tv CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley CBS December 14, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
worst school shootings in u.s. history. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. reporting tonight from newtown, connecticut. >> pelley: good evening. the bodies of most of the children killed this morning remain inside sandy hook elementary school tonight, along with the bodies of six adults and the gunman himself. the fire house behind me, decorated for christmas, is where terrorized parents came to find out whether their children were among the living or the dead. some of the victims were as young as five years old. president obama said today what everyone is thinking: we have been through this too many times. sandy hook is a k-4 elementary school with about 700 students. >> somebody came in to the room and shot a teacher. that's all i know.
sorry. >> pelley: parents rushed to the school after getting robocalls that there had been a shooting. at 9:30 this morning police say a gunman, identified as 20-year-old adam lanza, opened fire in a kindergarten classroom where his mother was the teacher. some of her students were among the 20 children killed. in all, 26 people were killed at the school, including the school principal. the police say the gunman then took his own life and later his mother was found dead in her home a few miles away. the motive for the shootings is not known. the investigation is just beginning, but the president said one thing is certain. >> we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this regardless of the politics. >> pelley: we have a team of cbs news correspondents and producers on this still-developing story.
first, jim axelrod here in newtown on how it all began. >> reporter: the school day had just started when the first calls came into police. >> reporter: eight-year-old bear nikitchyuk had turned in his third grade classroom's attendance list seconds before. >> i saw some of the bullets going past the hall that i was right next to and then a teacher pulled me into her classroom. >> reporter: the children describe the sound as pans falling. one heard a scream over the intercom. teachers locked the classroom and crowded their students into corners away from doors and windows. >> i was, like, afraid when we had to go to our cubbies. and we had -- and every door in the building except for the ones in the hallway had to close so -- and we had to lock our doors so the animal couldn't get in.
>> reporter: some children hid in closets. police say the shooting rampage was restrictestricted two-to-tw. >> reporter: as swat teams surrounded the school, state troopers moved students to safety. some children were told to close their eyes to protect them from seeing the carnage. >> newtown police immediately upon arrival entered the school and began a complete act i shooter search of the building. that included checking every door, every crack, every kr *efist have, every portion of that school. >> reporter: inside they found the gunman dead from a self-inflicted wound. outside parents were desperate for information. >> they didn't tell us anything, only what she know which is i don't know if that's accurate so we don't have any information. i don't know. >> reporter: parents cradled their children to protect them from the december cold and the shock of the shooting. some were directed to the fire house to be reunited with their children.
others were pulled aside to a separate room. maureen kerins is a nurse. >> all i can say that one of the cops said it was the worst thing he'd ever seen in his entire career but it was when they told the parents, all these parents were waiting for their children to come out, they thought that they were still alive. there was 20 parents that were just told that their children are dead. it was awful. >> reporter: one six-year-old boy who was in a classroom when the gunman came in and shot the teacher has told his father that as all of this was unfolding at this elementary school down the road, the shooter, scott, never said a word. >> pelley: jim, thank you. police tell us, as jim said, that that silent man was the son of one of the teachers. justice correspondent bob orr has been talking to his sources about what we know about him so far. bob? >> reporter: scott, police tell us that it's clear the gunman was on a mission to kill as many people as possible. he took at least three guns, multiple magazines of ammunition
putting a time stamp on this as to when we will complete this project. >> reporter: sources say lanza died of a self-inflicted gunshot inside the school, but investigators suspect he may have intended to carry out a broader attack. a third gun, a .223 assault rifle, was found outside the school in the back of his mother's car. it's similar to the type of gun used in the shooting on tuesday at a phalg outside of portland, oregon. now, lanza's older brother ryan is still being questioned by police who want to know what he might have known about that attack. sources say at this point-- and they emphasize at this point-- he's not a suspect. investigators say they believe the killing spree began at the home adam lanza shared with his mother who, as we told you, was a kindergarten teacher at sandy hill because, scott, service found dead in the home. >> pelley: bob, thank you. cbs news senior correspondent john miller is a former assistant director of the f.b.i. and john has been talking to his law enforcement sources today. john, there have now been two deadly shootings this week, the
other at a shopping mall in oregon earlier. including the one there, what have we learned from them this week? >> well, this is the kind of thing, scott, that always puts the profilers who study the offender characteristics of these shooters on alert. they're worried about what they call the werther effect. it's a copy cat mechanism and they say their studies show it's particularly powerful effect on adolescents. so in a case where you'll see someone commit suicide in a high school, it's not unusual to see two or three more in a cycle like that. but they also say in this active shooter scenario that happened. so what they believe is it's entirely possible that the oregon incident that most of us found disturbing and troubling, an individual like this might have found that challenging to not just imitate it but to go forward with his plan. they also observed that the fact that he killed his mother and then went about the other
crimes, we believe he killed his mother at the house, shows that this was planned out from the beginning. so that this was a calculated crime. we end to think of these offenders as being crazy. it doesn't mean they're not disturbed, but they are rational enough to act out these plans even under tremendous pressure and during the chaos of their own actions to stick with that plan. >> pelley: john, thank you. one of the parents who rushed to the school is richard willford, when he arrived there the police told him to come to this fire station to see if he could find his seven-year-old son richie among the survivors. he swoebg to wilford a short time ago. >> we jumped out of the car, we wednesday towards the school as close as we could get. my wife interfaced with a police officer who told us that the evacuated kids were in the sandy hook fire department and that we could go there to rendezvous with them. we immediately went in, i want to say we located richie in about two minutes once we came in. we looked around.
