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What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012?

Dec. 14, 2012, is a day forever remembered by both members of the Newtown, Connecticut, community and the rest of the country.

What started out as a normal morning for the students and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary School quickly turned into tragedy when a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six staff members before taking his own life. 

At the time, Sandy Hook was the second-deadliest mass shooting in the United States, second to the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, where 32 students and teachers were killed. 


In 10 minutes, 20-year-old Adam Lanza entered the elementary school and stormed into two first-grade classrooms filled with children who were no older than 6 and 7 years old. Before entering Sandy Hook, he killed his mother Nancy at their home.

Lanza was able to get into the building by shooting through a plate-glass window shortly after 9:30 a.m. Dec. 14, 2012.

The school principal and the school psychologist fled in the direction of the sound to investigate and were killed by Lanza, who possessed a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle and two handguns.


Two people hugging outside Sandy Hook Elementary School

Around 9:40 a.m., after taking the lives of 26 people inside Sandy Hook, Lanza turned a gun on himself and died inside the building where he previously attended school as a boy. 

In November 2013, the Connecticut State’s Attorney released a report that stated Lanza had “significant mental health issues that affected his ability to live a normal life and to interact with others, even those to whom he should have been close.” 

The report also said mental health professionals who worked with Lanza “did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior.”

Parents of Sandy Hook victims


Shortly after the massacre, the original Sandy Hook building was demolished and a new school was built in its place. The new 86,000-square-foot school opened in 2016. Many of the victims’ families have come together to create a national nonprofit called Sandy Hook Promise in honor of the lives lost. The organization is focused on the prevention of gun violence. 

There has been controversy surrounding the shooting, including questions from Infowars host Alex Jones. 

Sandy Hook School

Jones, who was previously banned from X but has since been reinstated, discussed the allegations that the massacre was staged in an effort to tighten gun laws and never really happened. 

After his claims, he was sued by victims’ families, who won nearly $1.5 billion in judgments. The families of the victims testified in court that they faced threats and harassment by followers of Jones after his claims. Jones has issued several apologizes for his previous statements and said he doesn’t personally believe that the massacre was staged. 

“I apologize on every show. And I’ll say it again. I apologize that I just gave my commentary because I’m really just a guy – talk radio host. So, I do that on the internet. I just take calls and interview guests and I play devil’s advocate,” Jones explained during a talk with Elon Musk during X Spaces Conversation in December 2023.

“And if that hurt people’s feelings, I apologize. But I did not send people to your houses. I did not pee on graves. I don’t know any of the stuff that went on.”


Sandy Hook memorial

A memorial dedicated to the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting was also built in the aftermath of the shooting and opened in Nov. 2022. Bouquets of flowers floated counterclockwise in the waters of the circular memorial pool, passing the engraved names of the victims killed.


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