Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting in Connecticut Coverage; Father of Victim Sends Thoughts, Prayers to Suspect's Family
Aired December 15, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. From Newtown, Connecticut, I'm Anderson Cooper back for a special edition of "360" tonight.
This is the small town where this crime, it shocked the entire nation just one day ago. And police tonight are still combing through what they call every crack and crevice. Those are their words, of the elementary school where a gunman shot 26 people, most of them six and 7-year-olds, hard to believe, still, six and 7-year-olds.
They're also at the home of the man identified as the shooter, trying to learn any clues they can about why he did what he did, why this school in particular.
President Obama will be here tomorrow visiting the families of the victims, the 20 kids and the six adults killed in the school. Also, talking to first responders and talking at a prayer vigil tomorrow evening.
Ad we are learning more about those young victims tonight, those 12 girls and eight little boys shot dead in their classrooms. Most of what we're learning is from their parents who are sharing their grief very publicly tonight.
I want to talk with Kyung Lah now also here in Newtown.
You were there earlier when the father of Emilie Parker came out of his house and wanted to tell people, wanted to talk to TV cameras and just talk in a very human way about his daughter, about what she was like, about the life she lived.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And he was very clear that the reason he wanted to come out and face cameras, you know, he knows this is national television, he wanted to make sure that people across the country knew that he wanted to say thank you. And he also wanted to share a message, that we're better than this, that society cannot be defined by this single act. He lost a 6-year-old girl.
And it's one thing to think about the number. It's a totally different thing to watch this man talk, to look at the pictures of this beautiful girl and to fully comprehend that this family has suffered a true, true loss. Here's what he told us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBBIE PARKER, EMILIE PARKER'S FATHER: I was leaving to work, and she woke up before I left. And I've actually been teaching her Portuguese. And so, our last conversation was in Portuguese. And she told me good morning. And asked how I was doing. And I said that I was doing well. She said that she loved me and I gave her a kiss and I was out the door.
As the deep pain begins to settle into our hearts, we find comfort reflecting on the incredible person that Emilie was and how many lives that she was able to touch in her short time here on earth.
Emilie was bright, creative and very loving. My daughter Emilie would be one of the first ones to be standing and giving her love and support to all those victims because that's the type of person that she is, not because of any parenting that my wife and I could have done but because those were the gifts that were given to her by her heavenly father.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: And he also said that he was very proud to be her father, that, he was going to be the best father he could to his two remaining children, a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old girl, her sisters. He did also say that he wanted to make sure that he extended his condolences to the shooter's family because they also suffered a loss, Anderson. And the thing that's really extraordinary is how he's able to get his message out and still keep it together. It's really -- it's hard to watch and to comprehend.
COOPER: How does a father tell a three and a 4-year-old daughter that their sister, their big sister is gone? It's just incredible.
Kyung Lah, appreciate you reporting tonight.
Residents of Stratford, Connecticut, remember one victim as a falling hero. People wore green in honor of Victoria Soto who grew up in Stratford. She was 27-years-old. She taught first grade at Sandy Hook elementary. And they were wearing those colors because that was her favorite color, green.
Jason Carroll joins me now, more on the vigil.
It sounds as though the community really adored that teacher and really, tonight wanted to kind of show that in a very public way.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're exactly right, Anderson. That's exactly what happened here tonight. The family saying that it basically all started on facebook with a facebook message, let's get together, let's find out a way to honor Victoria, Vicki, as her family and trends called her. Victoria Soto.
And so, that's what they did. They came out here tonight, Anderson, in front of her high school. This is where everyone knew her. Everyone was talking about her saying she wanted to be a teacher ever since she was a little girl and they talked about how dedicated this young woman was to her students. In fact, she didn't even refer to them as students. She always referred to them as her kids, her children. And out here tonight, as you can imagine with her sister being here, her brother being here, her parents being here, her cousin here as well, as everyone gathered together and hugged each other, they struggled to find ways to remember her.
I spoke to one young woman who knew Vicki Soto throughout her entire life. Listen to how she spoke about her tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH CARROZZA, FAMILY FRIEND OF VICTORIA SOTO: She was always at the house smiling. She drove us to cheerleading practices a couple of times. I'm also a teacher and I can't even imagine going through what she went through. I think her putting herself out there -- she's just an angel and she just went straight into heaven. There's no doubt about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: As you can see, Anderson, obviously, it's an emotional struggle for so many people out here tonight. At one moment, Carley Soto, she's 19-years-old. She stood in front of the several hundred people who gathered out here tonight and she spoke just briefly, just for a moment she reminded the audience to hug your loved ones. She said because you just never know when you're ever going to see them again.
