Category: 2012

26 dead in elementary school massacre

The bodies of children and educators lay where they fell in a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school — in classrooms and hallways — as investigators worked to identity the dead early Saturday while piecing together the path of the gunman.

Twenty children and six adults were killed when the shooter opened fire Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School in a rampage that shattered the quiet of this southern New England town and left a nation reeling over the number of young lives lost.

Authorities were expected to announce the identities of the dead as early as Saturday morning, though the bodies could remain inside the school until as late as Sunday, said Lt. J. Paul Vance, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Police.

There were more questions than answers about the possible motive of the shooter, identified by three law enforcement officials as 20-year-old Adam Lanza — who authorities say appeared to have taken his own life, turning his gun on himself in the school.

Police say Lanza, who grew up in the tight-knit community of 27,000, killed his mother at her Newtown residence before going to the school where he primarily targeted two classrooms.

Within minutes, Lanza killed 26 people with chilling efficiency, leaving only one injured survivor, according to Vance. Among the adults killed were Dawn Hochsprung, the school’s beloved principal, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach.

“Stuff like this does not happen in Newtown,” roughly 60 miles northeast of New York City, said Renee Burn, a local teacher at another school in town.

Until Friday, only one homicide in the past 10 years had been reported in the upscale community of expansive homes surrounded by woods, where many residents commute to jobs in Manhattan and the nearby Connecticut cities of Stamford and Hartford.

The number of young victims, between the ages of 5 and 10, sent shockwaves across the nation.

“They had their entire lives ahead of them: birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own,” President Barack Obama said, wiping away tears.

In a televised address from the White House, the president recalled shootings this year at an Oregon mall, a Wisconsin Sikh temple and a Colorado movie theater.

“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of politics,” he said.

The president stopped short of calling for gun control measures, though the White House said later Obama supports a reinstatement of a federal ban on assault weapons.

With the death toll at 26, the massacre in Newtown is the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, behind the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting that left 32 dead.

Flags were lowered to half-staff in a number of states, and vigils were held at houses of worship and at schools amid a national outpouring of grief that saw many ask one question: Why?

There are, for now, few answers.

Three weapons were recovered from the school: a semi-automatic .223 Bushmaster found in a car in the school parking lot, and a Glock and a Sig Sauer found with Lanza’s body, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said, on condition of anonymity.

The weapons were legally purchased by Lanza’s mother, said the official, who was not authorized to release details of the case to the media.

After killing his mother, investigators believe Lanza took her guns and made his way to the elementary school. There, dressed in black fatigues and a military vest, according to a law enforcement official, Lanza reportedly targeted two classrooms of kindergartners and first-graders.

How he got into the school remains a question as the doors were locked. At about 9:30 a.m., as announcements were read over the loudspeaker to the nearly 700 students, the first shots reportedly rang out.

Students described being ushered into bathrooms and closets by teachers after hearing the first shots.

It sounded like “pops, gunshots,” Janet Vollmer, a kindergarten teacher, said.

Vollmer locked her classroom doors, covered the windows and moved her 19 pupils toward the back of the room.

“We’re going over in a safe area,” she told the 5-year-olds. Then, she opened a book and started to read.

Outside Vollmer’s classroom, a gunman was moving through the hallway of the one-story building.

In the first few minutes, the gunman is believed to have shot the principal, Hochsprung, and the school’s psychologist, Sherlach.

One parent who was at the school in a meeting with Hochsprung, Sherlach and the vice principal said she heard a “pop, pop, pop.” All three left the room and went into the hall to see what was happening. The parent ducked under the table and called 911.

“I cowered,” she told CNN. The gunman “must have shot a hundred rounds.”

At the police station, dispatchers began to take calls from inside the school.

“Sandy Hook school. Caller is indicating she thinks someone is shooting in the building,” the dispatcher told fire and medical personnel, according to 911 tapes.

Then, another caller reported gunshots. And then another.

“Units responding to Sandy Hook School at this time, the shooting appears to have stopped. The school is in lockdown,” the dispatcher said.

The dispatcher warned police and medical personnel that callers were reporting “multiple weapons, including one rifle and a shotgun.”

Then, a police officer or firefighter called for “backup, ambulances, and they said call for everything.”

The dispatcher, according to the 911 tapes, asked how many ambulances were needed.

“They don’t know. They’re not giving us a number,” the officer or firefighter said.

Inside a classroom, Vollmer was still reading to the children when police officers banged on the locked door.

The kindergartners were told to line up and cover their eyes as they were led by police past bodies, presumably of their fellow schoolmates, Vollmer said.

