All 20 child victims of Connecticut gunman Adam Lanza were first graders aged six or seven and some were shot up to 11 times, it has been revealed.
Police in Newtown released the names of the 26 people killed in the massacre on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown which has rocked the United States and reignited the country's gun control debate. Eight of the children were boys and 12 were girls. All six adults killed at the school were women.
Connecticut's chief medical examiner H Wayne Carver II told a press conference all the children killed were shot more than once, with the ones he examined personally shot between three and 11 times.
"Everybody's death was caused by gunshot wounds," he said. "And obviously the manner of the death in all these cases has been classified as homicide. I have been at this more than a third of a century... this probably is the worst I have seen, or the worst I know any of my colleagues have seen."
He added that all of those people he had examined so far had injuries sustained by shots from a "long weapon", reported to be a .223-calibre rifle, with only two people shot at close range in what is one of the country's worst school shootings. He said: "I believe everybody was hit more than once."
Gunman Lanza, 20, described as suffering from a personality disorder and being "somewhat autistic" by his older brother Ryan, 24, went on the rampage having already killed their mother Nancy at their home in the town. He killed himself after the shooting spree. Police said they believe he forced his way into the building, and said they had found evidence at the crime scenes that could explain his motives.
The bloodbath brought despair and horror to a smalltown US community, 60 miles north-east of New York City, preparing for the Christmas holidays.
State Police Lieutenant Paul Vance told a press conference: "Our investigators at the crime scene - the school - and secondarily at the secondary crime scene we discussed, where the female was located deceased, did produce some very good evidence in this investigation that our investigators will be able to use in, hopefully, painting the complete picture as to how, and more importantly, why this occurred," he said.
He also confirmed the gunman forced his way into the school, adding: "It is believed he was not voluntarily let into the school at all, that he forced his way into the school, but that is as far as we can go on that."
Tales emerged of heroism by teachers and other staff to protect the children. Principal Dawn Hochsprung reportedly lunged at Lanza before being shot.