Picture of heroism in the face of tragedy emerges as Newtown grieves for fallen
Dr Carver said the victims were shot with the semi-automatic rifle, which is a military weapon. An assault rifle ban, which was instituted in 1994 but expired in 2004, would have prohibited the legal purchase of such a weapon.
Dr Carver’s descriptions of the wounds also suggested Lanza was armed with high-capacity magazines which carry large quantities of bullets.
Police have identified at least five guns Ms Lanza had acquired legally and had properly registered. Friends and acquaintances described her as a gun enthusiast who had taken her son to a local shooting range.
Ms Lanza and her husband Peter, a tax specialist with General Electric, split up about a decade ago and divorced in 2008. Their other son, Ryan (24) lives in New Jersey.
It remains unclear what steps, if any, Ms Lanza took to safeguard those weapons, and why she would keep them in a home she shared with a son who by several accounts had serious mental health issues.
Ms Lanza’s brother, James Champion, is a former police officer in Kingston, New Hampshire, where she grew up and where gun ownership is common.
‘She prepared for the worst’
Ms Lanza’s former sister-in-law, Marsha Lanza, told the Chicago-Sun Times Ms Lanza kept the guns for personal protection. “She prepared for the worst,” she said.
Ms Lanza was a regular at My Place, a local bar where she was fond of craft beers and a glass of wine. Friends and acquaintances described her as outgoing and friendly. But her landscaper, Dan Holmes, told the Washington Post that she was loath to let people inside her house, and had on one occasion brought a gun outside to show him.
Peter Lanza issued a statement expressing sympathy for the victims and suggesting the gunman’s family was at a loss to explain why he carried out what, besides the 32 people killed at Virginia Tech in 2007, was the worst school massacre in American history. “We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can,” Mr Lanza said.
“We, too, are asking why.”
While most of the families of the victims grieved in private, the father of six-year-old Emilie Parker braved the scrum of cameras and spoke with poignant eloquence about his daughter and what had happened to their idyllic New England town.
Robbie Parker said his last conversation with his daughter was in Portuguese, which he had been teaching her, on Friday morning as he prepared to leave for work and Emilie got ready for school.
“She told me good morning and asked how I was doing. Said I was doing well. She said that she loved me. Gave me a kiss and I was out the door,” he said.
Even as Mr Parker described his daughter as a beautiful, thoughtful girl, he paused to think of the gunman’s family.
“I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you, and I want you to know that our family and our love and our support goes out to you as well,” he said.