As reports of the shooting made their way around town, frantic parents descended on a nearby firehouse where the children had been taken.

“Why? Why?” one woman wailed as she walked up a wooded roadway leading from the school.

Inside the firehouse, Vollmer’s kindergartners were beginning to understand something terrible had happened.

“They saw other people upset,” Vollmer said. “We just held them close until their parents came.”

By nightfall, the firehouse became a gathering point for parents and family members whose loved ones would never walk out of the school.

Authorities, meanwhile, in Hoboken, New Jersey, were questioning Ryan Lanza, the suspected gunman’s older brother, law enforcement sources said, though they did not label him a suspect. Lanza’s father, Peter, who lives in Connecticut, was similarly questioned, one of the law enforcement officials said.

Earlier Friday, investigators identified Ryan Lanza as the shooter. It was not clear what caused the confusion among investigators.

Elementary school massacre: 27 killed Elementary school massacred, including 20 kids, at Connecticut school

A teacher’s son — clad in black and carrying three assault weapons — rampaged through a Connecticut elementary school Friday, killing 20 small children and six adults, including his mother, in the nation’s second-worst school shooting, law enforcement officials said.

The gunman, identified as Adam Lanza, 20, was also found dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, law enforcement officials said. Officials initially told NBC News the gunman was Lanza’s brother, Ryan, who is cooperating with investigators and said Adam has a history of mental illness, according to a senior official.

An unidentified woman was also found fatally shot in the face at a home in Newtown after police showed up with there a bomb squad,  officials said.

Lanza’s mother is a kindergarten teacher at the hilltop school, and most of the dead were found inside her classroom.

Some young survivors — ages 5 to 10 — described the terror of the shooting and a massive police response that included SWAT officers going room to room to search for victims as students huddled in classroom corners.

Robert Licata said his 6-year-old son was in class when the gunman burst in and shot the teacher.

“That’s when my son grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door,” he told the Associated Press. “He was very brave.”

One student said she was in the gym when she heard “seven loud booms.”

“The gym teachers told us to go in the corner, so we all huddled,” she said. “And I kept hearing these booming noises. And we all … started crying.

“All the gym teachers told us to go into the office where no one could find us,” she added. “So then a police officer came in and told us to run outside. So we did and we came in the firehouse.”

The high death toll and the tender age of many victims sent shock waves all the way to the White House, where the flag was lowered to half-staff.

President Obama, his voice cracking at times, said he reacted to the tragedy first as a parent.

“Our hearts are broken today,” he said. “The majority of those who died today were children. Beautiful little kids between the ages of five and ten years old.”

Authorities in the small bedroom community 60 miles from New York City were alerted to the unfolding carnage by a 911 call around 9:30 a.m., and then reached out to state police and neighboring police departments for help.

Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance said troopers fanned out across the school and searched “every door, every crack, every crevice” of the building.

Most of the bodies were found in two rooms in one section of the 600-student school, which goes up to the fourth grade.

Two children were taken to Danbury Hospital, but they died. A third person was being treated at the hospital, which went into lockdown mode and cleared trauma rooms as doctors waited for an influx of survivors that never came.

After police finished searching the school and determined there was only one gunman, they led the children outside, telling them to close their eyes, apparently to avoid seeing anything gruesome.

At a staging area ringed by police vehicles that raced to the school from across the state, the dazed and crying kids were reunited with worried loved ones.

Brenda Lebinski, mother of a third-grader, said she found a “horrendous” scene.

“Everyone was in hysterics — parents, students. There were kids coming out of the school bloodied. I don’t know if they were shot, but they were bloodied,” she said, according to Reuters.

One parent picking up his 7-year-old son said the shooting was “the most terrifying moment a parent can imagine.” He went on to describe the anguish of waiting to find out if his son was a victim and then running to his child when he saw him.

“It was the greatest relief in my existence,” the father said. “I’m just happy that my kid’s OK.”

Two 9mm handguns were recovered from the scene, an official told A rifle was found in the back of a car parked outside the school.

The FBI was assisting with the widening investigation, and authorities said there were many unanswered questions, including the motive.

“There is a great deal of search warrant activity…in and out of the state,” Vance said, without giving specifics.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy was meeting with grieving families.

“As you can imagine, the governor is horrified by what’s happened,” said aide Roy Occhiogrosso.

The death toll is the highest from a school shooting since a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007. At Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, two teens killed 13 people and wounded 24 in 1999.

Parent Stephen Delgiadice, whose 8-year-old daughter was not hurt, said he never could have imagined such bloodshed in the quiet town of 27,000, where the police force has only three detectives.

“It’s alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America,” he told The Associated Press.

