A Methodical Massacre: Horror And Heroics

A steady stream of mourners visited the site throughout the day, leaving mementos, paying their respects and offering prayers and comfort for each other. (Cloe Poisson)

During a search of Lanza's mother's home, police found her body in her bed. She had been shot twice in the head. Authorities have not determined the time between when Adam Lanza killed his mother and left for Sandy Hook Elementary.

Before entering the home, a law enforcement source said that police used a robotic device to search the structure for explosive devices. None apparently were found.

Lanza occupied two of the home's bedrooms, the source said. He is believed to have slept in and kept his clothing in one, and used the other bedroom to store possessions, including his computer.

Two law enforcement sources said the hard drive had been removed from Lanza's computer and broken in pieces. They said that forensic electronics experts at the FBI will examine the drive in an effort to determine with whom Lanza corresponded electronically and how he otherwise used the device.

One of the sources said that Lanza used the computer to play a violent video game in which life-like characters engage in graphic battle scenes.

Police investigators were still stunned Saturday by the scene they encountered at the school a day earlier, in particular by the seven surviving — but shocked — children hiding silently in the closet in Soto's classroom.

Officers found the children during the initial, rushed search of the building for survivors.

"Finally, they opened that door and there were seven sets of eyes looking at them," a law enforcement officer familiar with the events said Saturday. "She tried to save her class" he said of Victoria Soto.

She was shot not far from her desk, from which she had hung drawings on which her students had written captions such as, "I love my teacher Miss Soto."

Police heard what sounded like a child's moans from where the bodies of the children in Rousseau's classroom had collapsed together. Police had to move several bodies to reach an injured boy, who died en route to Danbury Hospital.

Mary Ann Jacob, a library clerk, had 18 fourth-graders with her in a classroom when the shooting started. They heard it over the school's intercom system.

"The intercom had opened up so we could hear some confusion in the office," Jacob said. "So I called the office because I thought it was a mistake and that they didn't realize the intercom was on. The secretary answered and she said there's shooting. So we yelled 'lockdown' in our room and then ran across the hall and yelled 'lockdown' in the classroom across."

"You could hear the shots. They sounded like popping noises, so we tried to minimize it with the kids," she said. "I don't think until we opened the door and there were 15 state cops with these gigantic guns and federal agents escorting the kids out that they really realized what was going on."

Art teacher Leslie Gunn said she was beginning a class on sculpturing clay with 23 fourth-graders when the shooting began. Her first thought was that the sounds of what turned out to be gunshots were a work crew making repairs to the school roof.

"It got really loud," Gunn said. "It was too loud. Something was bad."

Shaking, she dialed 911 frantically but was unable to get through to the police. Eventually she reached her husband.

"I told him I don't know what is going to happen to us."

A couple of the fourth-grade boys started to cry.

"I told the kids something is wrong and we are just going to have to stay here," Gunn said. "I said I love you. And you are all so brave.''

They remained in the room for about 15 minutes. They heard someone banging on the door to the classroom. When she realized that it was the police, she let them in and spoke to her students

"I told the kids [to] hold each other's hands and not let go," Gunn said.

Courant staff writer Matthew Conyers contributed to this story.