A GUNMAN has killed 28 people including 20 children in one of the deadliest school shootings in US history.
All the children killed in their classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the small community of Newtown were between the ages of 5 and 10. Most of the violence took place in two rooms, with 18 children dying at the school and a further two shortly afterward in hospital.
The killer – named by law enforcement officials as Adam Lanza, 20 – is reported to be among the dead after shooting himself.
The gunman was later identified by local police as 20-year-old Adam Lanza. Police had earlier confused him with his brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, whose identity card he had been carrying with him when he went into the school. Police say he was later found dead at the scene.
His mother Nancy Lanza worked as a teacher at the school and is also presumed to be dead at the scene.
Lanza – who apparently had four weapons including a .223-caliber rifle – was allegedly masked and dressed in black combat clothes with a military bulletproof vest.
He is thought to have driven to the school in his mother’s car.
It has also been reported that his brother Ryan Lanza, 24, is being held for questioning by cops in New Jersey.
The initial 911 call said that students were trapped in a classroom with the adult shooter who had two guns, according to WABC.
Students were led single file from the schoolhouse to a nearby fire station. Parents alerted to the catastrophe by text messages and emails sent by the school district arrived hoping to find their children safe.
There are approximately 626 students enrolled in kindergarten through 4th grade classes at Sandy Hook Elementary, with another 46 faculty members, Newtown Patch reported.
The FBI presence became much more evident in the afternoon. Several federal officers in tactical gear were coordinating with state and local law enforcement. Officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrived to join the investigation.
“I was in the gym at the time,” student Brendan Murray told CNN affiliate WABC. “I heard screaming and I thought a custodian was knocking down things. Police came in, teachers yelled to get to a safe place. Police were knocking on the doors — police were at every door, leading us down, quick, quick.”
Brendan said he later joined classmates and ran to the firehouse “really quick. We were all really happy that we were all alive.”
At the firehouse, counselors such as Rabbi Shaul Praver lended a hand to help the traumatized. Some suffered from “terrible anxiety,” Praver told CNN. “It’s very hard to console parents in this situation,” he said. “There’s no theological answer to this. What you have to do is hug them and just be with them and cry with them.”
Mr Obama also indicated a renewed push for limits on firearms, a sensitive topic in the US, by promising “meaningful action” to prevent similar massacres.
“As a country we have been through this too many times,” he said. “Whether it’s 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.”
Earlier, the president ordered US flags on the White House, official buildings and at military facilities to half staff to honour the victims of the school shooting rampage, which he called a heinous crime.