When 28 people, including 20 school children, died today in a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., the commentators launched into discussions of mental illness and depression and speculation about a dozen other factors that may have influenced the attacker, identified as Adam Lanza, 20.
“Most mass killers have suffered some kind of chronic depression and frustration,” Jack Levin, a Northeastern University professor of sociology and criminology, told NPR. “They externalize responsibility, blaming everybody but themselves for their failings.
“Yet another unstable person has gotten access to firearms and committed an unspeakable crime against innocent children,” said Democratic New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler. “We cannot simply accept this a s a routine product of modern American life.
“How many more Columbines and Newtowns must we live through? I am challenging President Obama, the Congress, and the American public to act on our outrage and, finally, do something about this.”
Authorities report the another person was found dead in a home in Newtown, and the investigations were expected to take days.
The firing erupted in two rooms of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, one of which is a kindergarten classroom, according to reports. Lanza’s mother reportedly taught at the school.
House Speaker John Boehner ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff and Barack Obama said, “The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old.”
Police locked down the school, as well as the neighborhood, confirming the death toll in the school of some 700 students, with survivors released to their parents.
But it didn’t take long for a theme to emerge among opinions about the catastrophe.
“Evil visited this community today,” said Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy.
Franklin Graham, head of the Christian Samaritan’s Purse organization as well as leader of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, agreed.
“The Bible tells us the human heart is ‘wicked’ and ‘who can know it?’” he said. “My heart aches for the victims, their families and the entire community.
“One thing we can be absolutely sure of is that God loves each one of the victims and all those who are suffering right now as a result of this vicious act.”
“My hope and prayer is that our entire nation will embrace the community of Newtown with our love and cover them with our prayers, asking for God’s perfect comfort and peace in the midst of this dark hour,” he said.
WND columnist Matt Barber abruptly altered his plans to respond to the tragedy, penning “A Prayer for Sandy Hook.”
“The people of Sandy Hook assuredly cannot endure without your supernatural grace,” he wrote. “There are things so wicked we cannot bear.”
Longtime evangelist and prolific author Greg Laurie joined in. “All I can say is this was pure evil,” he wrote. “The heartlessness and wickedness of this man that did the shooting is really unimaginable.”
And evangelist Ray Comfort, whose new “Genius, the Movie,” talks about man’s need for God and what individuals will do without Him, agreed.
He cited another shooting attack, in a shopping center in the Northwest, just days earlier, by a man identified as Jacob Tyler Roberts, who shot and killed two others and then himself.
“His friends say that Roberts was a nice guy and that he lost his job and broke up with his girlfriend. No doubt the Connecticut killer suffered some sort of rejection also. But those things have happened to millions and they haven’t gone out and murdered people,” he said.
“‘Genius’ points to what every murderer has in common, something the ‘experts’ either don’t recognize or avoid talking about. But it’s there.”
Authorities report that the gunman was dead inside the school following his attack, and they were reporting that a girlfriend of Ryan Lanza, the apparent shooter’s brother, and another friend were missing.
Police said the attack apparently started when Adam Lanza got up Friday morning and shot and killed his mother. He allegedly then went to the school loaded with guns.
In Canada, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews took to social media, posting the note. “Our hearts go out to the victims … and their families. Today is a time for mourning and not politics.’
Nevertheless, on the White House website that allows individuals to create petitions, thousands of signatures followed the launch of several gun-control proposals.
Authorities reported they recovered several weapons at the school, including a .223 caliber rifle, a Glock handgun and a SIG Sauer handgun. Witnesses reported the attacker fired at least 100 rounds.
The shooting appears to be the worst since the 2007 Virginia Tech rampage where a student killed 32 classmates and wounded another 25.
Just this year, a gunman opened fire at an Oregon mall and killed two others, a man shot and killed six people and a policeman at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., and a lone gunman killed 12 and injured 58 at a July attack on a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Also, a former student at an Oakland, Calif., college shot and killed seven.
In 2011, seven were killed in at attack on Ohio, and in 2009 11 people were killed in Geneva, Ala.
The school’s website was redirecting to a message: “To help deal with the events of today, there will be a memorial mass this evening at 7 p.m. at St. Rose Church.”
That church’s site explained, “Let us come together to pray for and support the families directly affected by today’s events, as well as the Newtown community at large.”
Some of the most heart-rending stories came from the children themselves.
According to NPR, as some were led from the building after the massacre, the children “were told to hold each others’ hands and ‘close our eyes.’”
Laurie wrote, “At times like this we need perspective. An eternal perspective. We need to remember this life on earth is not all there is. There is an afterlife and there earthly wrongs are righted. There is a final judgment for this man and others like him that commit these heinous crimes and they will have to face God.
“There is also great safety for those beautiful children who I believe are all in Heaven right now resting in the arms of Jesus. No harm will come to them again. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”