From Connecticut...to the nation's capital... a country mourns tonight..for more than two dozen killed in a school shooting...
And while the chaos has quieted at Sandy Hook Elementary School, it's replaced by grief...settling in over the small town of Newtown.
Good evening, everyone.
I'm Frank Malloy.
Leah Johnson has the night off.
Tonight... We'll devote much of our half hour...to the facts we're still learning about the morning shooting in that Connecticut community.
First though...we turn our attention to a murder case...we've been following through the court system for a year and a half.
Tonight we're learning more details about the murder of Lauren Giddings. That's after the defense team of accused killer Stephen McDaniel filed many motions earlier today. Candace Adorka has our story.
McDaniel's attorney Frank Hogue filed 31 motions in all, 12 of them having to do with the investigative procedures in the case. That's where we get a glimpse of the early investigation from the policemen and detectives' point of view.
There are affidavits, signed search warrants, and lists of items that were seized.
They share, for example, that a detective David Patterson smelled an odor, and that's how they found Gidding's torso in an apartment complex trash can wearing blue cotton shorts.
According to an affidavit from detective patterson, The medical examiner found a few long hairs which appeared to be brown mixed in with blond hair. HE points out McDaniel has shoulder-length brown hair while Giddings was blond.
Patterson was also the one who found what looked like two fresh scratch marks on McDaniel's stomach later that day.
The investigators seized many items from McDaniel's apartment and car. Among those was styrofoam cup with Lauren's name on it.
Hogue-- mcdaniel's attorney-- says all the evidence is circumstantial-- he says there's no hard evidence like an eyewitness or a confession. That's why he says McDaniel shouldn't be facing the death penalty.
<go ahead and try him for murder, I can't quibble with that. They think they have enough evidence to convict him for that go for it. But it's not a strong enough case to also add the death penalty to it.>
One of Hogue's motions asked the judge to dismiss the District Attorney's intent to seek the death penalty. Other motions claim some of the evidence was obtained illegally -- without a warrant.
He also wants the judge to exclude the testimony of Thaddeus Money, McDaniel's former roomate who says McDaniel described the perfect murder to him.
<the details he gives that he says stephen used to say would be the perfect murder don't match what we know about this case except for the dismembering part there's several other details that don't match that are different and so under case law that we cite in the motion you can only introduce some of these out of court statemetns about how they would commit a crime if the crime matches what they said they'd do.>
Hogue says he's planning on filing many more motions in coming weeks, maybe around 30 more. The judge will have to hold hearings, and there may be responses from the prosecutors. So the actual trial is still many months out. Frank?
Thank you, Candace.
You can read extensive coverage of this story at 13WMAZ-dot-com.
Back now to that shooting spree in Connecticut.
There are 28 victims dead...among them...20 children.
plus one more victim...who was killed at a secondary crime scene.
CBS News is reporting, she was the mother of the alleged shooter.
Police say he is dead as well.
Officials, who wouldn't disclose their identities, because they weren't authorized to talk about the case...
identified him as Adam Lanza, a 20 year old,
whose mother, Nancy, worked at the school.
Her death has been confirmed as well. CBS news says she died at her home, and that Lanza then took her car to the school
After killing 27 people there, the associated press quotes officials who say Adam Lanza died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
This is the older brother of the suspect.
Police say 24 year old Ryan Lanza was taken in for police questioning in Hoboken, New Jersey this afternoon...and so far, has been, quote, incredibly cooperative.
He's not under arrest...and is not being called a suspect.
A federal law enforcement source had earlier identified him to CNN as the accused in the shooting.
Now law enforcement officials say...that is not true...and have named his brother instead.
President Obama today..was visibly shaken...as he spoke of those lost.
< So our hearts are broken today for the parents and the grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children and for the families of the adults who were lost. Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children WIPES EYE innocence has been torn away from them too early and there are no words that will ease their pain.
This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know what every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we'll tell them that we love them and we'll remind each other how deeply we love one another but there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight WIPES EYE and they need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best WIPES EYE as Americans and I will do everything in my power as president to help.
On the other side of the political isle...Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner also putting aside politics today.
In a public statement...Boehner said..he would cancel his weekly GOP address so that the president...could speak for the entire nation as it mourns.
Now to put things in perspective the Newtown shooting is the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, behind only the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that left 32 people dead, not including the gunman.
So with the focus on school security...and how to prevent intruders from coming into school buildings ...we talked to representatives from Houston and Bibb Schools today.