It was a very powerful moment as the family paid tribute to a woman who they say was a dedicated teacher, a loving daughter and someone who loved her children or her students - Anderson.
COOPER: One family says they owe their son's life to Vicki Soto. They spoke with Kate Bolduan about their child's ordeal yesterday and how she's coping with what he's seen.
KATE BOLDUAN, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Robert and Diane Licata had two children at that elementary school yesterday, a second-grader and their son in first grade who they say it is a miracle he made it out alive after coming face to face with the shooter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT LICATA, FATHER OF ONE OF SOTO'S STUDENTS: That's when they heard noises that they initially thought were hammers falling. Then they realized that it was gunshots. And Ms. Soto, who was Aiden's teacher, had the presence of mind to move all the children to a distance away from the door on the side of the room furthest away from the door. And that's when the gunman burst in, did not say a word, no facial expressions, and proceed to shoot their teacher. And they basically ran right next to the guy and out the door.
BOLDUAN: They ran past the gunman.
LICATA: They ran past the guy. He's still standing in the door and they ran past him and ran down the hallway and they're one of the closest rooms to the main entrance. And Aiden was -- had the presence of mind to hold the door for one of his classmates. And then, there was another one of his classmates that was a little behind, waited for him and they all ran out to the main road all the way down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And of course, we know his teacher, Victoria Soto, died in that classroom trying to protect her students.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: He knows his teacher was shot. Do you think he knows that she likely did not make it?
DIANE LICATA, MOTHER OF ONE OF SOTO'S STUDENTS: He keeps asking about her. And I think he's reassuring himself that she's going to be OK. He really, really cared about his teacher. He was very close with her. And she really loved that class. And he keeps saying, I really hope she's OK, I hope it's not her. He knows that she's been hurt but he doesn't know the end result. He knows the kids that he saw getting shot. He doesn't know the outcome.
So I think he's reassuring himself in his 6-year-old mind. I know he's processing it. But I think he's reassuring himself. I think he's telling himself that it's going to be OK. We had to put the sign out in the front today asking people not to ring the doorbell because he still hasn't internalized the fact that this gunman, this bad guy is gone. And he wants to know if there are more bad guys in the world. And I don't know how to answer that question properly. And so when someone rings the doorbell, he thinks it's him coming back -- coming for him.
And so he -- so I think our biggest concern now is making sure that we handle his sensitive nature properly and carefully and support him and support our daughter because she again does process things very differently than he does. So that's our job as parents now is to stay close to them, hold them, hug them, love them and let them know that they are safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: The Licatas did not want their children to be part of the interview. But I did spend time with them this morning. And Aiden and his sister, they seemed in high spirits, but clearly shaken. And as hard as it has been for this family, they say that their hearts go out to the so many other families who cannot go home and hug their children tonight - Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Kate, thank you.
One of the busiest places in Newtown, Connecticut, today may have been the grief counseling center, both victims and those affected by what happened Friday got the chance to speak to someone if they wanted about what they were feeling. For some, the healing comes in honoring those victims. All day long, people have been creating giant memorials to those who were killed. I'm joined now by our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta who was at that counseling center earlier. And we're looking at a picture there of one of the makeshift memorials that's sprung up, so often sprung up in tragedies like this, people to spontaneously expressing their sorrow, expressing their grief and their remembrances in ways large and small.
You have actually been looking at studies about how kids in this age range, young kids, deal with witnessing a traumatic event.
DOCTOR SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, PTSD is something we typically think of with adults. We don't talk about them with children very much and certainly children this young. It exists very much so the way that they, you know, they're behavior is different. They don't have the flashbacks, the sort of hyper-vigilance that we associate with PTSD. Oftentimes you see it in the way they play. Sometimes you see it in the way that they regress. So, they may start acting younger. They may be more clingy. They may have temper tantrums. Then, they may just have behavior that seems out of sorts. And oftentimes, caregivers don't know what to make of it, but it can be a form of (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: And this sort of -- the timetable, does it play out immediately or is it something that shows outpatient months later?
GUPTA: No, it often shows up very early. And that was a very important point because if you notice it early, that's pretty normal, I mean, you know, for both adults and children alike. If it turns into nightmares, anxiety or loss of sleep, that's when usually it's time to try and maybe get some help.
And we talked about this a little bit last night, Anderson. But if you look at the study specifically on sleep, it's compelling stuff. If somebody gets good sleep, good quality sleep, you can predict much more accurately how well they're going to be able to cope in the long run. And that sleep in the first few nights, last night, tonight, parents watching their child's sleep patterns tonight, is really important.
COOPER: Definitely fascinating.