there he was. what an amazing moment to -- after going through the here is terror of that to see my son alive. >> pelley: what was that moment like when you spotted him in the fire house. >> to try to describe it with words would probably be inadequate. however i would use words like "joy" "elation" "relief." until you've been through it it's perhaps hard to explain. but it was -- it was an amazing moment. i hugged him. it was -- it was just great. >> pelley: what was that moment like when you were turned away from the school and sent to the fire house. you were essentially being sent to find out whether your son had survived. you didn't know. >> that is correct. the terror does not stop until you reunite with your child. period. there's nothing -- it doesn't matter where they point know. until i see my child, it's still here is terror until that moment. >> pelley: you are one of the luckiest people in this town. >> i would say so, absolutely.
absolutely blessed to have what tonight unfortunately some people are not enjoying what i have right now. and that's painful. because they're members of my community and i can't imagine what their pain is like today. >> pelley: the trauma unit at the hospital in danbury, connecticut, about ten miles away, was immediately mobilized. three victims were taken there and the doctors were read ready to help more, but no more wounded came. jeff glor is at the hospital. >> reporter: scott, two of the children who were taken here died. it's our understanding that one patient is still being treated tonight. when this happened, they had four trauma teams ready but, as you mentioned, one of the most heartbreaking realizations here is that the hospital realized most of the victims would never even leave the school. we spoke with dr. john murphy, who was coordinating coverage
this morning. >> well, i was in the emergency room when we got the call that there would not be any more victims coming. and that was a devastating call to get and the room fell silent when we shared the news and there was a moment of deep grief recognizing what that meant. >> reporter: that most of the victims couldn't be saved. >> that's correct. >> reporter: scott, this is the main hospital in a small town so they're not only dealing with the fact that they were treating these victims but that many hospital employees knew the families and knew some of the children involved. the hospital has been offering counseling to both employees and families all day. >> pelley: jeff, thank you. president obama addressed the nation and at one point he was overcome by the thought of the loss of victims so young. major garrett is at the white house for us tonight. major? >> reporter: scott, the grim
news of this shooting began rippling through the white house about 10:30 a.m. when the president first learned of the tragedy. the oval office briefing from homeland security advisor john brennan alerted the president to the magnitude and the horror of the details to come. about five hours later, when the president appeared in the briefing room, the characteristic bounce in his step was gone and the nation learned this tragedy hit the president like no other. >> 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 the ages of five and ten years old. they had their entire lives ahead of them: birthdays,
graduations, wedding, kids of their own. among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams. so our hearts are broken today. >> reporter: the president also said the nation has endured too many of these mass shootings and for the first time in his presidency he said washington must take meaningful action to prevent similar atrocities. as the president spoke his press secretary jay carney and white house chief of staff sat feet away clutching each other's hands, tears welling in their eyes. >> pelley: major, thank you. we'll be hearing from more of the parents here in newtown, connecticut, wh-s "cbs evening news" continues. to the best vacation spot on earth.
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children, if it was adults telling us when we could get our children. >> reporter: melissa makris was among hundreds of parents desperate to find their children. >> we went in and you just saw lots and lots of kids and crying and parents and you just search for your child's teacher, for your child's face and i heard "mommy, mommy." and there he was sitting there waiting for us. >> reporter: makris's ten-year-old son phillip was in the school gym when the shooting began. >> my son says that those teachers gathered them in a corner and kept them safe. >> reporter: so the teachers are the heroes of today? >> absolutely. they did -- i was a teacher before i became a mom and you always wonder are you going to do what you need to do to protect your kids and those teachers did. phillip describes being pushed in a corner and they kept them safe there and when the police officers came in and said "run, run to the fire station" they ran and that school should be very proud. that principal would be very
proud. >> reporter: makris says her son doesn't understand what happened today and she's not ready to tell him. not yet. it's why she didn't want us to show him on camera. >> we got a miracle. my little boy is okay. and there's a lot of parents tonight that have not gotten that miracle. >> reporter: what would you say to parents in this community who lost their children. >> there are no words. there are no words. we have our children and want to raise them and love them and we're not equipped for this. you don't lose your children. and i get to put my kids to bed tonight and i'm very lucky. >> reporter: melissa makris told us she's taking her son and the rest of her family and she's leaving town for the weekend, if not for longer. scott, there were so many people whose children didn't even go to this school who are still reeling. we saw a woman as she watched her daughter get off the bus, she grabbed her, she hyperventilated, she started crying.