In Houston, five schools received upgrades ...And a dozen more are in the process.
The improvements came from a SPLOST fund.
They included something called 'secure vestibles', which means there's only one way into a building.
When they were installed, Lorra Lynch Jones went to Perry Middle School for a look. Here's her story from October..
Now yesterday, we reported...that two students at Northside High School were caught with an unloaded gun.
In that case, a teacher intervened and the weapon was handed of with no problem.
Superintendent Robin Hines says...training worked exactly like it should have in that case.
We also contacted Bibb County schools...and received a statement about safety measures.
Horrific incidents like this one reinforce the Bibb County School District's commitment to do everything in our power to protect the safety of our students. The District takes this responsibility very seriously.
Our recent Safety and Security Audit gathered experts together to offer advice and a plan on how to improve school safety. Since then we have been aggressively phasing in their recommendations.
Proposals implemented this year include safety walk-throughs and regular random searches in an attempt to eradicate weapons and drugs from our campus. "
Coming up a little later in the show... Guidance for parents... As you try to explain what happened today in Connecticut, to your children.
What to say...and what kind of questions to expect from them...
Also, remembrances from a brother today...who lost his sister in another school shooting thirteen years ago.
But first, as we go to break...
another look at the hundreds who gathered for a vigil today.
That's in our nation's capital, just outside the White House.
Stay with us.
For any of us...news of a shooting that claimed 27 lives... Most of them children...is traumatic.
But for Craig Scott...today's events brought up a host of painful memories. That's because Scott lost his sister, Rachel, 13 years ago...in another shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.
Today...he took time to talk to Brenda Wood, of our sister station, WXIA in Atlanta....
Scott offered words of comfort to the families...and shared his reaction upon hearing today's news.
Here's a portion of that Skype interview.
Craig's sister, Rachel, would have been 31 years old now.
As we've been reporting, A gunman opened fire in a Connecticut elementary school today, killing more than two dozen people, including 20 students.
As a parent, how to you explain a tragedy like this to your kids?
Lisa Sylvester got advice from a psychiatrist on how to help them cope.
IF THERE'S AN IMAGE THAT SUMS UP THIS STORY IT IS THIS... ANY PARENT OUT THERE CAN RELATE. PSYCHIATRIST CHARLES RAISON IS WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA'S COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
"How do you wrap your mind around something like this? With a good deal of heartbreak and with the understanding that it's gonna take awhile and that there will be people that were closely impacted by this who will never wrap minds around this. You know, human minds are not infinite and, you know, this is now appearing to be the world school yard catastrophe in history and so there's gonna be a huge long-term fallout for this that is gonna also impact people's emotional well being and we need to gear ourselves up for that fallout because it's coming because this is a horrible thing."
THE NEWS OUT OF NEWTOWN IS TRAUMATIC FOR PARENTS...AND FOR CHILDREN... THIS HAPPENED AT A SCHOOL WHERE KIDS ARE SUPPOSED TO FEEL SAFE.
"How do you explain this to children? Well, again, it depends on the age of the child but I think simple, forthright explanations are the best, and I think....one of things that I tell children is there are some bad people in the world and sometimes bad people do really terrible things, and a terrible thing has happened and there have been some children killed and this is terrible, but you're safe...and you're safe and you're in a situation now where you're not gonna be harmed."
THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS OFFERS THIS ADVICE: TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE AGE OF THE CHILD AND PROVIDE BASIC INFORMATION WITHOUT OFFERING DETAILS THAT MAY ONLY ALARM THEM. ASK YOUR CHILDREN WHAT THEY ALREADY KNOW AND ANSWER QUESTIONS. PARENTS CAN SHARE THEIR OWN FEELINGS AND WAYS THEY'RE COPING... AND FIND MEANINGFUL WAY TO HELP OTHERS.
"Children are resilient and what really matters now is how we help them understand what's happened, but even I think more important is the sense of protection and safety that we give them, starting this moment and for the next week's and months."
FOR THOSE WHO WITNESSED, THOSE CHILDREN WHO SAW, THOSE WHO COVERED THEIR EYES AND EARS TO SHUT OUT THE HORROR....THEY NEED TIME, LOVE AND PRAYERS.
Experts say it's important to help children get back to their regular routine.
If they are too scared to return to school, parents should try to go with them as far as they will go.
And, avoid reinforcing the fear.