- 1598 – Admiral Yi Sun-sin's Korean navy defeated the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Noryang, the final naval battle of the Imjin War.
- 1653 – Oliver Cromwell (pictured) becameLord Protector of the Commonwealth of England.
- 1761 – Seven Years' War: Russian forces capturedKolberg, Prussia's last port on the Baltic coast, after afour-month siege.
- 1918 – Vincas Mickevičius-Kapsukas declared the formation of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, a puppet state created by Soviet Russia to justify theLithuanian–Soviet War.
- 1930 – Herman Lamm, "the father of modern bank robbery", was shot and killed during a botched robbery attempt in Clinton, Indiana, US.
- 755 – An Lushan revolts against Chancellor Yang Guozhong at Yanjing, initiating the An Lushan Rebellionduring the Tang Dynasty of China.
- 1431 – Henry VI of England is crowned King of France at Notre Dame in Paris, France.
- 1497 – Vasco da Gama rounds the Cape of Good Hope, the point where Bartolomeu Dias had previously turned back to Portugal.
- 1575 – The 1575 Valdivia earthquake takes place.
- 1598 – Seven Year War: Battle of Noryang – The final battle of the Seven Year War is fought between the China and the Korean Allied Forces and Japanese navies, resulting in a decisive Allied Forces victory.
- 1653 – English Interregnum: The Protectorate – Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.
- 1689 – Convention Parliament: The Declaration of Right is embodied in the Bill of Rights.
- 1707 – Last recorded eruption of Mount Fuji in Japan.
- 1761 – Seven Years' War: After a four-month siege, the Russians under Pyotr Rumyantsev take the Prussianfortress of Kołobrzeg.
- 1773 – American Revolution: Boston Tea Party – Members of the Sons of Liberty disguised as Mohawks dump crates of tea into Boston harbor as a protest against the Tea Act.
- 1811 – The first two in a series of four severe earthquakes occur in the vicinity of New Madrid, Missouri. These four so-called mega-quakes are believed to be an ongoing cataclysmic danger that could reprise the 1811-12 series of 2,000 quakes that affected the lands of what would be eight of today's heartland states of the United States.
- 1826 – Benjamin W. Edwards rides into Mexican controlled Nacogdoches, Texas and declares himself ruler of the Republic of Fredonia.
- 1838 – Battle of Blood River: Voortrekkers led by Andries Pretorius and Sarel Cilliers defeat Zulu impis, led by Dambuza (Nzobo) and Ndlela kaSompisi in what is today KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
- 1850 – History of New Zealand: The Charlotte Jane and the Randolph bring the first of the Canterbury Pilgrims to Lyttelton, New Zealand.
- 1863 – American Civil War: Joseph E. Johnston replaces Braxton Bragg as commander of the Army of Tennessee.
- 1864 – American Civil War: Franklin–Nashville Campaign – Battle of Nashville – Major General George Thomas's Union forces defeat Lieutenant General John Bell Hood's Confederate Army of Tennessee.
- 1903 – Taj Mahal Palace & Tower first opened its doors to the guests.
- 1907 – The Great White Fleet begins its circumnavigation of the world
- 1912 – First Balkan War: The Battle of Elli takes place.
- 1914 – World War I: German battleships under Franz von Hipper bombard the English ports of Hartlepool and Scarborough.
- 1918 – Vincas Mickevičius-Kapsukas declares the formation of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic.
- 1920 – The Haiyuan earthquake, magnitude 8.5, rocks the Gansu province in China, killing an estimated 200,000.
- 1922 – President of Poland Gabriel Narutowicz is assassinated by Eligiusz Niewiadomski at the Zachęta Gallery in Warsaw.
- 1930 – Bank robber Herman Lamm and members of his crew are killed by a posse of 200, following a botched bank robbery in Clinton, Indiana.
- 1937 – Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe attempt to escape from the American federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay; neither is ever seen again.
