NEWTOWN, CT - The gunman in the Connecticut shooting rampage committed suicide as first responders closed in, the governor said Sunday, raising the specter that Adam Lanza had planned an even more gruesome massacre and was stopped short.
Lanza blasted his way into the building and used a high-power rifle to kill 20 children and six adults, including the principal who tried to stop him, authorities said.
As President Barack Obama prepared a visit and churches opened their doors to comfort a grieving town Sunday, federal agents fanned out to dozens of gun stores and shooting ranges across Connecticut, chasing leads they hoped would cast light on Lanza's life.
Among the questions: Why did his mother, a well-to-do suburban divorcee, keep a cache of high-power weapons in the house? What experience did Lanza have with those guns? And, above all, what set him on a path to go classroom-by-classroom, massacring 6- and 7-year-olds?
Speaking on ABC's "This Week," Gov. Dannel Malloy said Lanza shot himself as police entered the building.
"We surmise that it was during the second classroom episode that he heard responders coming and apparently at that, decided to take his own life," Malloy said.
Malloy offered no possible motive for the shooting and a law enforcement official has said police have found no letters or diaries left behind that could shed light on it.
Lanza shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, to death at the home they shared Friday, then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School in her car with at least three of her guns, forced his way in by breaking a window and opened fire, authorities said. Within minutes, he killed the children, six adults and himself.
All the victims at the school were shot with a rifle, at least some of them up close, and all were apparently shot more than once, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver said. There were as many as 11 shots on the bodies he examined.
All six adults killed at the school were women. Of the 20 children, eight were boys and 12 were girls.
Asked whether the children suffered, Carver said, "If so, not for very long." Asked how many bullets were fired, Carver said, "I'm lucky if I can tell you how many I found."
Parents identified the children through photos to spare them some shock, Carver said.
The terrible details about the last moments of young innocents emerged as authorities released their names and ages -- the youngest 6 and 7, the oldest 56. They included Ana Marquez-Greene, a little girl who had just moved to Newtown from Canada; Victoria Soto, a 27-year-old teacher who apparently died while trying to hide her pupils; and principal Dawn Hochsprung, who authorities said lunged at the gunman in an attempt to overtake him.
The tragedy has plunged Newtown into mourning and added the picturesque New England community of 27,000 people to the grim map of towns where mass shootings in recent years have periodically reignited the national debate over gun control but led to little change.
School officials were trying to determine what to do about sending the survivors back to class, Newtown police Lt. George Sinko said at a news conference Sunday.
Sinko said he "would find it very difficult" for students to return to the school. But, he added, "we want to keep these kids together. They need to support each other," he said.
Plans were being made for some students to attend classes in nearby Monroe, said Jim Agostine, superintendent of schools there.
Residents and faith leaders reflected Sunday on the mass shooting and what meaning, if any, to find in it. Obama planned to attend an interfaith vigil -- the fourth time he will have traveled to a city after a mass shooting.
At Saint Rose of Lima Roman Catholic church, Jennifer Waters, who at 6 is the same age as many of the victims and attends a different school, came to Mass on Sunday in Newtown with a lot of questions.
"The little children -- are they with the angels?" she asked her mother while fiddling with a small plastic figurine on a pew near the back of the church. "Are they going to live with the angels?"
Her mother, Joan, 45, assured her they were, then put a finger to her daughter's lips, urging her to be quiet.
An overflow crowd of more than 800 people attended the 9 a.m. service at the church, where eight children will be buried later this week. The gunman, Adam Lanza, and his mother also attended church here. Spokesman Brian Wallace said the diocese has yet to be asked to provide funerals for either.
Boxes of tissues were placed strategically in each pew and on each window sill. The altar was adorned with bouquets, one shaped as a broken heart, with a zigzag of red carnations cutting through the white ones.
In his homily, the Rev. Jerald Doyle, the diocesan administrator, tried to answer the question of how parishioners could find joy in the holiday season with so much sorrow surrounding them.
"You won't remember what I say, and it will become unimportant," he said. "But you will really hear deep down that word