28 lives lost in latest US shootings
A gunman shot dead 20 school children between the ages of five and 10 and six adults in the second deadliest school shooting in US history yesterday.
The massacre of innocents occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a remote, halcyon, wooded bourg of fewer than 2,000 people, 65 miles northeast of New York city.
The gunman – who according to a media report carried four weapons and wore a bulletproof vest – was dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, state police Lieut Paul Vance told a news conference.
Lieut Vance said authorities found 18 children and seven adults, including the gunman, dead at the school, and two children were pronounced dead later after being take to a hospital. Another adult was found dead at a related crime scene in Newtown, he said, bringing the toll to 28.
Neighbours of the gunman, whose surname was Lanza, described him as “troubled”. The body of his mother, Nancy Lanza, was found at the family home in Newtown. She was a teacher at Sandy Hook, but contrary to early reports was not in the school when her son attacked.The gunman was found dead inside the school. Police said they did not discharge their weapons, and he is believed to have taken his own life. The gunman’s brother was questioned in Hoboken, New Jersey.
The gunman wore black battle fatigues and a military vest when he entered the school at about 9.30am, half-an-hour after classes started. Of three staff members who ran out of a meeting to run towards the gunfire, two were killed. A third, the vice-principal, crawled back into the meeting room, wounded in the leg. Eighteen of the dead children died in two classrooms in one section of the school. Two children died in a nearby hospital. At one point yesterday afternoon, police told anguished parents that if they had not been reunited with their children, they would not see them alive again. Eight hours after the massacre, the 18 small bodies remained in the classrooms where they fell, awaiting identification.
The school’s principal, Dawn Hochsprung, was among the dead. She had just installed a new security system that locked school doors once classes started. It was not known how the gunman overcame the door-locking system.
Police recovered three weapons at the scene: a military-style semi-automatic .223 Bushmaster, a Glock and a Sig Sauer. Connecticut governor Daniel Malloy called the massacre “a tragedy of unspeakable terms”.
Teachers attempted to protect students by telling them to hide in closets or rushing them out of the school. Those who escaped were taken to a nearby firehouse. Eyewitnesses described parents and students crying and screaming hysterically as bloodied survivors came out of the school. “Why? Why?” one woman wailed.
“Our hearts are broken today,” President Barack Obama said, shedding tears as he read a statement in the White House. “We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years.”
Mr Obama, the father of two young daughters, paused to regain his composure when he said “The majority of those who died today were children – beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old.”
Despite repeated mass shootings, Mr Obama has so far refrained from demanding more strict regulation of firearms. In the wake of yesterday’s horror, he implied that might change. “As a country, we have been through this too many times,” he said. “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”