COOPER: Something we talked about a couple of hours ago, and I just think it bears repeating because I think it has concerned a lot of parents, parents whose kids are on the spectrum of autism or have Asperger's. Yesterday, there had been a quote from the brother of the shooter who thought his brother had a form of autism. There has been stories of Asperger's syndrome which is some set of autism and that also had a personality disorder. It is easy to link those two things together. Autism is not a personality disorder. And - so, let's just clarify --
GUPTA: Yes, because as you always say, Anderson, terms do matter here. And when you talk about autism or anything on the autism spectrum as they call it, it's a neuron-developmental disorder. It's something that happened in the brain since time of birth. That's can be very different than a personality disorder or even a mental illness which could come on later in life. But, I think the more crucial point is it's not associated with sort of planned violence. It just isn't.
COOPER: I've never heard of a young person with autism committing a pre-planned act of violence.
GUPTA: I hadn't either. But, you know, today, you know because we talked about this last night. I went and looked at the studies again. The study that everyone quotes is a study of about 132 people, that's not a huge study but it's one of the biggest studies out there. And of those 132, there were only three sorts of episodes of violence. As you mentioned, none of them preplanned. There's no link. I think I can safely say there's no link between autism spectrum and preplanned violence. We can dispel that --
COOPER: And there are so many kids who are now diagnosed somewhere on the autism spectrum. You know, I've heard from a lot of parents out there, on twitter and elsewhere, kind of outraged that even people are kind of using the term autism and linking it somehow to the shooting. And again, you just clarified --
GUPTA: Yes. I hope they're watching because, I think it's an educational point. That's just not true. That's not just true.
COOPER: What are you going to be kind of -- what should parents be watching for, do you think, in the next couple of days?
GUPTA: I think, you know, there is a -- there's a lot of normal sort of grief that's going on. I think, you know, obviously with children, it's not going to be sort of the thing -- it's not going to be the things you might expect. You know, adults have a much better way of verbalizing these things.
I think it's important for parents to know and again, a lot of experts have been saying this. But this is normal in the first few days. What happens is that if it progresses longer term, then people do need to get help. There is help available here p phone lines but also a grief center available. If it's persistent, that help needs -- there's not enough thinking of mental illness or these types of problems with physical illness as it is. We tend to put these things in different buckets. So, the idea that you think about mental illness as you do in cardiac disease, diabetes, cancer -
COOPER: But, if is just so not the case in the society and really does need to change. It really need to --
GUPTA: It's stigmatized. There is not enough resources. And you know, we talk about it in situations like this. But hopefully it will catch on.
COOPER: And for parents who have a child with some sort of mental disorder -- and there's a lot we don't know about this shooter. They are still trying to learn. But we have seen in past cases, in the Virginia tech instance where parents tried to get help for the child or for the young adult. And unless that person can be proved to be violent or is a threat to themselves or somebody else, they often can't get help.
GUPTA: That's right. Parents can anguish over this. It's not the parents that miss the signs. Oftentimes, they knew the signs but couldn't get help. And by the way, you mentioned Virginia tech, three months later, three-quarters of the students still had some form of PTSD.
GUPTA: So, this can last quite a long time.
COOPER: Sanjay, thank you. Important information tonight.
A lot more ahead. We are going to take a short break. Our coverage continues from here in Newtown. We will be right back.
COOPER: If you've been watching a lot of coverage of this tragedy, you no doubt know the name of the shooter by now. I just want you to know, we are not, during this broadcast, using the name of the shooter. You probably already know, there's no need to repeat it over and over and over again. Often it seems that in history remembers the names of murderers and not the names of victims. And I think that's -- I just think that it shouldn't be. So we're trying to do what we can to not contribute to that name being out there and being known as a household name from here on out.
Well, witnesses to the shooting yesterday say that the first shots rang out and just as the morning announcements were being read at the elementary school and police are trying to hammer down exactly what happened before that moment.
Tom Foreman breaks it down for us right now with what investigators know so far -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, police are essentially constructing a map of all of the places that might have had connections to this shooter. For example, his brother's apartment down here in New Jersey across New York up into Connecticut, his mother's house where she was found dead, it only about three miles away, of course, the school, to try to figure out what led him to this spot at that time. Because they do believe that shortly after murdering his mother, he did drive the few miles from her house to this school and emerge in this parking lot with weapons very much like these to go into the school.
Now, let's look at the time line of what happened because that's really what they're trying to reconstruct. About 9:30 in the morning, that's when we believe based on eyewitness accounts and police radio, that he probably left his car, we think this is the one over here, based on the investigation, and came up to the front of the school. It's also when he encountered his first obstacle because this is where the security doors were installed to keep people out. Police later said the glass had been broken out of these. That's apparently how he got into the school with those weapons. What we know for sure is based on police reports, by 9:36, we had our first calls into the police station saying that shooting was occurring inside the school and, of course, everybody within the school was alerted to the sound of the gunfire. If they didn't hear it directly, they heard it over the P.A. system in this school where announcements were being made at that time even though all the shootings took place in relatively small area up here.
