitely” until the investigation is done, he said.

Two adults who survived the shootings are recovering, he said. Both were shot in the “lower extremities.”

Malloy said the sound of police sirens screaming toward the school just after 9:30 a.m. may have cut short the shooting spree.

“We surmise that it was during the second classroom episode that he heard responders coming and apparently at that, decided to take his own life,” Malloy said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Police believe Lanza killed his mother, Nancy, Friday morning inside the Newtown home where he lived with her, and then drove to the school where he shot through a locked glass door. Twelve girls and eight boys, all first-graders, and six school employees, including the principal, were gunned down.

Vance said Sunday that Lanza, 20, used one of the pistols to shoot himself in the head. The state medical examiner’s office said Sunday that it ruled Lanza’s death a suicide. Vance said all the victims in the school had been shot with the rifle.

The medical examiner also said Nancy Lanza, 52, was shot in the head multiple times. Her death has been ruled a homicide.

Neither Malloy nor Vance said Sunday what they think motivated Lanza to kill. A law enforcement official has said police found no letters or diaries that could shed light on a motive, though investigators are examining evidence seized from the Lanza home that may help give them some answers.

Police declined to discuss the evidence or what other information they have learned about Lanza, who has been described as a bright but withdrawn and troubled young man.

On Sunday, police evacuated St. Rose of Lima Church — the site of a vigil for the victims Friday night — during noon Mass after a bomb threat was made.

Brian Wallace, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Bridgeport, said that Monsignor Robert Weiss was in the middle of his homily when it was learned that a threat had been made against the church.

The church, located at 46 Church Hill Road, was evacuated and authorities searched the church and other buildings on the property.

“People do need prayer and silence,” Wallace said. “To interrupt that is a very tragic and difficult thing.”


(Hartford Courant staff writers Julie Stagis, Vanessa de la Torre, Steven Goode, Melissa Traynor, Peter Marteka and William Weir contributed to this report.)

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