and that is the test. they say this used to be a place where they they felt their kids were safe, but tonight they say newtown will never be the same. >> pelley: thanks, michelle. a lot of parents will put their children to bed with a tear in their eye tonight. what happened today seems beyond imagination and yet the police do extensive training for just this kind of thing. we'll have a story in just a moment. the usual, bob? not today. [ male announcer ] bob has afib: atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem, a condition that puts him at greater risk for a stroke. [ gps ] turn left. i don't think so. [ male announcer ] for years, bob took warfarin, and made a monthly trip to the clinic to get his blood tested. but not anymore. bob's doctor recommended a different option: once-a-day xarelto®. xarelto® is the first and only once-a-day prescription blood thinner for patients with afib
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aids is going to lose. aids is going to lose. >> pelley: the horror here in newtown, connecticut, brought back memories of the 1999 columbine shoot this is colorado. then two students killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher. that attack forced police to rethink their response to school shootings. and we asked wyatt andrews to tell us how those police tactics have changed. >> reporter: when the police first arrived at the sandy hook school, their standing orders were, without hesitation, to go straight inside and confront the gunman. connecticut state police lieutenant paul vance. >> newtown police immediately upon arrival entered the school and began a complete active shooter search of the building. that included checking every door, every crack, sr *ef visio, every portion of that school. >> reporter: that phrase begin active search means do not wait. it's a reaction to the columbine massacre 13 years ago when
dozens of officers waited 46 minutes outside as the shooting continued and at least one victim bled to death. captain drew tracey, then with the montgomery county police in maryland, was incensed by columbine and helped invent the active shooter tactics used today. >> we have to go where we hear the sounds of shoots, we have to go where the broken glass is, where we see the casings on the ground, but we need to corner that threat so that individual or individual cans not take more lives. >> reporter: now the mind-set is, in the minds of the police, not one more victim. >> exactly. >> reporter: after columbine police operations were transformed. by 2007, virginia tech police were trained to go straight toward the gunfire. just this week, police used the same no-wait procedures at the mall shooting in oregon. under the rules, when the shooter has been stopped, then the rescue begins. some of the sandy hook surviving children were led away in an organized line, each one grasping the shoulders of the
child in front, their faces revealing both relief and fear. >> our main objective was to evacuate as quickly and efficiently as possible any and all students and fact you will any the school. >> reporter: this go-first tactic is now so ingrained in the police it's become standard training. but, scott, when police train they're told to expect this, that perhaps a mall, maybe even a high school. they do not expect to go to a grade school. >> pelley: wyatt, thank you. we'll have an update on the shooting in just a moment. you won't take my life.
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>> pelley: back now from newtown, connecticut. according to state records, the three guns recovered in today's shooting were bought legally and were registered to the gunman's mother. police say adam lanza killed 26 people at sandy hook elementary school, 20 of them children as young as five. it is the second deadliest school shooting in american history after virginia tech and by far the worst at an elementary school. lanza, who was 20, was the son of a kindergarten teacher working at the school. some of her students are among the dead and she was found dead in her home earlier today nearby. the police say that adam lanza committed suicide in the school. police are still trying to determine a motive for the shootings. parents often try to shield their children from tragedies such as this, protect them from
the frightening images. but with the pictures all over t.v., it can be hard. seeing the scenes of horror at school very much like theirs can be traumatic and parents do need to talk about it with their children. dr. jon lapook is with us now and, jon, you wonder, how do you start that conversation with a child? >> scott, the first thing is parents have to acknowledge it happened. yes, a terrible thing happened but for you, for you, the world is still a safe place. your school is still a safe place. and parents have to understand that depending on the developmental stage of their kid, they may have a different response. so a young child may be anxious, a teenage boy may have bravado. "if i had a gun i would have just blown him away." throughout it all they have to keep the lines of communication open and they have to most of all stay calm. >> pelley: what should parents be doing this weekend? >> scott, it's so important to maintain a sense of routine and to show the children that the
world has not fallen apart. so whatever they were going to do, they should still do. if they were going to go to a movie, that's okay. if they're going to do exercise, that's fine. the one thing they probably should not do is children should not watch t.v. they don't need to see those images over and over again, especially if their parents aren't around to help interpret them. >> pelley: and what about the long run? >> scott, communication is the most important thing. people talk about talking to your children. the most important thing is to listen to them and nobody's going to know your kids better than you. look after those special little signs. is there a personality change? is there ang sigh any is there a problem sleeping? if you notice these things you may need to have some professional help. >> pelley: jon, thanks very much. a program note for you now. cbs news will bring you a special broadcast with the very latest on the shooting here in connecticut. that will be tonight at 10:00, 9:00 central. some cbs stations will be leaving now for local programming. but for many of you, the "cbs
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only $29 a month for six months. just told that their children were dead. it was awful. >> excuse me, folks, i've got to get out. >> i saw some of the bullets going past the hall then a teacher pulled me into her classroom. >> i just heard the principal was shot and killed. i heard some kids were shot. >> pelley: good evening again and for those of you just joining us, this is a special expanded edition, part of cbs coverage of the school shooting