Principal killed after lunging at shooter; evidence found at gunman’s home may point to motive

Jason Sickles
The Lookout

NEWTOWN, Conn.--The Sandy Hook school principal and another staffer were killed after lunging at a gunman who forced his way inside to begin a deadly shooting spree, the regional school superintendent said Saturday.

The principal, Dawn Hochsprung, 47, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, died along with 4 other adults and 20 children in the second deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The alleged shooter, 20-year old Adam Lanza, was found dead at the scene, and his mother, Nancy Lanza, was discovered dead at their home.

Newtown school superintendent Janet Robinson told reporters that the two educators and other staff members had put themselves in harms way to protect children once it became clear the school was under siege.

"The teachers were really, really focused on saving their students," Robinson said.

Police on Saturday said evidence recovered at gunman Lanza's home may provide a motive for the massacre.

State police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance declined to provide specifics about the evidence but said, "we're hopeful it will paint a complete picture."

Authorities say Lanza  killed his mother at their home Friday morning before driving to Sandy Hook.

[Related: Follow the latest updates from our reporters in Newtown]

Armed with two semi-automatic pistols, Lanza rapidly sprayed bullets in hallways and classrooms. Lanza killed himself before police officers could reach him.

Lt. Vance said all the bodies were removed from the school overnight. A medical examiner is expected to release the names of the victims later today.

Police have assigned a trooper to support each victim's family in the days ahead. Vance asked reporters to respect the families' grief and privacy.

"This is an extremely heartbreaking thing for them to endure," Lt. Vance said.

Police were expected to release the names of the victims Saturday afternoon. Some names were already being disclosed by family members, including teachers Lauren Rousseau, 30, and Vicki Soto, 27.

It will likely take investigators two more days to process the school crime scene where it is believed Lanza fired as many as 100 rounds from his guns.

"It's going to be a slow, painstaking process," Lt. Vance said.