Connecticut authorities were preparing to release the names of the 20 children and six adults killed when a gunman unleashed the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Police said all of the victims have been identified, their parents and family notified, and their bodies have been removed from the school, NBC 4 New York reported Saturday. Connecticut state police plan to hold a news conference this morning, where they are expected to release the victims' names.
Twoof those victims is school principal, Dawn Hochsprung, 47, NBC News has confirmed. She was married and had five children of her own.
School psychologist Mary Sherlach was also killed. Sherlach is survived by her husband of 31 years, Bill, and her 25- and 28-year-old daughters.
Hundreds of mourners gathered in Newtown —a town of 28,000 people 60 miles north of New York City— Friday night to remember the students and teachers lost in the tragedy. So many people had shown up for a vigil at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church that dozens, unable to get in, watched the service through open windows and doorways.
“I think about these children … and I know we have 20 new saints, 20 new angels,” Monsignor Robert Weiss told the standing-room-only crowd. “But that doesn’t take away the pain. It doesn’t take away the hurt. But it does bring us closer together.”
Earlier in the morning, 20-year-old Adam Lanza (pictured below) had stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire. Newtown Police Lt. George Sinko said on NBC's "Today" show it appeared Lanza shot his way into the school by shattering glass by the front door.
By the time his shooting rampage had ended, 20 small children and six adults had been killed. He, too, was found dead at the scene. A woman believed to be his mother was also found shot dead in a Newtown home. School's superintendent Dr. Janet Robinson told "Today" that there was no Nancy Lanza in their database. She may have been a substitute teacher, but it was unclear.
Investigators spent hours questioning Lanza's 24-year-old brother Ryan, who told them that Adam had a history of mental health issues and that they had not spoken in two years, NBC News reported.
It was the second-deadliest school shooting in American history, second only to the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting that killed 32.
President Obama, addressing the nation for the second time, said Satuday that in his weekly radio and Internet address that "every parent in America has a heart heavy with hurt."
On Friday, Obama teared up as he talked about the young victims.
“The majority of those who died today were children. Beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old," he said at a news conference. "They had their entire lives ahead of them. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.
"So our hearts are broken for them today."
Two 9mm handguns recovered at scene—a Glock and a Sig Sauer—were legally purchased and registered to the shooter’s mother, Nancy Lanza.
“We have a mountain of evidence, both physical and forensic,” Lt. Sinko said on "Today." “Obviously we’re not going to leave any stone unturned.”
Students and parents described a scene of terror when the shots rang out early Friday morning. Witnesses said the attack occurred during morning announcements.
The brother of one student said his sister had heard screams coming over the intercom.
“When they were leaving the room … (state police) were telling the students to hold hands and close their eyes until they were outside,” he said.
Back at the vigil, mourners wrote messages on three easels erected at the entrance to the church.
"May God look after and take care of your little angels," one wrote. "We are so so sorry for your loss. God bless your families. His strength will guide you."
Another wrote: "Sleep in heavenly peace."
Becky Mantone, who drove three of her daughters from nearby Fairfield to the vigil, said she didn't know anyone directly impacted by the attack, but felt compelled to take part so they could provide some small bit of comfort to their neighbors.
"We wanted to give our support to this town," Mantone said while she and her daughters stood in a circle, cradling lit candles outside the church. "I hope people would help our town if God forbid something happened to us."
As the investigation continues, officers have been assigned to the parents so the information is communicated directly to them, according to state police.
Photo Credit: AP