A gunman killed 26 people, 20 of them children between the ages of 5 and 10, in a shooting on Friday morning at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., about 65 miles northeast of New York City, the authorities said.
The gunman, who was believed to be in his 20s, walked into a classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where his mother was a teacher. He shot and killed her and then killed 20 students, most in the same classroom. He also shot five other adults, and then killed himself inside the school. One person was also injured in the shooting.
Another body related to the shooting was at another scene, the authorities said, declining to provide more specifics.
A law enforcement official identified the shooter as Adam Lanza and said that a brother, Ryan Lanza, had been questioned.
The mass shooting is among the worst in the nationâ€™s history.
â€œThe majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old,â€ a visibly distraught President Obama said during a nationally televised address Friday afternoon.
After pausing to compose himself for perhaps five long seconds, Mr. Obama said, â€œThey had their entire lives ahead of them: birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.â€
Then the president wiped the corner of his eye.
Some witnesses described a harrowing scene inside the school with the sounds of gunfire followed by sounds of screams as terrified students and staff members hid in classrooms, closets or wherever they could quickly take shelter.
One 9-year-old student said he was in the gym when the shooting erupted.
â€œWe were in the gym, and I heard really loud bangs,â€ said the boy, as he stood shivering and weeping outside the school with his fatherâ€™s arms draped around him. â€œWe thought that someone was knocking something over. And we heard yelling, and we heard gunshots. We heard lots of gunshots. We heard someone say, â€˜Put your hands up.â€™ I heard, â€˜Donâ€™t shoot.â€™ 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.â€
Another student at the school told an NBC affiliate in Connecticut: â€œI 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.â€
State police said the Newtown police called them shortly after 9:30 a.m., according to Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police. â€œOn- and off-duty troopers responded to the school, and with Newtown police immediately upon arrival entered the school and began an active shooter search,â€ Lieutenant Vance said.
Eighteen of the students were pronounced dead at the school, and two others were taken to hospitals where they were declared dead. All the adults shot at the school were pronounced dead at the scene.
Law enforcement officials said the weapons used by the gunman were a Sig Sauer and a Glock. In addition to the two handguns, the police also found an M4 carbine at the scene that they believe belonged to the gunman.
Meredith Artley, the managing editor of CNN.com, said that someone who works at the school told her the shooting happened in the hallway. â€œShe described it as a â€˜Pop, pop, pop,’â€ Ms. Artley said. â€œShe said three people went out into the hall and only one person came back, the vice principal, she said, who was shot in the leg or the foot, who came crawling back. She cowered under the table and called 911. There must have been a hundred rounds.â€
As news of the shooting spread, frantic family members descended on the scene and were taken to a nearby fire house where teachers and students who had been evacuated from the school had been taken by the authorities. Some clergy members were also at the fire house.
â€œThe teachers wrote down the names of all the children,’â€™ said Monsignor. Robert Weiss, the pastor at St Rose of Lima in Newtown. â€œThe ones who were unaccounted for, those parents went to another room and wrote their names on a list.â€
â€œIt was around, obviously,’â€™ he added, â€œthe number that passed away.â€
Another clergy member at the fire house, Rabbi Sholom Deitsch of Chabbad Jewish Center in Ridgefield, Conn, said, â€œI see a lot of fear and disbelief in peoples eyes. Itâ€™s a very difficult scene, one Iâ€™ve never seen in my life.’â€™
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who was at the scene of the shooting comforting relatives of victims, called the killings a â€œtragedy of unspeakable terms.’â€™
The school, located among wooded hills and suburban tracts in Fairfield County, 12 miles east of Danbury, serves kindergarten through fourth grade. The school has about 700 students.
â€œItâ€™s just a little country school,’â€™ said Robert Place, 65, as he stood near the scene. â€œThe look is very â€²50s or â€²60s. One floor. Itâ€™s always had a good reputation. People come to Newtown for the schools.’â€™
The schoolâ€™s principal, Dawn Hochsprung, was reportedly one of those shot. But at the home of her daughter Cristina Hassinger, in Oakville, Conn., the family was still awaiting any news of her fate.
â€œWeâ€™re looking for any hope,â€ said Ryan Hassinger, the son-in-law of the principal.
â€œI looked on Twitter and it says that she is passed,â€ Mr. Hassinger said. But, he added, the family was â€œjust waiting.â€
Mr. Obama was briefed on the shooting at 10:30 a.m., the White House said.
â€œWeâ€™ve endured too many of these tragedies in these past few years and each time I learn the news I react not as a president but as anyone else would as a parent and that was especially true today,â€ Mr. Obama said on Friday afternoon. â€œI know thereâ€™s not a parent in America who doesnâ€™t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.â€
Maureen Kerins, a hospital nurse who lives close to the school, learned of the shooting from the television and hurried to the school to see if she could help. â€œI stood outside waiting to go in, but a police officer came out and said they didn’t need any nurses so I knew it wasnâ€™t good,’â€™ Ms. Kerins said.
In front of a senior center next door to the school, a 20-year-old woman was with her 4-year-old sister, who was in the school at the time of the shooting. The older woman came to pick up her younger sister along with their mother. The girl had her arms and legs wrapped around her older sister.
When a reporter asked the woman what the little girl knew of what had happened, the woman said, â€œAbsolutely nothing, and we donâ€™t plan to tell her anything.â€