Obama said Friday’s shooting, following the massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and other murder sprees, showed the need for “meaningful action…regardless of the politics” to prevent more blood from being spilled.

New York City Mayor Bloomberg, who has been pushing for tougher gun laws, called for Washington to act immediately.

“Not even kindergarteners learning their A, B, Cs are safe,” he said. “We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again.”


Did You Vote?

Hey everybody. Did you vote this year? Or did you assume your vote wouldn’t make a difference? Voter turnout for 2012 fell to 118 million from 2008’s impressive turnout of 131 million, with only 60% of eligible voters actually exercising their right to choose their government. In an election where the difference in the popular vote was less than 5 million, the 78 million people who chose not to vote might have made a huge difference. So how did President Obama get out the vote? Tweets, likes and status updates. Check out the following infographic to see how Obama bested Romney through a war waged on social media.

Did You Vote?

Created by:

Jimmy Hoffa – No human remains found

Soil tests indicate that no human remains are buried beneath a shed in Roseville, Mich., where authorities were investigating the possibility that the late Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa might have been buried, officials said.

Michigan State University tested two samples from a home in Roseville, a suburb of Detroit, after an unidentified tipster told authorities that he witnessed a body being buried there the day after Hoffa disappeared in July 1975.

Those tests came up negative for human remains, Roseville police said Tuesday.

The lead appears to be yet another dead end in the search for Hoffa, who ran the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the country’s biggest labor union, from 1957 to 1971. It joins a long line of false leads that have fueled conspiracy theories for years.

Investigators and other experts had said that they doubted that Hoffa was at the site.

Andy Arena, the former FBI special agent in charge for Detroit, said that while his “gut feeling is that this person saw something,” it defies common sense to believe that the Mafia would have buried the body in broad daylight in a busy suburban area.

“If this guy was standing there watching this, and it was Jimmy Hoffa, he would have been in the hole with him,” Arena said.

Missed Opportunities at the Republican Convention by Dr. Dennis Becker

“It’s August 28. We’ve just finished watching and listening to the first night of the

Republican Convention.” With that, Dr. Dennis Becker launched, a series of podcasts in which the speech coaches at

Brookline, Massachusetts-based The Speech Improvement Company, Inc.

objectively critique the important speakers of the 2012 presidential campaign.

“These broadcasts are designed to give voters valuable information needed to

make a confident decision on November 6. We’ll be watching and listening to the

candidates and others who are trying to win your vote. The talking techniques and

the tactics that they’re using are our exclusive topic for this unique critique,”

according to Becker.

Overall, Becker and the other panelists (senior speech

coaches Laurie Schloff, Monica Murphy, and Robin Maxfield) find that the speakers

at the Republican Convention’s first night missed too many opportunities – partly

due to speech writing, and partly due to delivery – to win over the undecided six

percent. Here’s a sample of the coaches’ analysis of Ann Romney:

•    Ann Romney was trying to humanize the situation and make Mitt a

loveable figure. That’s where she disappointed…she came across as strong vs.

soft, and hyper as opposed to low-key. Her speech wasn’t well written.
•    She used facial expressions and gestures well, and she started strongly

with her use of the word “love.” But Ann Romney could have used stories – with a

beginning, middle, and end — to connect with the audience in a heartfelt way. For

example, what makes a real marriage? How did Mitt help her when she was ill?

What was it like to be the father of five kids? How does he make her laugh?
•    She was nervous. Her pace of speaking was too fast. The listeners never

had an opportunity to stop and appreciate her, and get involved with it…[but] she

did the best she could with the speech that she had.

Keynote speaker Chris Christie scored slightly higher than Ann Romney, overall, in

the panelists’ estimation. They had this to say:

•    Chris Christie’s body language and facial expressions were great, and he

had some interesting things to say.
•    What was the point of this keynote? It took him 17 minutes before he

even mentioned Governor Romney.
•    His constant intensity and anger were difficult…he seemed on edge. It

was surprising he wasn’t more upbeat and positive.

There are 16 shows in the series, and there will be a post

every Monday PLUS every night that there is a special event, such as the

conventions and the actual debates. Dr. Becker and other

panelists are available to expand upon their critiques of the Republic Convention

speakers, and to rate their performances objectively. You can hear the podcast here:

Candidates’ Communication Choices written by Monica Murphy

5 Ways to Persuade the Undecided 6 Percent of Voters

Six percent of all Americans who are eligible to vote in the November presidential

election aren’t aligned with a political party. This undecided group will make all the


What do the voters who are still on the fence need to hear, or see, to make their

choice among the candidates? Here are the communication choices candidates

make that will determine who is the next president, and vice president, of the

United States:

1.    Word Selection. The successful candidate will choose specific words that

conjure up emotional images. For example, Paul Ryan walks onstage with his mom,

Betty, and promises to end this raid on Medicare. He assures his listeners that the

board will not mess with “your” mom’s or “my” mom’s healthcare. Ryan chooses

the words “your” and “my” to build a rapport with his audience, and words like

“raid,” “promise,” and “piggybank” are designed to motivate seniors to run into

the voting booth, as fast as they can get there, to protect themselves from an

encroachment upon their Medicare benefits and a threat against their healthcare.

