28 Die in US School Shooting, Tearful Obama Addresses Nation
The death toll from the Friday morning killing spree at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, US, has reached 28, of them 20 children.
Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating the mass school shooting and Connecticut State police have confirmed that 28 people have died: 18 children died at the school, two children died at a local hospital, six adults died at the scene, the shooter died at the school, and the shooter's mother is dead at the home that she shared with the gunman.
Among the six adults killed were Dawn Hochsprung, the school's principal, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach.
The death toll makes Sandy Hook one of the deadliest school shootings in history and the second-deadliest school shooting in US history, behind only the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that left 32 people dead.
At one of five press conferences Friday afternoon, Connecticut state police confirmed that a male shooter is dead inside the elementary school and that they had theories but no concrete motive.
The shooter, identified by three law enforcement officials as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, also was killed, apparently by his own hand. Separately, his mother's body was found at a Newtown residence.
Lanza had no known criminal record, a law enforcement official said.
Alex Israel, a former classmate of Lanza's, described him as "quiet" and "reserved."
"You could definitely tell he was a genius," Israel told CNN, adding she hadn't talked with him since middle school. "He was really quiet, he kept to himself."
Three weapons were recovered from the school: a semi-automatic .223 Bushmaster found in a car in the school parking lot, and a Glock and a Sig Sauer found with Lanza's body. The weapons were legally purchased and registered by Lanza's mother, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation has said.
Despite earlier reports that she was a teacher, Nancy Lanza was not working at the school where the killings took place, a kindergarten teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School has said as quoted by CNN.
Meanwhile, authorities in Hoboken, New Jersey, were questioning Ryan Lanza, the suspect's older brother. Lanza's father, who lives in Connecticut, was similarly questioned.
Earlier, investigators had identified Ryan Lanza as the shooter. It was not clear what caused the confusion among investigators. Ryan is cooperating with the police and has told them he had not spoken to his brother in years.
Dressed in black fatigues, a military vest, and heavily armed, the killer walked into the Connecticut elementary school Friday morning and opened fire.
CCN quotes young students describing being ushered into bathrooms, closets, and under desks by teachers as the first shots rang out.
One parent, who was in the school at the time of the shooting, said she heard a "pop, pop, pop," sound around 9:30 a.m. In the room with her were Hochsprung, the vice principal and Sherlach. All three left the room and went into the hall to see what was happening. The parent ducked under the table and called 911.
"I cowered," she told CNN's Meredith Artley. The shooter "must have shot a hundred rounds."
Responding police officers helped evacuate the children, telling them to hold hands and keep their eyes closed to the carnage as they exited the building.
Friday afternoon, President Obama made a statement from the Briefing Room on the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Obama, a father of two girls, wiped away tears while delivering the following statement:
"We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news I react not as a President, but as anybody else would -- as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.
The majority of those who died today were children -- beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers -- men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.
So our hearts are broken today -- for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost. 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.
As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it's an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago -- these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.
This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we'll tell them that we love them, and we'll remind each other how deeply we love one another. 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."
In addition to an emotional outpouring at the horrific scene Friday's events have led to a wave of reaction about gun control and gun legislation in America.
Flags were ordered to fly at half-staff nationwide for four days of mourning in tribute to the victims, and candlelight vigils are planned across the country.
Paramount Pictures has postponed Saturday's premiere of the Tom Cruise film "Jack Reacher" in the wake of the Newtown school shootings.
The fact that so many of those killed were young children -- Sandy Hook serves students in kindergarten through fourth grade -- touched a nerve across the world.
European leaders have already expressed shock from the horrific event and have sent condolences to Obama and the American people, among them the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, the Vice-President and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, British Queen Elizabeth II, and French President, Francois Hollande.
Canadian PM, Stephen Harper, Australian PM, Julia Gillard, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have also expressed grief and have sent condolences.
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