And this is also significant, by 9:38, two to 2 1/2 minutes later, police were saying if not all the shooting, a bulk of the shooting was over, a very short period of time in a very small area where it all seemed to occur. What happened after that? Well, it progressed even further.
By about 9:40 in the morning, police were calling for emergency medical technicians to come there, for ambulances to come. A very few minutes later, they called for a whole lot more ambulances to come. And by 9:50 or so in the morning, they were essentially saying the scene was secure. They had a suspect who was down. They had cleared the building. That many of the children were being led out, as you can see in this photograph from the Newtown bee. And that the situation was more or less secure.
There is still a lot of work to be done obviously. But as you can see, as we look at this time line closer and closer, it's coming down to a very short period of time, 20 minutes or less from the beginning to the end of this in terms of people really knowing what was happening. And now this huge, long, long search to understand why it happened - Anderson.
COOPER: Tom, thanks very much. We want to go to our David Ariosto who's in the neighborhood of where the mother of this shooter lived.
David, what are you learning about this lady?
DAVID ARIOSTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, this is like you said, this where that first murder took place before the shooter headed over to that elementary school. And we have talked to neighbors in and around the area here. And they paint a picture of a woman who was killed right before that shooting. They describe her sort of as this pleasurable woman, this woman who was a very pleasant person to be around, someone who loved gardening, someone who talked about landscaping, someone who attended a sort of a monthly chess game, excuse me, a dice game with many people in the neighborhood.
It's a tight-knit community in this southwestern Connecticut town. And even though you can't really get a sense of it now, it is one of the more picturesque places I'm standing in a rolling Green Hills and quite an affluent neighborhood, two and three-story homes. The thinking is many of the people in this area moved to this area because of the school systems. And so, it strikes a particular chord that this occurred within an elementary school.
But then you also have that other side, the talk of this woman, Nancy Lanza, who collected guns, some high-powered weapons as in that Bushmaster that was used in the elementary school shooting. It's not clear whether she attended some of the shooting ranges in the area although we know there are at least three shooting ranges within a 20- mile range of this area.
Now, any of the workers that I spoke to at a local business here said that she often showed her rifle - actually showed a rifle that she had recently purchase and even brought her children target shooting. Not clear if that occurred at those ranges or just in and around the area. Although, ATF and federal officials we've spoken to, FBI that we spoke to, said that that didn't occur.
So, there's really quite a bit of conflicting information as to what transpired here. But one neighbor perhaps sort of said it best, is that just something just doesn't quite add up as to who this woman was, why she was killed and what transpired in really the minutes after her death.
COOPER: Yes. There are so many questions still unanswered at this point.
David, appreciate the reporting. We are going to take a short break. And our coverage continues in a moment.
COOPER: In this hour and in the days ahead, we're trying to focus as much as we can on the victims and letting you know about the lives they lived, not just how they lost their lives but the kind of lives they lived, who they were. And today we're able to tell you more about them than we were yesterday. And no doubt tomorrow we'll be able to tell you even more as family members come forward and want to share their grief and want to share their memories of their loved ones. Those of us from outside are now learning more about the women and the children who lost their lives on Friday at Sandy Hook elementary school. Take a look.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Victoria Soto's family says she had her students huddled behind her trying to protect them when she was shot and killed at the elementary school. Her cousin says the hardest part was waiting to hear whether she had survived or not.
JIM WILTSIE, VICTORIA SOTO'S COUSIN: At that point, it was the hardest for the whole family, just the waiting game. To receive word on what happened to Vicki's class.
BLITZER: Also killed, Lauren Russeau, hired just last month as a permanent substitute teacher. Her family says she always wanted to be a teacher since before she even went to kindergarten.
School psychologist Mary Sherlach says on her web page, she has two daughters in their twenties, married 31 years and goes to a lake house with her husband, in upstate, New York. And the principal, Dawn Hocksprung, who friends and parents described as fun and personable with kids, but serious about teaching.
DOUG RUSSELL, NEWTOWN HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER: She is an exciting, she was enduring, she was just incredible educator, and then to lose somebody like that in our district, you know, it is sad.
MARY ANN JACOB, LIBRARY CLERK, SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: She was a personal friend and wonderful leader.
BLITZER: She had recently overseen the installation of a new security system, requiring every visitor after 9:30 a.m. to get buzzed in and show ID.