- 1938 – Adolf Hitler institutes the Cross of Honor of the German Mother
- 1941 – World War II: Japanese forces occupy Miri, Sarawak
- 1942 – Holocaust: Porajmos – Heinrich Himmler orders that Roma candidates for extermination be deported to Auschwitz.
- 1944 – World War II: The Battle of the Bulge begins with the surprise offensive of three German armies through the Ardennes forest.
- 1946 – Thailand joins the United Nations.
- 1947 – William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain build the first practical point-contact transistor.
- 1950 – U.S. President Harry S. Truman declares a state of emergency, after Chinese troops enter the fight with communist North Korea in theKorean War.
- 1957 – Sir Feroz Khan Noon replaces Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar as Prime Minister of Pakistan.
- 1960 – 1960 New York air disaster: While approaching New York, New York's Idlewild Airport, a United Airlines Douglas DC-8 collides with aTWA Lockheed Super Constellation in a blinding snowstorm over Staten Island, killing 134.
- 1965 – Vietnam War: General William Westmoreland sends U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara a request for 243,000 more men by the end of 1966.
- 1971 – Bangladesh Liberation War and Indo-Pakistani War of 1971: The surrender of the Pakistan Army brings an end to both conflicts.
- 1971 – "National Day" of the Kingdom of Bahrain is celebrated. Not to be confused with Bahrain Independence Day which took place on August 15, 1971.
- 1972 – Vietnam War: Henry Kissinger announces that North Vietnam has left private peace negotiations, in Paris, France.
- 1972 – Vijay Diwas: (Victory Day) is commemorated every 16 December in India as it marks its military victory over Pakistan in 1971 during theIndo-Pakistani War of 1971.
- 1978 – Cleveland, Ohio becomes the first post-Depression era city to default on its loans, owing $14,000,000 to local banks.
- 1979 – Libya joins four other OPEC nations in raising crude oil prices, having an immediate dramatic effect on the United States.
- 1985 – Mafia: In New York, New York, Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti are shot dead on the orders of John Gotti, who assumes leadership of the Gambino family.
- 1986 – Revolt in Kazakhstan against Communist Party of Kazakhstan, known as Jeltoqsan, which becomes the first sign of ethnic strife duringSoviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's tenure
- 1989 – Protests break out in Timișoara, Romania in response to an attempt by the government to evict dissident Hungarian pastor László Tőkés.
- 1989 – Walter LeRoy Moody begins his terrorist bombing streak when he sends Judge Robert Smith Vance a bomb in the mail, instantly killing him near his house in Birmingham, Alabama.
- 1991 – Independence of Kazakhstan.
- 1997 – An episode of Pokémon, "Dennō Senshi Porygon", aired in Japan induces seizures in 685 Japanese children.
- 1998 – Iraq disarmament crisis: Operation Desert Fox – The United States and United Kingdom bomb targets in Iraq.
- 2003 – President George W. Bush signs the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 into law. The law establishes the United States' first national standards for the sending of commercial e-mail and requires the Federal Trade Commission to enforce its provisions.