Point made!

2.    Vocal Variety. Along with choosing the right words, candidates have to

work on their inflection, volume, and pace. Before the dawning of YouTube and

other broadcast media outlets – when the print media reigned – all that mattered

was the content of the candidates’ messages. Today, we’re going to hear the ways

in which the candidates deliver their messages. This is the time for President

Obama to tap into his much-remarked-upon vocal talents. A man who can channel

Al Green has no excuse, ever, to slip into a boring monotone and let his listeners

(and his potential supporters) slip away!

3.    Distilling the message. Candidates need the ability to be concise in their

verbal and written communication. Voters are looking for concise, easy-to-

understand strategies. Usually, less is more. Sentences that are very short – 8 to

13 words, no more – are the most persuasive. Even the best politicians derail

themselves when their sentences are too long. Listeners tune out. Even the best

language in a long sentence loses a listener. Mitt Romney has mastered the art of

editing the highlights of his strategies and plans into concise sound bites that his

listeners can easily digest. A candidate who does the best job editing does the best

job selling him- or herself to those undecided voters.

4.    Smile, smile, smile. While some of the undecided six percent of voters are

aural, and will make their choices based on what they hear, others are more

attuned to visual – that is, nonverbal — persuasion. They’ll rely on a candidate’s

facial expression for their cues about whom to trust, and a smile will go a long way

toward making that decision. The ability to smile naturally when speaking to a

group, even if your topic isn’t humorous, is a way to demonstrate warmth and build

a rapport. Joe Biden has mastered the art of smiling to present himself as

approachable. He keeps that smile on his face frequently and naturally – and, in

November, he may just find those undecided voters smiling back at him.

5.    Using Your Aristotle. So much of what we know about public speaking

today derives from what Aristotle taught us, and the successful candidates will tap

into this ancient wisdom. They’ll use ethos, pathos, and logos appropriately. Ethos

relies on the speaker’s credibility. How easy should it be for an incumbent

president – or, for that matter, for a  corporate executive – that he has an extensive

background in leadership? Pathos moves past speakers’ credibility to their ability

to connect emotionally with their listeners. Remember Paul Ryan’s mother, Betty?

She was (along with being a mother) a wonderful rhetorical prop, and Joe Biden

uses his own pathos when, for instance, he recalls losing his wife and daughter in a

car crash. As for logos, the use of logic to make your argument? Mitt Romney’s

five-point-plan for achieving energy independence can appeal to voters who want

to hear substantive ideas. President Obama’s has – it’s a bit more complicated, but

it still appeals to voters’ intellect – a twenty-five point plan to reform IT

management. Ethos, pathos, and logos … the best use of those old pillars of

communication will help someone win the Oval Office in November.

When an election is as close as the November election is shaping up to be,

communication matters. The candidates who win the votes are the ones who can

build trust and rapport with the undecided six percent of the voters through the

content, and style, of their speech and through their visual presentation. All of the

candidates this time around seem to have the tools necessary for success. The pair

of candidates who use those tools most wisely, and most consistently, will be our

next U.S. president and vice president. Good luck, and good communication, to all

of the candidates!

Monica Murphy is a Senior Coaching Partner with Brookline, Massachusetts-based

The Speech Improvement Company. Visit her online at

Suspect Found 12 shot dead at ‘Dark Knight Rises’ screening in Aurora, Colorado

A suspect was apprehended in the shopping center’s parking lot, Oates said.He was named as 24-year-old James Holmes.

Twelve people were killed and at least 50 others wounded early Friday when a gunman wearing a bullet-proof vest opened fire during a midnight screening of the latest Batman movie near Denver, authorities and witnesses said.

A three-month-old child and a six-year-old girl were among those treated, according to reports.

Authorities said the gunman had appeared at the front of the theater during the film and released a canister of tear gas. Witnesses told reporters that the gunfire erupted during a shootout scene in “The Dark Knight Rises”.

“It was mass chaos,” witness Jennifer Seeger told TODAY. The gunman shot the ceiling and then “he threw in the gas can, and then I knew it was real.”