LORI GUIGLEY, DAWN HOCKSPRUNG'S FRIEND (voice-over): She truly did believe in creating an environment where children felt safe. I think that is really the tragic irony of this entire situation.
BLITZER: She was also a parent herself, raising two daughters and three stepdaughters. Friends and parents say Hocksprung was passionate and dedicated, tough but caring and one said the kids loved her.
PHELPS: The principal, who, God bless her, lost her life, was just a very special person. And all the parents knew that.
BLITZER: Wolf Blitzer, CNN, Newtown, Connecticut.
COOPER: At one point earlier tonight, a man stepped forward before cameras to pay an incredibly loving tribute to his own daughter, Emilie Parker was just 6-years-old. She was one of the little girls killed yesterday. Her father, Robbie Parker, said he is even praying for the shooter's family want. Watch.
ROBBIE PARKER, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: I'd really like to offer our deepest condolences to the families who were directly affected by this shooting. It's a horrific tragedy and we want everybody to know that our heart s and our prayers go out to them. This includes the family of the shooter. 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.
My daughter, Emilie, would be one of the first ones to be standing and giving her love and support to all those victims because that's the type of person that she is, not because of any parenting that my wife and I could have done, but because those were the gifts that were given to her by her heavenly father. I have two really good friends at home who have set up a facebook page to help raise money for Emilie. And when I've got on that and just seen the number of people who have commented and expressed their condolences, it's been quite overwhelming. As the deep pain begins to settle into our hearts, we find comfort reflecting on the incredible person that Emilie was and how many lives that she was able to touch in her short time here on earth.
Emilie was bright, creative and very loving. Emilie was always willing to try new things, other than food. She loved to use her talents to touch the lives of everyone that she came into contact with. She was an exceptional artist and she always carried around her markers and pencils so she never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for those around her.
I can't count the number of times Emilie noticed someone feeling sad or frustrated and would rush to find a piece of paper to draw them a picture or to write them an encouraging note. Emilie's card making was expressed beautifully this last October when she placed a very special card she had made into the casket with her grandpa, who also just recently died of a tragic accident.
Emilie was a mentor to her two little sisters and delighted in teaching them how to read, dance and find the simple joys in life. Emilie's laughter was infectious and all those who had the pleasure to meet her would agree that this world is a better place because she's been in it. She was their best friend. They were all born within three years of each other so by law, they're very close.
She was teaching my middle daughter to read. She would help my youngest daughter learn how to make things, show her how to do crafts. They looked up to her and they looked to her when they needed comfort. Usually that's saved for a mom and a dad. But it was really sweet to see the times when one of them would fall or get their feelings hurt, how they would run to Emilie to get support and hugs and kisses.
She was the type of person that could just light up a room. She always had something kind to say about anybody. And her love and the strength that she gave us and the example that she showed to us is remarkable. She is an incredible person. And I'm so blessed to be her dad.
I was leaving to work and she woke up before I left. And I've actually been teaching her Portuguese. So our last conversation was in Portuguese. And she told me good morning and asked how I was doing. And I said that I was doing well. She said that she loved me. And I gave her a kiss and I was out the door. Free agency is given to all of us to act and do what we want and God can't take that away from us. And I know that that's something that he was given and that's what he chose to do with it. I know that God can't take that away.
I'm not mad because I have my agency to make sure that I use this event to do what I can to do whatever I can. To want to make sure that my family and my wife and my daughters are taken care of and that if there's anything that I can do to help anybody at anytime, anywhere, I'd be willing to do that.
As we move on from what happened here, what happened to so many people, let it not turn into something that defines us, but something that inspires us to be better, to be more compassionate and more humble people.
COOPER: A father in mourning speaking of compassion for others.
What happened at that school is sadly just the latest on a long list of violent attacks with guns over the years. And when we first heard what happened in Connecticut, it is logical that a lot of people thought about some of those other deadly shootings in places like Virginia tech or Columbine.
Joining me now is pastor Rocky Veach. He was living actually near Littleton, Colorado, when the columbine attack occurred 13 years ago and he now lives here in Connecticut.
What do you say to people? What do you, I mean, for families who come to you and people in this community who weren't even having a loved one at that school but who just -- everybody feels affected. What do you say?
REV. ROCKY VEACH, CONNECTICUT CHURCH: Yes. Well, as a Christian, I mean, what can you say to start with? But as a Christian, you tell them, there's hope in the Lord, you know. God knows where you're at. God cares for you and loves you and rather than saying a lot about Jesus, trying to be like Jesus. That's what I'm trying to do.
COOPER: It seems, too, a lot of times just being there is important and listening is as important as what you say.
VEACH: Yes, very much so. I mean, that's what anybody needs in this kind of setting. And having been in this setting a time before, and actually I'm glad to be around to be able to help people here.