- 1485 – Catherine of Aragon, consort of Henry VIII of England (d. 1536)
- 1584 – John Selden, English jurist and oriental scholar (d. 1654)
- 1614 – Eberhard III, Duke of Württemberg (d. 1674)
- 1714 – George Whitefield, English-born Methodist leader (d. 1770)
- 1716 – Louis-Jules Mancini-Mazarini, Duc de Nivernais, French diplomat and writer (d. 1798)
- 1717 – Elizabeth Carter, English writer (d. 1806)
- 1742 – Gebhard Fürst Blücher von Wahlstatt, German Field Marshal (d. 1819)
- 1775 – Jane Austen, English writer (d. 1817)
- 1770 – Ludwig van Beethoven, German composer and pianist (d. 1827)
- 1775 – François-Adrien Boïeldieu, French composer (d. 1834)
- 1776 – Johann Wilhelm Ritter, German physicist (d. 1810)
- 1778 – John Ordronaux, privateer of the War of 1812 (d. 1841)
- 1787 – Mary Russell Mitford, English writer (d. 1855)
- 1790 – King Leopold I of Belgium (d. 1865)
- 1804 – Viktor Bunyakovsky, Russian mathematician (d. 1889)
- 1834 – Léon Walras, French economist (d. 1910)
- 1861 – Antonio de La Gandara, French painter (d. 1917)
- 1863 – George Santayana, Spanish philosopher and writer (d. 1952)
- 1865 – Olavo Bilac, Brazilian poet (d. 1918)
- 1866 – Wassily Kandinsky, Russian-born French abstract painter (d. 1944)
- 1867 – Amy Carmichael, missionary in Dohnavur, India (d. 1951)
- 1869 – Hristo Tatarchev, Bulgarian revolutionary (d. 1952)
- 1872 – Anton Ivanovich Denikin, Russian general (d. 1947)
- 1882 – Sir Jack Hobbs, English cricketer (d. 1963)
- 1882 – Zoltán Kodály, Hungarian composer (d. 1967)
- 1882 – Walther Meissner, German physicist (d. 1974)
- 1883 – Károly Kós, Hungarian architect, writer and politician from Transylvania (d. 1977)
- 1883 – Max Linder, French pioneer of silent film (d. 1925)
- 1888 – King Alexander I of Yugoslavia (d. 1934)
- 1888 – Alphonse Juin, marshal of France (d. 1967)
- 1889 – Kim Jwa-jin, played an important role in the Korean Anarchist Movement (d. 1930)
- 1899 – Sir Noël Coward, English playwright, actor and composer (d. 1973)
- 1900 – V. S. Pritchett, English author and critic (d. 1997)
- 1901 – Margaret Mead, American anthropologist (d. 1978)
- 1902 – Rafael Alberti, Spanish poet (d. 1999)
- 1902 – Yu Gwan-sun, Korean independence fighter (d. 1920)
- 1903 – Hardie Albright, American actor (d. 1975)
- 1905 – Piet Hein, Danish mathematician and inventor (d. 1996)
- 1907 – Barbara Kent, Canadian-born American silent film actress and WAMPAS Baby Stars (d. 2011)
- 1913 – George Ignatieff, Russian-born Canadian diplomat (d. 1989)
- 1915 – Turk Murphy, American trombonist (d. 1987)
- 1916 – Birgitta Valberg, Swedish actress
- 1917 – Nabi Bux Khan Baloch, Sindhi scholar (d. 2011)
- 1917 – Sir Arthur C. Clarke, English writer (d. 2008)
- 1917 – Ruth Johnson Colvin, Founder of Literacy Volunteers of America
- 1918 – Pierre Delanoë, French songwriter and lyricist (d. 2006)
- 1920 – Frederick Rotimi Williams, Nigerian politician and jurist (d. 2005)
- 1922 – Cy Leslie, American music and video executive (d. 2008)
- 1923 – Menahem Pressler, German-Israeli pianist.
