School resumes for Newtown students, new details emerge in investigation
(CNN) — Across this devastated town, students returned to schools Tuesday, marking the beginning of a new reality.
With their sense of normalcy shattered after last week’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, students at other schools are seeing more police and counselors, and teachers who face a new, tremendous burden.
Classes would discuss the tragedy in an age-appropriate manner, the teachers’ union said.
But the young children of Sandy Hook aren’t resuming school yet. And when they do, it will be in a different building.
Their school is a crime scene, the site where 20 kids and six faculty members were gunned down.
For Sandy Hook kids, no school until January
The current plan is for the children to resume school in January at the former Chalk Hill Middle School, eight miles away in neighboring Monroe, Newtown Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson said in a letter to parents.
“We need to tend to our teachers’ and students’ needs to feel comfortable after this trauma in this new place,” she wrote.
Teachers may call parents “to invite you to visit Chalk Hill with your child this week to walk around and see the classroom and get familiar with this new Sandy Hook home.”
At least two more victims, 6-year-olds Jessica Rekos and James Mattioli, had burials scheduled for Tuesday.
Across town, hearses can be seen traveling along roads with police escorts. Some have tiny coffins. Onlookers break down crying at the sight.
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The gunman’s computer
Investigators have so far been unable to retrieve data from a computer taken from the home of the gunman, Adam Lanza, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.
It appears that Lanza had smashed the computer, extensively damaging the hard drive, the official said, adding that the FBI is assisting Connecticut State Police in trying to retrieve data from the computer.
Grim new details
Lanza’s mother was shot four times in the head while she slept in her bed, Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver said Tuesday.
Adam Lanza killed himself with a shot to the front of his head from a handgun, the medical examiner said.
Toxicology tests are under way to determine whether Adam Lanza had taken medicines, Carver said.
Shedding new light on the gunman
While Carver said he was told that Adam Lanza had Asperger’s syndrome, officials are working to determine whether that diagnosis was correct, and whether he may have had other diagnosable problems.
A former director of security for Newtown Public Schools shed new light Monday night on the gunman, Adam Lanza.
Richard Novia said Lanza had Asperger’s syndrome, based on documents and conversations with Lanza’s mother, who was killed shortly before the Sandy Hook massacre.
Novia said that as part of his job, which he left in 2008, he would be informed of students who might pose problems to themselves or others.
He also said he received “intake information,” which he said “is common for any students troubled or impaired or with disabilities.” The idea was to keep track of and help students who may need it.
However, Novia said he never thought Lanza was a threat and certainly never thought he was capable of such violence.
Russ Hanoman, a friend of Lanza’s mother, previously told CNN that Lanza had Asperger’s and that he was “very withdrawn emotionally.”
CNN has not been able to independently confirm whether Lanza was diagnosed with autism or Asperger’s, a higher-functioning form of autism. Both are developmental disorders, not mental illnesses.
Many experts say neither Asperger’s syndrome nor autism can be blamed for the rampage.
“There is absolutely no evidence or any reliable research that suggests a linkage between autism and planned violence,” the Autism Society said in a statement. “To imply or suggest that some linkage exists is wrong and is harmful to more than 1.5 million law-abiding, nonviolent and wonderful individuals who live with autism each day.”
Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist and autism expert at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, also said the gunman’s actions can’t be linked to autism spectrum disorders.
“Aggression and violence in the ASD population is reactive, not preplanned and deliberate,” he said.
Growing debate over gun laws
What happened in Newtown should never happen again, advocates on both sides of the gun control debate agree. But they’re at staunch odds about how to turn words into reality.
The grassroots group Newtown United is sending a delegation to Washington on Tuesday to meet with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence as well as families from July’s movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado.
The new group, which formed out of Newtown on Sunday, aims to create meaningful dialogue — both locally and beyond — about what may have led to the tragedy.
Two national polls conducted shortly after the Newtown shootings suggest that more Americans want stricter gun control.
In a Washington Post/ABC News poll, 54% of adults favor stricter gun control laws in the country, while 43% oppose.
And a new CBS News poll indicates that 57% of Americans back stricter gun laws, the highest percentage in a decade; 30% think gun laws should be kept as they are.
However, less than half of the respondents in the CBS poll — 42% — think stricter gun laws would have helped prevent the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia and a “proud gun owner,” said he’s now committed to “dialogue that would bring a total change” after the massacre in Newtown.
“Who would have ever thought, in America or anywhere in the world, that children would be slaughtered?” he asked. “It’s changed me.”
The debate is playing out not just in Newtown and Washington, but across the United States.
John Licata told CNN’s iReport there needs to be better vetting before people buy guns, and assault weapons should be banned — something Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, says she’ll propose once the new Congress convenes in January.
But some say the shooting illustrates the need for more armed guards — and possibly armed teachers — in schools.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that if school districts decide that arming teachers is the best way to keep schools safe, so be it.
If Texas residents are duly background-checked, trained and have a concealed handgun license, “you should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in the state,” Perry said, according to CNN affiliate WFAA.
Gun owner Jameson Riley of Colorado said recent mass shootings have made him consider getting a concealed-weapon permit.
“I have a 2-year-old daughter, and she is the light of my life,” Riley said. “And I would like to protect her.”
Out of respect for the Newtown victims and their families, Dick’s Sporting Goods has removed all guns from its store closest to Newtown, the company said.
Dick’s, one of the largest sporting goods retailers in the world, also has suspended the sale of some semiautomatic rifles nationwide, the company said.
It was unclear how long Dick’s will keep its suspension of “modern sporting rifles.”
Two very premature funerals
While adults and children try to move on, two more 6-year-olds from Sandy Hook were being laid to rest Tuesday.
Jessica Rekos was obsessed with horses — horse books, horse movies, drawing horses and writing stories about them. She was eagerly anticipating a pair of cowgirl boots for Christmas.
As her relatives grieve, they are also “trying to help her brother Travis understand why he can’t play with his best friend,” her family said.
James Mattioli liked to remind everyone that he was 6 and three-quarters. “He would often sing at the top of his lungs, and once asked, ‘How old do I have to be to sing on a stage?'” his family wrote in an obituary.
In an online posting about his funeral, the Mattioli family called James “our beloved prince.”
Also on Tuesday, the family of 6-year-old Charlotte Bacon planned to hold calling hours, or visitation.
Charlotte was a bundle of energy under her distinctive red curls. She also loved school and dresses, her grandmother told CNN affiliate WCCO in Minnesota.
Calling hours are also being held for 7-year-old Daniel Barden on Tuesday.
His “fearless” pursuit of happiness and life earned him two missing front teeth and ripped jeans, his family says. His mother described him as “just so good.”
There are also calling hours Tuesday for Victoria “Vicki” Soto, a 27-year-old teacher who moved her students away from a classroom door when she heard gunfire. She was a hero, cousin James Wiltsie said.
The funerals will carry on for days. Some residents in this emotionally drained community plan to attend many this week.
CNN’s Susan Candiotti reported from Newtown; Holly Yan and Greg Botelho reported from Atlanta. CNN’s Sandra Endo, Josh Levs, Miriam Falco, Wayne Drash, Carol Cratty, Paul Steinhauser and David Williams contributed to this report.