COOPER: You feel like you're in the right place at the right time.
VEACH: Yes, right place at the right time. And the church that I pastor, I think they feel that way, too. And so, we have been conducting prayer meetings in the area, praying for people, and getting in touch with God and asking him to help them and help use us in ways that can be helpful toward other people.
COOPER: It is extraordinary, I mean, I have spent a little bit of time in this town. And just to see how people are coming together, and people are stopping, you know, here, people are stopping down the street and just kind of talking to one another, complete strangers kind of reaching out to one another in grief and in sadness.
VEACH: Yes, I think it's beautiful. I think it's something in all of us that can help alleviate the pain when we go through a crisis situation. So, we need each other and that's one of the beautiful things about community.
COOPER: Do you encourage people to talk about it? Because I lost a brother years ago to suicide and my mom found it helpful to talk about it over and over again. And I found it very, very difficult and even still to this day. And, do you encourage people to talk?
VEACH: I encourage people to talk about it. And I encourage people to talk to the Lord about it. And sometimes we forget that we can talk to God, talk to him directly. And he understands in a way that a person really can't. Again, everything I'm about is looking to him.
COOPER: There are no doubt people who witness what happened and question faith, question how can this happen -- how can this be allowed to happen? How do you answer?
VEACH: Yes. Well, that's the age-old question. And I look at evil, you know, to believe in evil, you have to believe in good. So, I go back to the story of creation. God's the creator and there is an adversary, there is an enemy. And you know, God's not the author of this. The bible says that God is the author of abundant life. The devil is the author of this kind of life. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. And it's sad. But God is bigger than that. So, that's why we point people towards him in this kind of scenario.
COOPER: And faith gets you through?
VEACH: Faith gets you through. I think people find that faith gets them through a lot of things that you might not think it will at the time. So, having lived in Columbine, I saw this once before -- or in Denver during Columbine, saw this once before. It's amazing. Changed my life watching how other people -- how God did help them and did get them through times when they thought they wouldn't make it through.
COOPER: Yes. And to see parents, I mean, to see Mr. Parker speaking about his daughter, the strength that takes, the strength that takes just to get through minute by minute, second by second.
VEACH: Yes. No, that was very touching there. It's just a horrible scenario, a horrible situation. And like we said in the beginning, I mean, words can't really do anything in this. How can I understand him? I just try to love him and be there for him and people like him, be there in the community.
COOPER: Yes. Sometimes the words seem -- they feel so small in a situation like this.
But Pastor Veach, I appreciate you being on. VEACH: Thank you so much.
COOPER: Thank you.
There's still a lot for us to learn in the days ahead and as our coverage continues. We are going to take a short break. We are going to continue remembering the victims tonight when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIEUTENANT PAUL VANCE, CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE SPOKESMAN: This is a very, very tragic, tragic scene for everybody. Certainly our hearts are broken for the families here.
JANET VOLLMER, TEACHER, SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Well, you know, about 9:30, 9:40, we heard noises. And the announcement system was still on. So it didn't go off. So you could hear what sounded like pops, gunshots.
DENISE CORREIA, DAUGHTER ATTEND SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Her teacher managed to take two children out of the hallway, pull them into the classroom, lock the door and move everybody over to the other side of the room.
FATHER GEORGE WEISS, SAINT ROSE OF LIMA PARISH: We just told a little boy about his sister now. It's just a hard, you know, like who am I going to play, he said. I have nobody to play with now, so. Excuse me.
AIMEE SEAVER, PARENT: When your first-grader goes to bed and says, mommy, is anyone from my class last year -- are they all OK? And you look at them and say, I'm not really sure.
GOV. DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: You can never be prepared for this kind of incident. What has happened, what has transpired at that school building, will leave a mark on this community and every family impacted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As I've been saying since the beginning of our coverage, we want to really focus on the victims, on the lives they lived. And we want today to try to learn as much as we can about them and in the days ahead, to learn as much as we can about them as when their families want that information out.
At this point, we don't have pictures of many of the victims. We're waiting, of course, for families to release that if and when they choose to. But we do have their names tonight.
And I just want to take a few moments and just read you their names so that you remember their names. So often we remember the names of the shooters in these kinds of situations. So, I think it's important to remember the names of the victims instead.
Charlotte Bacon was just 6-yearsold, and we remember her tonight.
Daniel Barden was 7-years-old. And we remember him tonight.
Rachel Davino is teacher, was 29-years-old and we remember her.
Olivia Engel, 6-years-old, and our thoughts are with her family.
Josephine Gay was 7-years-old. She just had a birthday on Tuesday. Ana Marquez Green, she too was 6-years-old.
Dylan Hockley, 6-years-old.