- 1926 – James McCracken, American tenor (d. 1988)
- 1927 – Randall Garrett, American writer (d. 1987)
- 1928 – Terry Carter, American actor
- 1928 – Philip K. Dick, American writer (d. 1982)
- 1929 – Nicholas Courtney, English actor (d. 2011)
- 1931 – Karl Denver, Scottish recording artist (d. 1998)
- 1932 – Rodion Shchedrin, Soviet/Russian composer
- 1932 – Quentin Blake, English Illustrator
- 1934 – Rodolfo_Llinás, Colombian neuroscientist
- 1936 – Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center
- 1937 – Joyce Bulifant, American actress
- 1938 – Frank Deford, American sportswriter
- 1938 – Liv Ullmann, Norwegian actress
- 1939 – Philip Langridge, English opera singer (d. 2010)
- 1941 – Robert Kerman, American actor
- 1941 – Lesley Stahl, American journalist
- 1942 – Donald Carcieri, American politician, governor of Rhode Island
- 1942 – Eugene Robert Glazer, American actor
- 1943 – Steven Bochco, American television producer and writer
- 1943 – Tony Hicks, English guitarist (The Hollies)
- 1944 – Jeff Kanew, American film director, writer and editor
- 1944 – Don Meyer, American basketball coach
- 1944 – N!xau, Namibian actor and bush farmer (d. 2003)
- 1945 – Patti Deutsch, American actress and Match Game panelist
- 1945 – Bobby George, English professional darts player
- 1945 – Yukio Hattori, Japanese television commentator
- 1946 – Benny Andersson, Swedish musician, singer and songwriter (ABBA)
- 1946 – Charles Dennis, Canadian actor
- 1946 – Christopher Ellison, English actor
- 1946 – Terence Knox, American actor
- 1946 – Trevor Pinnock, English conductor and harpsichordist
- 1946 – Tom Stern, American cinematographer
- 1947 – Ben Cross, English actor
- 1947 – Vincent Matthews, American sprinter
- 1948 – Christopher Biggins, English actor
- 1949 – Billy Gibbons, American guitarist (ZZ Top)
- 1950 – Claudia Cohen, American gossip columnist and socialite (d. 2007)
- 1950 – Roy Schuiten, Dutch cyclist (d. 2006)
- 1951 – Robben Ford, American guitarist
- 1951 – Mike Flanagan, American baseball pitcher (d. 2011)
- 1951 – Mark Heard, American record producer, folk-rock singer, and songwriter (d. 1992)
- 1952 – Joel Garner, Barbadian cricketer
- 1952 – Francesco Graziani, Italian footballer
- 1953 – Rebecca Forstadt, American voice actor
- 1955 – Xander Berkeley, American actor
- 1955 – Carol Browner, American environmentalist and government official
- 1955 – Prince Lorenz of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este
- 1957 – Antonio Vega, Spanish pop singer-songwriter (d. 2009)
- 1958 – Katie Leigh, American voice actress
- 1958 – Bart Oates, American football player
- 1959 – Alison LaPlaca, American actress
- 1959 – Steve Mattsson, American writer
- 1959 – Larry Poindexter, American actor and singer
- 1960 – Pat Van Den Hauwe, Belgian footballer
- 1960 – Canuto Kallan, Danish visual artist
- 1961 – Andre Andersen, Russian/Danish multi-instrumentalist and composer
- 1961 – Shane Black, American actor, writer and director
- 1961 – Bill Hicks, American comedian (d. 1994)
- 1961 – LaChanze, American singer
- 1961 – David Wild, American writer
- 1961 – Gretchen Palmer, American actress
- 1961 – Sam Robards, American actor
- 1961 – Jon Tenney, American actor
- 1962 – Maruschka Detmers, Dutch actress
- 1962 – William Perry, American football player
- 1962 – Melanie Smith, American actress
- 1963 – Benjamin Bratt, American actor
- 1963 – Jeff Carson, American singer
- 1963 – James Mangold, American film director and screenwriter
- 1964 – Heike Drechsler, East German sprinter
- 1964 – Gail Harris, English actress
- 1964 – Georgie Parker, Australian actress
- 1964 – Billy Ripken, American baseball player
- 1964 – Paul Vogt, American actor and comedian
- 1965 – Chris Jones, American baseball player
- 1965 – Melanie Sloan, American attorney
