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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
The US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
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

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'