Obama's speech caps emotion-charged memorial service in Newtown - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Obama's speech caps emotion-charged memorial service for Newtown shooting victims

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Peter Lanza, the father of gunman Adam Lanza, released a statement on Saturday. (Source: LinkedIn/CNN) Peter Lanza, the father of gunman Adam Lanza, released a statement on Saturday. (Source: LinkedIn/CNN)
A picture of Adam Lanza from 2005. He is the shooter of 26 people and his mother in Newtown, CT on Friday. (Source: Kateleen Foy/CNN) A picture of Adam Lanza from 2005. He is the shooter of 26 people and his mother in Newtown, CT on Friday. (Source: Kateleen Foy/CNN)
The community of Newtown, CT gather for vigils throughout Saturday in honor of the 26 slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday. (Source: CNN) The community of Newtown, CT gather for vigils throughout Saturday in honor of the 26 slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday. (Source: CNN)

NEWTOWN, CT (RNN) - President Barack Obama spoke at an interfaith memorial service and prayer vigil held Sunday night for the 26 people who were killed in a Newtown, CT, elementary school shooting.

The president said that the Newtown community is an inspiration for coming together and supporting each other after the tragedy. He also touched on the nation's need to change to help prevent such tragedies from continuously happening.

"If there's even one step we can take to save a child, or another parent or another town … then surely we have an obligation to try," said Obama.

"We can't accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say we are powerless in the face of such carnage?" he added.

Towards the end of his speech, Obama read the names of the children who died.

"God has called them all home," he said.

The president was one of the last speakers of the night that included Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, Newtown First Selectwoman Patricia Llodra and religious leaders from faiths that included Judaism, Methodist, Episcopal, Islam, Baha'i, Lutheran and Roman Catholic.

On Sunday afternoon, investigators announced Newtown school gunman Adam Lanza's death has officially been ruled a suicide after he killed 20 children and six adults Friday morning.

The death of his mother, 52-year-old Nancy Lanza, was ruled a homicide. Police said she was shot multiple times at the family's home.

Autopsies on the 26 victims who died inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School were completed by Saturday. All died of gunshot wounds and their deaths have all been ruled as homicides. Police said each of the victims was shot multiple times by a rifle.

Investigators are still trying to piece together a possible motive for the shooting.

"We don't have a specific reason we can stand here and say this occurred," Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police said to reporters.

Adam Lanza, 20, entered the school with three guns - two handguns and the assault rifle that he used to force his way in and kill most of his victims - he had hundreds of bullets with him, and multiple high capacity magazines.

A shotgun that was not used was found inside his car parked outside of the school.

The official spokesman for Connecticut State Police said Sunday that the investigation into the Newtown shootings could take weeks.

In the news conference police said people are posting false information on social media sites posing as the shooter or claiming to be state authorities, which has become a major concern in this investigation.

Vance said they are taking this very seriously and anyone found posting misinformation will be prosecuted, calling the information "threatening and inaccurate."

Vance said investigators have compiled a great deal of information but have not established a timeline of the Friday events that led to the deaths.

He told reporters that although there is nothing new to report, the investigation is "moving forward" and that evidence has been collected is currently being analyzed.

Obama visited Newtown on Sunday to aid in the grieving process left in the wake of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. He met with the families of the slain, the first responders and attended the interfaith vigil in honor of the 26 killed at the school, according to The Associated Press.

Police confirmed after an alleged bomb threat was called in at a nearby church Sunday afternoon that Obama will have "significant security."

Police cleared the scene of the Catholic church after everyone was evacuated during a noon mass, nothing was found.

On Friday, Obama addressed media, wiping tears from his eyes as he discussed the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He called for "meaningful action" to take place against gun violence, but he did not specifically detail any measures on controlling gun violence.

"We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years," said the president. "I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do."

On Saturday, Connecticut State Police and Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver II discussed specifics about the elementary school turned crime scene. Among the 26 killed at the school, all six adults were women. Among the children, 12 of those killed were girls, the other eight were boys. All of the children were in the first grade and 16 of the children were only 6 years old.

All of the victims were shot with the .223 Bushmaster rifle. Adam Lanza also had a Glock and a Sig Sauer in his possession. All three guns were registered to Nancy Lanza.

Carver also addressed questions about whether the children suffered any pain from their injuries. "If so," he said, "not for very long."

The victims' families have begun to speak about those whose lives were lost in the shooting.

Emilie Parker was spoken of fondly by her father, Robbie Parker, who addressed media on Saturday.

At 6 years old, Emilie was the oldest of the Parkers' three girls and a shoulder to cry on for her two younger sisters.

"Emilie was bright, creative and very loving," her father said tearfully. "She was an exceptional artist," he said. "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."

Robbie Parker stated that his last conversation with Emilie was in Portuguese, a foreign language that he had been teaching the child. They told each other "I love you" and he kissed her goodbye as he left for work.

Robbie Parker also expressed condolences to the Lanza family, and expressed no ill-will towards the shooter.

"The person (Adam Lanza) that chose to act this way was acting with a God-given agency … with his own free agency," he said. "God can't take that away.

Family friends have begun a Facebook page to raise money for the Parker family, in honor of Emilie.

Also among the dead was first-grade teacher Victoria Soto, 27. Soto is seen as a hero after reportedly being killed while shielding her students from gunfire.

"I think her putting herself out there - she's just an angel and she went straight into heaven," said Soto's family friend, Sarah Carroza.

One of the many vigils in Newtown was held in her honor on Saturday night.

Also lost in the school shooting are key members of Sandy Hook Elementary School's administration: Principal Dawn Hocksprung, 47, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56. Both beloved members of the school and Newtown community were gunned down by Adam Lanza as he entered the school.

The father of the shooter, Peter Lanza, released a statement on Saturday, expressing grief regarding the shootings. In part, the father's statement said the Lanza family "is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy."

"Our hearts go out to the family and friends who've lost loved ones," the statement continues. "No words can truly express how heartbroken we are."

Autopsies for Adam Lanza and Nancy Lanza will be released on Sunday. They are the last to be identified by the medical examiner.

More information has been discovered about Nancy Lanza. No link between Nancy Lanza and the elementary school has been discovered, despite initial reports that she was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary. According to the AP, she was once a stockbroker for John Hancock in Boston.

"She was a very involved in the community and very well-respected," said Donald Briggs Jr., Kingston, NH, police chief and Lanza family friend.

"The family of Nancy Lanza shares the grief of the community and nation as we struggle to comprehend the tremendous loss that we all share," said Nancy Lanza family representative and Rockingham County, NH, Sheriff Mike Downing.

No information has been released about the motive of the shooter. According to the AP, an official who wanted to remain anonymous said that investigators have recovered "no note or manifesto from Lanza" in regards to his actions.

The Connecticut State Police chief did state, however, that "very good evidence" had been found through the investigations "painting the complete picture" of specifics. He did not clarify beyond that.

Reports have been mixed about the shooter and his mental state. Some relatives and classmates remember Adam Lanza as "smart" but "remote" and "a loner."

"If that boy (Adam Lanza) would have burned himself, he would have not known it or felt it," said former Newtown School District Head of Security Richard Novia to the AP in a phone conversation.

His brother, Ryan Lanza, told officials while being questioned that he had a personality disorder. An anonymous official told the AP that Adam Lanza had a history of mental illness.

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