- 1965 – Nancy Valen, American actress
- 1966 – Clifford Robinson, American basketball player
- 1966 – Dennis Wise, English footballer
- 1967 – Donovan Bailey, Jamaican/Canadian sprinter,
- 1967 – Mark Palmer, American ambassador
- 1967 – Miranda Otto, Australian actress
- 1968 – Peter Dante, American actor
- 1968 – Lalah Hathaway, American singer
- 1968 – Mark Dean Schwab, American rapist and murderer (d. 2008)
- 1969 – Florencia Lozano, American actress
- 1969 – Adam Riess, American astrophysicist, Nobel Laureate
- 1969 – Shane, American adult film actress
- 1970 – Valerie Chow, Hong Kong actress
- 1970 – Daniel Cosgrove, American actor
- 1971 – Michael McCary, American singer (Boyz II Men)
- 1971 – Seyhan Kurt, French/Turkish poet,writer
- 1971 – Paul van Dyk, German DJ
- 1972 – Angela Bloomfield, New Zealand actress
- 1972 – Charles Gipson, American baseball player
- 1972 – Željko Kalac, Australian footballer
- 1972 – Paul Leyden, Australian actor
- 1973 – Sarah Kozer, American model and actress
- 1973 – Themba Mnguni, South African footballer
- 1973 – Luisa Ranieri, Italian actress
- 1973 – Scott Storch, Canadian/American hip-hop producer
- 1974 – Frida Hallgren, Swedish actress
- 1974 – Earl C. Poitier, American actor
- 1975 – Valentin Bădoi, Romanian footballer
- 1975 – Nawo Kawakita, Japanese drummer (Maximum the Hormone)
- 1975 – Benjamin Kowalewicz, Canadian musician (Billy Talent)
- 1975 – Jonathan Scarfe, Canadian actor
- 1977 – Éric Bélanger, Canadian ice hockey player
- 1977 – Sylvain Distin, French footballer
- 1978 – Joe Absolom, English actor
- 1978 – John Morris, Canadian Curler
- 1978 – Gunter Van Handenhoven, Belgian footballer
- 1979 – Trevor Immelman, South African golfer
- 1979 – Mihai Trăistariu, Romanian singer
- 1979 – Jessie Ward, American professional wrestler
- 1979 – Flo Rida, American rapper and singer
- 1981 – Krysten Ritter, American actress
- 1981 – Anna Sedokova, Ukrainian singer
- 1981 – Gareth Williams, Scottish footballer
- 1982 – Garnon Davies, Welsh actor
- 1982 – Justin Mentell, American artist and actor (d. 2010)
- 1982 – Antrel Rolle, American football player
- 1982 – Stanislav Šesták, Slovakian footballer
- 1983 – Kelenna Azubuike, American basketball player
- 1983 – Frankie Ballard, American singer
- 1983 – Danielle Lloyd, English model
- 1984 – Theo James, American actor
- 1985 – Amanda Setton, American actress
- 1985 – Keita Tachibana, Japanese singer (w-inds.)
- 1986 – Candice Crawford, American beauty queen and sports reporter
- 1986 – Alcides Escobar, Venezuelan baseball player
- 1987 – Mame Biram Diouf, Senegalese footballer
- 1987 – Beau Dowler, Australian rules footballer
- 1987 – Hallee Hirsh, American actress
- 1988 – Anna Popplewell, English actress
- 1988 – Mats Hummels, German footballer
- 1990 – Julito McCullum, American actor
- 1992 – Ulrikke Eikeri, Norwegian tennis player
- 1993 – Lola Créton, French actress
- 1999 – Bryce Robinson, American actor
- 705 – Empress Wu of Zhou (b. 625)
- 714 – Pippin of Herstal, Frankish noble
- 867 – Eberhard of Friuli
- 999 – Saint Adelaide of Italy (b. 931)
- 1325 – Charles of Valois, son of Philip III of France (b. 1270)
- 1378 – Otto III of Montferrat
- 1379 – John FitzAlan, 1st Baron Arundel, British noble and naval commander
- 1470 – John II, Duke of Lorraine (b. 1425)
- 1515 – Afonso de Albuquerque Portuguese naval commander (b. 1453)
- 1598 – Yi Sun-sin, Korean admiral (b. 1545)
- 1669 – Nathaniel Fiennes, English politician (b. c. 1608)
- 1687 – William Petty, English scientist and philosopher (b. 1623)
- 1751 – Leopold II of Anhalt-Dessau, Prussian general (b. 1700)
- 1765 – Peter Frederick Haldimand, Swiss military officer and surveyor (b. 1741/42)
- 1774 – François Quesnay, French economist (b. 1694)
- 1783 – Johann A. Hasse, German composer (b. 1699)
- 1783 – Sir William James, British naval commander (b. 1720)
- 1809 – Antoine François, comte de Fourcroy, French chemist (b. 1755)
- 1859 – Wilhelm Grimm, German writer and folklorist (b. 1786)
- 1892 – Henry Yesler, American entrepreneur and politician (b. 1810)
- 1897 – Alphonse Daudet, French novelist and short story writer (b. 1840)
- 1898 – Pavel Tretyakov, Russian businessman and art collector (b. 1832)
- 1914 – Ivan Zajc, Croatian composer (b. 1832)
- 1916 – Ognjeslav Kostović Stepanović, Serbian inventor (b. 1851)
- 1921 – Camille Saint-Saëns, French composer (b. 1835)
- 1922 – Gabriel Narutowicz, Polish politician (b. 1865)
- 1925 – Maurice Lecoq, French sports shooter (b. 1854)
- 1928 – Elinor Wylie, American poet and writer (b. 1885)
- 1930 – Herman Lamm, German-born American bank robber (b. 1890)
- 1935 – Thelma Todd, American actress (b. 1905)
- 1940 – Billy Hamilton, American baseball player (b. 1866)
- 1944 – Betsie ten Boom, sister of Corrie ten Boom and Holocaust victim (b. 1885)
- 1945 – Giovanni Agnelli, Italian automobile manufacturer (b. 1866)
- 1945 – Fumimaro Konoye, Japanese politician (b. 1891)
- 1948 – Denham Fouts, American gigolo and socialite (b. 1914)
- 1949 – Sidney Olcott, Canadian film director (b. 1873)
- 1952 – Robert Henry Best, South Carolina-born broadcaster of Nazi propaganda convicted of treason in 1948 (b. 1896)
- 1956 – Nina Hamnett, Welsh artist (b. 1890)
- 1963 – Nam Phương, Emperor of Vietnam (b. 1914)
- 1965 – W. Somerset Maugham, English writer (b. 1874)
- 1968 – Futabayama Sadaji, Japanese sumo wrestler, the 35th Yokozuna (b. 1912)
- 1968 – General Muhammad Suheimat, Jordanian military commander and statesman (b.1916)
- 1976 – Réal Caouette, French-Canadian politician (b. 1917)
- 1977 – Risto Jarva, Finnish filmmaker (b. 1934)
- 1980 – Colonel Sanders, American fast food entrepreneur (b. 1890)
- 1980 – Hellmuth Walter, German engineer and inventor (b. 1900)
- 1982 – Colin Chapman, English engineer and automobile manufacturer (b. 1928)
- 1983 – Debs Garms, American baseball player (b. 1907)
- 1985 – Thomas Bilotti, American organized crime figure (b. 1940)
- 1985 – Paul Castellano, American organized crime figure (b. 1915)
- 1988 – Sylvester James, American singer (b. 1948)
- 1989 – Óscar Alfredo Gálvez, Argentine racing driver (b. 1913)
- 1989 – Silvana Mangano, Italian actress (b. 1930)
- 1989 – Aileen Pringle, American actress (b. 1895)
- 1989 – Lee Van Cleef, American actor (b. 1925)
- 1990 – Douglas Campbell, American aviator (b. 1896)
- 1991 – Tamási Eszter, Hungarian TV announcer and actress (b. 1938)
- 1993 – Moses Gunn, American actor (b. 1929)
- 1993 – Tanaka Kakuei, Japanese politician (b. 1918)
- 1993 – Charizma, American Hip-Hop MC (b. 1973)
- 1995 – Johnny Moss, American poker player (b. 1907)
- 1995 – Mariele Ventre, Italian choir director (b. 1939)
- 1996 – Quentin Bell, English art historian (b. 1910)
- 1997 – Lillian Disney, widow of Walt Disney (b. 1899)
- 1997 – Nicolette Larson, American singer (b. 1952)
- 1998 – William Gaddis, American writer (b. 1922)
- 2001 – Stuart Adamson, English-born Scottish musician (The Skids, Big Country) (b. 1958)
- 2001 – Stefan Heym, German author (b. 1913)
- 2003 – Robert Stanfield, Canadian politician (b. 1914)
- 2003 – Gary Stewart, American musician and songwriter (b. 1945)
- 2004 – Ted Abernathy, American baseball player (b. 1933)
- 2004 – Deyda Hydara, Gambian journalist (b. 1946)
- 2005 – Kenneth Bulmer, English author (b. 1921)
- 2005 – Ed Hansen, American film director and editor (b. 1937)
- 2005 – John Spencer, American actor (b. 1946)
- 2006 – Don Jardine, Canadian professional wrestler (b. 1940)
- 2006 – Taliep Petersen, South African singer and composer (b. 1950)
- 2006 – Pnina Salzman, Israeli pianist (b. 1922)
- 2007 – Dan Fogelberg, American singer/songwriter (b. 1951)
- 2009 – Roy E. Disney, American film industry executive (b. 1930)
- 2009 – Yegor Gaidar, Russian politician (b. 1956)
- 2009 – Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, South African physician and politician (b. 1940)
- 2010 – Melvin E. Biddle, American soldier and Medal of Honor recipient (b. 1923)
- 2011 – Dan Frazer, American actor (b. 1921)
Holidays and observances
- Christian Feast Day:
- Day of Reconciliation, formerly celebrated as Day of the Vow by the Afrikaners (South Africa)
- Independence Day, celebrates the independence of Kazakhstan from the Soviet Union in 1991.
- National Day, celebrates the withdrawal of United Kingdom from Bahrain, making Bahrain an independent emirate in 1971. However December 16 is only the date on which the state celebrates the event, while the actual day on which the independence of Bahrain was declared was August 15, 1971 (see Bahrain Independence Day)
- National Sports Day (Thailand)
- Nine-day celebration of Mary and Joseph's search for a place to stay where Jesus could be born begins (Hispanidad):
- Victory Day (Bangladesh)
- Victory Day (India)
NEWTOWN, CONN. – Federal investigators planned to visit dozens of shooting ranges and gun stores across Connecticut Sunday, attempting to figure out what led smart but painfully awkward 20-year-old Adam Lanza to murder 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, while townspeople and President Obama prepared to attend an interfaith vigil amid sorrow and confusion.
The tragedy brought forth soul-searching and grief around the globe. Families as far away as Puerto Rico began to plan funerals for victims who still had their baby teeth, world leaders extended condolences, and vigils were held around the U.S.
The gunman's father released a statement on Saturday.
"Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those who were injured," Peter Lanza said. "Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy. No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can. We too are asking why. We have cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so. Like so many of you, we are saddened, but struggling to make sense of what has transpired."
The victims of the shooting were shot multiple times by rifle, the medical examiner said Saturday, and Dr. H. Wayne Carver said the deaths are classified as homicides. Police began releasing the identities of the dead.
Police said they had found "very good evidence" they hoped would answer questions about the motives of the gunman, described as brilliant but remote, who forced his way into the school and killed 26 children and adults in one of the world's worst mass shootings.
Lt. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police said Saturday morning that the suspect was not voluntarily let into the school.
Lanza shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, drove to the school in her car with at least three guns, including a high-powered rifle that he apparently left in the back of the vehicle, and shot up two classrooms around 9:30 a.m. Friday, law enforcement officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A custodian ran through the halls, warning of a gunman on the loose, and someone switched on the intercom, alerting people in the building to the attack -- and perhaps saving many lives -- by letting them hear the hysteria going on in the school office, a teacher said. Teachers locked their doors and ordered children to huddle in a corner or hide in closets as shots echoed through the building.
Lanza was found dead inside the school, according to officials. Eighteen of the children and six more adults were dead at the school and two more children died later, Lt. Vance said at a press conference Friday.
The well-liked principal, Dawn Hochsprung, was believed to be among the dead. A woman who worked at the school was wounded.
President Barack Obama will attend an interfaith memorial service Sunday in Newtown. It will be the fourth time he has traveled to a city after a mass shooting.
The president had planned to travel to Maine Wednesday for an event promoting his positions in "fiscal cliff" negotiations, but the White House canceled that trip because of the shooting.
The tragedy elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, a 20-year-old described as brilliant but remote, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims.
The rampage, coming less than two weeks before Christmas, was the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre that claimed 33 lives in 2007.
In tight-knit Newtown on Saturday, overflow crowds packed St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church. The Rev. Richard Scinto, a deacon, gave a homily.
"In the past 48 hours I've said the phrase `I don't know' about 1,000 times," he said. "That not knowing has got to be the worst part of this whole thing."
At St. John's Episcopal Church, 54-year-old Donna Denner, an art teacher at an elementary school in nearby Danbury whose classroom was locked down after the shooting, said she feels the same way she did after 9/11 but isn't sure the rest of the country is.
"I don't know if the rest of the country is struggling to understand it the same way we are here," she said. "Life goes on, but you're not the same. Is the rest of the country -- are they going about their regular activities? Is it just another news story to them?"
Lanza's brother, Ryan Lanza, 24, who was widely and erroneously reported to be the suspect, was questioned in Hoboken, N.J., but authorities said he was not involved. An FBI source tells Fox News that Ryan Lanza and the father, Peter Lanza, have both been cleared and are not longer being questioned.
The vehicle the suspect drove to the school was registered to his mother. At least three guns were found -- a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols, inside the school, and a .223-caliber rifle in the back of a car, authorities said.
Sources told Fox News the guns used in the shooting were owned by and legally registered to Nancy Lanza.
ATF spokeswoman Ginger Colbrun said earlier that there was no evidence Lanza was involved in gun clubs or had trained for the shooting. When reached later in the day and asked whether that was still true, she said, "We're following any and all leads related to this individual and firearms."
Dean Price, director of the Wooster Mountain State Range -- a shooting range in Danbury -- said two ATF agents visited the range Friday night and stayed into the early morning looking through thousands of names on sign-in logs.
He said that he had never seen Adam or Nancy Lanza there and that agents told him they did not find their names on the sign-in sheets.
Law enforcement officials have said they've found no note or manifesto from Lanza of the sort they have come to expect after murderous rampages such as the Virginia Tech bloodbath in 2007 that left 33 people dead.
Vance said during Friday afternoon's news conference that police arrived at the scene "within minutes" of a 911 call placed shortly after 9:30 a.m. Friday.
"Every door, every crack, every crevice of that school" was checked, Vance said. “The entire school was searched.” He said the shooting occurred inside two rooms in "one section of the school."
Lanza was believed to suffer from a personality disorder and lived with his mother, said a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation but was not authorized to discuss it.
Education officials said they had found no link between Lanza's mother and the school, contrary to news reports that said she was a teacher there. Investigators said they believe Adam Lanza attended Sandy Hook Elementary many years ago, but they had no explanation for why he went there Friday.
President Obama was notified of the shooting about an hour after it occurred, White House officials said.
"Our hearts are broken today," Obama said in a brief address to the nation on Friday. "We've endured too many of these tragedies in these past few years, and each time I receive the news I react not as a president, but as a parent."
"Most victims were children, between five and 10 years old...They had their entire lives ahead of them, birthdays, graduations weddings, kids of their own," he said, pausing before wiping tears from his eyes.
Sandy Hook Elementary School has close to 700 students.
Newtown is in Fairfield County, about 45 miles southwest of Hartford and 60 miles northeast of New York City.
A fund has been set up for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Click here for more information.
FoxNews.com's Cristina Corbin, Jana Winter, Perry Chiaramonte, Mike Levine and The Associated Press contributed to this report.