20 children among dead in Connecticut school shooting
A gunman killed 26 people, 20 of them children, in a shooting today at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, about 100km northeast of New York City, a law enforcement official said.
The gunman then shot and killed himself inside the school. Another shooting victim connected to the gunman was found at a second scene at Newtown, police confirmed. This brings the death toll to 28.
The gunman, who was believed to be in his 20s, walked into the classroom where his mother was a teacher. He shot and killed her and then shot students in two different classrooms. Police did not confirm the age of victims but said pupils at the school were between five and ten years old.
There were 18 children pronounced dead at the scene and two at the hospital. Police said they were not in a position to identify he shooter until they had it confirmed.
A 9-year-old boy who is a student at the school said he was in the gym when the shooting erupted. "We were in the gym, and I heard really loud bangs," said the boy, as he stood shivering and weeping outside the school with his father nearby.
"We thought that someone was knocking something over. And we heard yelling and we heard gunshots. We heard lots of gunshots. We heard someone say, 'Put your hands up.' I heard, 'Don't shoot.' We had to go into the closet in the gym. Then someone came and told us to run down the hallway. There were police at every door, there were lots of people crying and screaming."
Another student at the school told an NBC affiliate in Connecticut: "I was in the gym and I heard like seven loud booms, and the gym teachers told us to go in the corner and we huddled. We all heard these booming noises, and we started crying. So the gym teachers told us to go into the office where no one could find us. Then a police officer told us to run outside."
State police said the Newtown police called them shortly after 9.30am., according to Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police.
"On- and off-duty troopers responded to the school and with Newtown police immediately upon arrival entered the school and began an active shooter search," Lt Vance said.
A tearful US President Barack Obama expressed "overwhelming grief" for the victims and called on Americans to set aside politics and "take meaningful action" to prevent more tragedies of this kind. "As a country we have been through this too many times," he said.
"Our hearts are broken today," Mr Obama said, his voice breaking at times during a nationally televised appearance in the White House briefing room. "There is not a parent in America who does not feel the same overwhelming grief as I do".
Danbury Hospital said it was treating three patients from the shooting scene, according to its Facebook page. The hospital, which is not far from the elementary school, said it was on lockdown.