Principal Dawn Hocksprung was 47-years-old.
Madeleine Hsu was 6-years-old.
Catherine Hubbard, she was 6-years-old as well.
Chase Kowalski, he was 7-years-old.
Jessie Lewis, Jessie was 6-years-old as well.
James Mattioli, James was 6-years-old as well.
Grace McDonnell, Grace was 7-years-old.
Anne Marie Murphy, she was a teacher. She was 52-years-old.
Emilie Parker, whose dad we heard from earlier tonight. She was 6-years-old.
Jack Pinto, also sic.
Noah, Noah Pozner was 6 years old.
Caroline Previdi, Caroline was 6-years-old as well.
Jessica Rekos, Jessica was six.
Avielle Richman, she was also six and she was killed yesterday.
Lauren Russeau, a substitute teacher, was just 30-years-old.
Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist, we have learned about here yesterday. She was 56.
Teacher Victoria Soto, we have talked about her earlier tonight. She was 27.
Benjamin Wheeler, he was 6-years-old.
And Allison Wyatt was 6-years-old as well.
We remember them all tonight and in the days, the weeks and hopefully the years ahead. A vigil in Main Street here in Newtown.
We're going to take a short break and be back in a moment.
COOPER: The shooting in Newtown is now if second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history behind the Virginia tech massacre in 2007. After every event like this, the questions always are the same, what causes this kind of a shooting? How can this happen? How can they be stopped?
I'm joined now by Katherine Newman from Baltimore. She wrote the book "rampage, the social roots of school shootings." She's studied many of these kinds of events.
Katherine, I really appreciate you being with us. And I've read a little bit about your research. What have you learned about these shootings that are sort of counterintuitive? Because people think they know what causes them at times about the columbine. But so many of the things we thought we knew about columbine have turned out not to be true. So, what do we now know about what causes these kinds of events?
KATHERINE NEWMAN, AUTHOR, RAMPAGE, THE SOCIAL ROOTS OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS: Well, it's very true, Anderson, that often what we learned in the beginning turns out to be dead wrong. I think some of the common myths are that these things are spontaneous. They're almost never spontaneous. Some of the shootings we studied that have planned over a nine-month period. Often we think that no one knows anything about what is coming. But sadly in many instances, there are quite a few people who have inkling.
In some of the school shootings we studied, there were children who didn't come to school that day because they were worried something was going to happen, but sadly they never told anyone who could have done anything. And so one of the counterintuitive things we learned was that there's a lot of information often circulating but it doesn't get to the right place.
It doesn't mean that was true in this particular instance. It will take time before we know enough to generalize to it. But in the shootings that we studied, and we studied all of them from the 1970s onward in the United States, it was frequently the case that there was a lot of knowledge in peer communities that just didn't get through to the adults in time to do anything about it.
It's also the case that it frequently happens in towns just like Newtown, small, rural settings, not the places that we think of as characteristically violent. We think of big cities as places where there's gun violence and, of course, there is. But these kinds of shootings don't happen in big cities. They happen usually in small towns or suburbs.
COOPER: And is there a common thread in the mental health history of the boys involved in these?
NEWMAN: There is almost always a mental health condition. The sad thing is it's often unrecognized and untreated. So we don't know if that will be true in this case. But in most of the cases we looked at, there was after-the-fact evidence of mental disorders but no treatment. That's disturbing because we like to think we can recognize the symptoms.
But particularly when the shooters are younger than this one, the ones we looked at were 13, 12, the signs of distinguished mental illness that are going to be, you know, so vivid if they survive into their 20s are not so easy to discern when they're 13.
So, sadly there is a -- there's evidence after the fact often that comes up in forensic examinations, but not the kind f of evidence that leads to the treatment that they so desperately need.
COOPER: It's also interesting in the book title, you talk about the social roots of these shootings, I mean, oftentimes the ideas that these are loners on the fringe. But you've found it's not that simple.
NEWMAN: No. Sadly they are rarely loners. It's more characteristic to say they're failed joiners. They are people who have typically tried to join groups and are rebuffed and rejected. So their experience is not that of being a loner. It's of being pushed aside and made to feel rejected. And so what typically happens with these young men is that they go through a whole series of efforts to try and get attention and ingratiate themselves in groups. All those efforts fail and they start talking about shooting people and suddenly everyone's paying attention. And so, they're trying to change how people think about them and notorious and evil seems better to them than a loser.
COOPER: It's one of the reasons I believe just in not trying to mention their names because just the idea that somebody can believe that they can game fame or notoriety by doing this, I just don't think it's good to perpetuate that.
Katherine Newman, I find your research really fascinating and I love to talk to you more in the days ahead.
Thank you for being with us tonight.
NEWMAN: My pleasure, Anderson.
COOPER: Some memories are seared into our minds no matter how much one wants to forget them. The Newtown shooting no doubt falls into that category for one of the school's teachers. Yet in the midst of a crisis, she stayed remarkably calm for her kindergarten students.
I talked to her, Janet Vollmer is her name. And I really want you to hear what she said about how she got herself through this crisis. Listen.
JANET VOLLMER, TEACHER, SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (voice- over): You know, about 9:30, 9:40, we heard noises and the announcement system was still on. So it didn't go off. So you could hear what sounded like pops, gunshots. Of course, I'm not going to tell that to 5-year-olds. So I said to them, we're going over in a safe area and we're going to - you know, we read a story and we kept them calm. Did a lockdown drill, I closed the doors, locked -- covered the windows. And you know, kept the children with us. I have other adults --
COOPER: I find that amazing that fearing that you hear gunshots, you were able to have the composure to sit down and read to your students. I mean, that's extraordinary.
VOLLMER: That's what you have to do with 5-year-olds because you can't lose it. So, you know, you just kind -- I've been doing this for a long time. It's my 18th year of teaching. And you know, my job was to keep them safe. I didn't know -- there was no announcement of what was going on. You know, my instinct was it wasn't good. So, you know, we kept them calm. We stayed in the room until there was banging at the door, which were the police and the troopers or whoever was there. And they had us exit the building. And you know, they told the children to cover their eyes and walk in a line and leave the building and that's when we went down towards the firehouse.
So, you know, we were all safe. I had 19 children in the room with me and thank goodness all of their parents were, you know, able to come and pick them up and take them home.
COOPER: As you were reading to them, did the kids realize something was going on or did they just think it was a drill like you'd had before?
VOLLMER: Right. It didn't seem a natural thing, although we do practice drills. And we just said, well, we're not really sure but we're going to be safe because we're sitting over here and we're all together. And that's, you know, as we got down to the firehouse later on, as a lot of the events started to unfold throughout the day, I think some of them realized the magnitude of what was going on. They saw other people upset. But, you know, we just held them close until their parents came and we released them. And you know, my room, my children were all accounted for and safe in my kindergarten classroom.
COOPER: We talked about some of the kids dealing with the potential for PTSD. Also first responders dealing with the stress in all of this and what they've had to see.
Terry Lyles deals with stress and crisis management. He joins me from Miami.
Terry, it is easy to forget these scenes are probably the worst many of these emergency workers have ever witnessed. I can't imagine the things they saw in those schools -- in that school. You help rescue workers deal with tragedy following the September 11th attacks. What's your advice? How do you help them?
TERRY LYLES, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, Anderson, thank you for having me.
I think the biggest thing that we have to remember is that the closest you are to the epicenter, hearing the shots, seeing the violence visually, the more you're going to need to be able to debrief. And as I debrief special forces people and soldiers, it's very important that these children, their parents understand that there's life after tragedy but we have to listen to their stories, we have to help them vent and release that information that they can normalize and go back to some type of life as they knew it before this tragic day.
COOPER: What kinds of symptoms do parents, do friends of people need to look out for?
LYLES: Well, typically with children, it's all age appropriateness. So it really depends. But, I mean, usually sleep can be disrupted. There could be nightmares. There could be sudden noises that could startle them, moodiness that you've not seen before, maybe a loss in appetite or a loss of interest in normal things.
And I think for parents mainly, we're all just mortified by this event. And I think as parents we have to make sure that we're talking to our children, regardless of where we are in the country or around the world, that we can let our children know and support them to say, listen, it's OK. I mean, this doesn't happen on a regular basis. This was not a normal situation and we have to support them and care for them that they know that they're secured in a normal world that we live in.
COOPER: But talking about it helps?
LYLES: Well, I mean, again, it depends on the age. I mean, the ages of the kids that you mentioned, I agree with you. I think it's very difficult to be able to even name the names and the ages of these children. It's heartbreaking.
And I think what he can do, as we talk to our children, if children can draw pictures and write letters if that's what it goes, to friends that they lost or the situations they heard and destroy those letters. We destroy everything that is of waste to us. We put garbage bags out. We flush garbage disposals. And it's the same way with the emotional waste.
We have to help them vent and process, release it and let them know as we talk to them that they have a refuge within us and that we as parents are there to support them through this situation.
COOPER: Terry Lyles, I appreciate your expertise. No doubt, we'll be talking to you in the days ahead as well. Thank you very much.
LYLES: Thank you. You are welcome.
COOPER: I'll be back tomorrow night for a special edition of "A.C. 360" from Newtown at 8:00 and 10:00 tomorrow. But our coverage continues right now.