Evidence of gunman's motives found in Connecticut mass shooting investigation as police say he 'forced his way into school'

Principal Dawn Hochsprung reportedly lunged at Lanza before being shot

The gunman behind one of the worst mass school shootings in American history forced his way into the building, police said today, as they revealed they had found evidence that could explain his motives.

Adam Lanza, 20, is believed to be the man behind the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut yesterday, which left 20 young children and six adults dead.

Lanza, described as suffering from a personality disorder and being "somewhat autistic" by his older brother Ryan, 24, had already killed their mother Nancy at their home in the town, and shot himself after the slaughter in the school, which he carried out using three guns.

The bloodbath brought despair and horror to a smalltown USA community, 60 miles north-east of New York City, preparing for the Christmas holidays.

State Police Lieutenant Paul Vance told a press conference this afternoon: "Our investigators at the crime scene - the school - and secondarily at the secondary crime scene we discussed, where the female was located deceased, did produce some very good evidence in this investigation that our investigators will be able to use in, hopefully, painting the complete picture as to how, and more importantly, why this occurred," he said.

He also confirmed the gunman forced his way into the school, adding: "It is believed he was not voluntarily let into the school at all, that he forced his way into the school, but that is as far as we can go on that."

The mass killing has prompted fresh debate about the need for gun control in the US, as tales emerged of heroism by teachers and other staff to protect the children.

Principal Dawn Hochsprung reportedly lunged at Lanza before being shot.

Board of Education chairwoman Debbie Liedlien told Associated Press that administrators were coming out of a meeting when the gunman forced his way into the school, and they ran toward him.

Jeff Capeci, chairman of the town's legislative council, was asked whether Ms Hochsprung is a hero. He replied: "From what we know, it's hard to classify her as anything else."

Maryann Jacob, who worked in the library, told today how she led 18 children to safety by crawling with them to a storage room and waiting for the police to arrive.

She said they barricaded the door with filing cabinets, only opening it when a police officer slid an identification badge underneath.

Lanza shot dead 18 children aged between five and 10 and six adults at the school where his mother Nancy was a teacher, before killing himself.

Two other children shot at the scene died in hospital later.

Friends and family members today described the Newtown High School student variously as intelligent, nerdy, a goth and remote.

His girlfriend and another friend are still missing in New Jersey, a police source told AP.

The attack was the latest of several mass shootings in the US this year and carries echoes of the Dunblane massacre, where 16 schoolchildren and one teacher were killed by gunman Thomas Hamilton in the Scottish town in 1996.

It approached the deadly scale of the Virginia Tech university massacre in 2007 that left 32 dead.

The United States also is still reeling from the "Batman" shootings in Aurora, Colorado, in June.

Alleged killer James Holmes, 24, is awaiting trial charged with 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder after the cinema shootings which left 12 people dead and 58 wounded.

In another incident today a gunman was shot dead by police after opening fire in St Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, injuring an officer and two employees.

Two pistols - a Glock and a Sig Sauer - were found inside the Newtown school, while a .223-calibre rifle was recovered from the back of a car at the site and officers are currently determining whose they are.

Lt Vance said that the identity of those killed had been confirmed and that they would be released as soon as possible.

Condolences flooded in for those killed, led by the Queen and Prime Minister David Cameron in the UK, with others from figures including Pope Benedict XVI.

President Barack Obama had made a televised address to the nation on Friday night, saying "our hearts are broken today".

The same night hundreds of people packed the town's St Rose of Lima church and stood outside in a vigil for the 28 dead in total, including the gunman.

Lt Vance said investigators were "peeling back the onion" of Lanza's life, including family and friends.

"We still have major crime detectives and Newtown detectives working at the scene in the school," he continued.

"That is not completed, that probably will not be completed for at least another day-and-a-half to two days. I'm not putting a time limit on it, it could take longer.

"It's going to be a long, painstaking process."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz