Newtown (US), Dec 14: At least 20 children and six adults were killed in a shooting incident at an elementary school here in the Connecticut state on Friday morning. Eighteen children were killed on the spot at the Sandy Hook Elementary School while two others died in the hospital, Connecticut State Police sources said. Another death took place at a secondary scene in Newtown, taking the toll to 28. The vice-principal of the school was injured in the shooting.
Initial reports said the shooter was 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, although the police later confirmed that the killer was Adam Lanza, 20, the brother of Ryan. The former was reportedly in police custody. Reports said Adam's mother Nancy was also among the dead, although it was not confirmed by the police. The killer, wearing combat gear and armed with semiautomatic pistols and a semiautomatic rifle, carried out the massacre with precision, said a New York Times report. Adam killed himself following the shooting.
US President Barack Obama said the administration needed to take "meaningful action" regardless of politics to prevent such tragedies. He offered sympathy to the family of the victims, saying he felt the pain as he is a father himself. The shocked President, who was elected for the second time last month, said the shootings were "senseless act of violence".
"Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors, as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children's innocence has been torn away from them too early and there are no words that will ease their pain," he said.
Obama was first briefed about the tragic incident at approximately 10.30 am in the Oval Office by his Homeland Security Adviser, John Brennan. He also spoke with the FBI Director Robert Mueller and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, where the deadly shooting took place.
"As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theatre in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago, these neighbourhoods are our neighbourhoods and these children are our children," Obama said.
The US President said that the government will do everything possible to help the victim's families, although he admitted that nothing could fill the void left by a "lost child or loved one".
"But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight and they need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans, and I will do everything in my power as president to help, because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need, to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories, but also in ours," he said.
Malloy has described the shooting a "tragedy of unspeakable terms". The shooting caps a year of similar horrific tragedies in which gunmen opened fire on unsuspecting citizens in a theatre in Colorado and a gurdwara in Wisconsin.
Connecticut police lieutenant Paul Vance said the investigation is ongoing and said another person was found dead at a "secondary crime scene" near Newtown. He said the shooting was concentrated in one section of the school inside two classrooms.
Most of the kids who were massacred were between five and ten years of age. The President ordered US flags on the White House, official building and military facilities to half staff in memory of the victims.
Friday's massacre is the second-deadliest school shooting in the history of the USA. The worst has been the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, where a gunman had killed 32 people and then himself.
(With PTI inputs)