“I told my friend, ‘We’ve got to get out of here,’ but then he shot people trying to go out the exits,” she recalled. She said the shooter made his way up the aisle, shooting as he went, saying nothing.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates initially told journalists that 14 people had been killed but the figure was later lowered to 12.

The incident occurred in the Century 16 Movie Theaters at the Aurora Town Center, police told NBC News. Aurora is a suburb less than 10 miles east of downtown Denver.

NBC station KUSA-Denver cited a witness as seeing a black-clad 6-foot-tall man wearing a riot helmet, goggles and bullet-proof vest.

However, many people attended the film dressed in Batman-related costumes.

Witnesses said the gunman entered the theater through an emergency exit door.

The suspect was found in possession of a gas mask, Oates said. Ammunition was found in the suspect’s car, police said.

The shooter had three weapons — an assault-type rifle and two handguns, officials told NBC News. Holmes’ car has Tennessee plates but authorities say he was living locally.

Holmes’ apartment building in north Aurora was evacuated after he made a statement to police about possible explosives at his home, Oates said. Local and federal authorities later entered the apartment.

An FBI official said that the agency was working with local authorities on the investigation, but that there was no early indication of a link to terrorism. Holmes was not on any federal law-enforcement watch lists.




North Korea rocket breaks up soon after launch

North Korea’s long-range rocket failed early Friday, U.S. officials said.

The rocket broke up soon after taking off.

“All indications are that it failed,” one official said but went on to say that they are still looking into it.

The White House said it would issue a statement, NBC News reported.

The launch, which North Korea’s neighbors and the West say is a disguised ballistic missile test, was to take a three-stage rocket over a sea separating the Korean peninsula from China before releasing a weather satellite into orbit when the third stage fires over waters near the Philippines.

Regional powers also worried it could be the prelude to another nuclear test, such as one the hermit state conducted in 2009.

The South Korean Defense Ministry announced that North Korea fired the long range rocket Friday morning around 7:38 a.m. The ministry later also said the rocket broke into several pieces in the air a few minutes after launch, based on joint intelligence from South Korea and the United States.

North Korea had announced it was planning the launch of an observation satellite to celebrate Sunday’s centennial of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country’s late founder.

“There is not a lot of information being disseminated at this point,” said Richard Engel, NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent, who is in North Korea. “But we did hear just a short while ago after the launch took place, after it was confirmed internationally, some martial music playing in the street, some fighter jets flying overhead. This is a national celebration time in North Korea and this rocket launch and this satellite launch, as the government describes it, is seen as a source of pride.”

The Japanese Defense Minister said early Friday that the North Korea rocket test had no effect on Japanese territory.

The U.S. earlier canceled food aid when North Korea announced the rocket test, despite Pyongyang’s February agreement to suspend all tests in exchange for food, NBC News reported.

Earlier Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after meeting with G8 foreign ministers that the U.S. would be going to the UN Security Council to seek action. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice is the rotating President of the Security Council and controls when to call a meeting.

North Korea launches long-range missile

North Korea launched a long-range rocket early Friday, U.S. officials confirmed.

The White House said it would issue a statement, NBC News reported.

The launch, which North Korea’s neighbors and the West say is a disguised ballistic missile test, will take a three-stage rocket over a sea separating the Korean peninsula from China before releasing a weather satellite into orbit when the third stage fires over waters near the Philippines.

Regional powers also worry it could be the prelude to another nuclear test, a pattern the hermit state set in 2009.

The South Korean Defense Ministry announced that North Korea fired the long range rocket around Friday morning around 7:38 a.m. and the success of the launch was being tracked by the joint military of South Korea and United States.

North Korea begins to fuel rockets

North Korea said on Wednesday it was injecting fuel into a long-range rocket “as we speak” ahead of a launch condemned by its neighbors and the West.

The launch is set to take place between Thursday and next Monday and has prompted neighbors such as the Philippines to re-route their air traffic just in case.

Japan said it would shoot down the rocket if it crossed its airspace.

The launch of the Unha-3 rocket, which North Korea says will merely put a weather satellite into space, breaches U.N. sanctions imposed to prevent Pyongyang from developing a missile that could carry a nuclear warhead.


“This launch will give credence to the view that North Korean leaders see improved relations with the outside world as a threat to their system,” Clinton told cadets at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

“And recent history strongly suggests that additional provocations may follow.”

She also called on China to do more to ensure regional stability.

China, impoverished North Korea’s only major ally, on Tuesday reiterated its pleas for calm and said it had “repeatedly expressed its concern and anxiety about the developments”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a press briefing in Beijing.

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