The head of the Connecticut primary school devastated by a shooting rampage was among the victims, an official said today.
Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung was among the 27 people the gunman shot dead, according to Gerald Stomski, a councillor in nearby Woodbury.
Mr Stomski said Ms Hochsprung was a school principal in Woodbury until a few years ago, adding that she had “an extremely likable style”.
She had been head at Sandy Hook Elementary since 2010, and frequently tweeted photos from her job and wrote upbeat tweets about what was going on at the school.
More hauntingly, several publications report she wrote a letter before the school year outlining new safety measures – including locked doors during school hours.
Police said the suspect in the shootings, Adam Lanza, killed his mother at their home before driving her car to the school where he went on the rampage.
Lanza’s mother Nancy was a teacher at Sandy Hook, where the 20-year-old killed another 26 people, including 20 children, before shooting himself dead.
State police said 18 children were found dead at the school and two died later in hospital. Six adults were found dead at the scene. They said the shootings occurred in one section of the school but did not give details.
In New Jersey, Lanza’s older brother Ryan, 24, of Hoboken, told investigators his brother was believed to suffer from a personality disorder and be “somewhat autistic”.
Three guns were found at the scene of the massacre – a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols, and a .223-calibre rifle. The rifle was recovered from the back of a car at the school, and the pistols were found inside the school. Detectives suggested they might have belonged to Ms Lanza.
Hundreds of people attended a church vigil in Connecticut last night to remember the victims of the shooting.
With the St Rose of Lima church in Newtown filled to capacity, hundreds of people stood outside, some holding hands in circles and saying prayers, while others lit candles and sang Silent Night.
State governor Dannel P Malloy was among the speakers at the service.
Investigators are trying to learn as much as possible about Lanza but so far authorities have not spoken publicly of any possible motive. Witnesses said he did not speak during the rampage.
Lanza has been revealed as a high-achieving student who lived in a prosperous neighbourhood with his mother, a well-liked woman who enjoyed hosting dice games and decorating the house for Christmas.
Catherine Urso, who was attending the vigil in Newtown, said her college-age son knew the killer and remembered him for his alternative style.
“He just said he was very thin, very remote and was one of the goths,” she said.
Lanza and his mother lived in a well-to-do part of Newtown, a prosperous community of 27,000 people about 60 miles north east of New York City.
Investigators believe he attended Sandy Hook school several years ago but appeared to have no recent connection to the place.
At least one parent said Lanza’s mother was a substitute teacher there, but her name did not appear on a staff list. Investigators have so far been unable to establish any connection between her and the school.
Lanza attended Newtown High School, and several local news clippings from recent years mention his name among the school’s honour roll students.