US police announced that 27 people, including 20 children, were killed by a heavily armed man who opened fire on students and officials at an elementary school in Connecticut. President ordered flags at half-mast on national buildings to mourn the victims.
A heavily armed man opened fire on students and officials at an elementary school in the US state of Connecticut , killing at least 26 people, including 20 children.
State Police Lt. Paul Vance told a news conference that the gunman was found dead inside the Sandy Hook School building in Newtown, Connecticut.
Vance declined to say the number of victims, but CBS News said 20 children and nine adults were killed, without specifying whether the gunman was among the dead. The Hartford Courant newspaper said that not a whole class knows his fate.
If confirmed, this number would be one of the worst incidents of mass indiscriminate shooting in the history of the United States, which witnessed a series of such incidents this year that killed many people. The incident is sure to spark renewed debate over gun laws in the United States.
CNN reported that the school principal and a psychologist were among the dead.
WWBC said the alleged attacker was 24 years old, who had four weapons and wore a bulletproof vest.
CBS said that police were holding another person who was arrested in a forest near the school and who was wearing camouflaged pants.
The New York Times reported that the alleged gunman also killed his mother, who was a teacher at the school, before shooting students in her classroom and other adults.
She said he also killed seven other adults before killing himself.
Sandy Hook Elementary School includes children from kindergarten to fourth grade, with pupils being roughly five to ten years old.
“It was terrible,” said Brenda Lipinski, who rushed to the school where her daughter is in third grade.
“Everyone was hysterical, parents and students,” she added. “There were children leaving school while they were so bloody. I don’t know if they were shot, but they were bloodied.”
Television pictures showed police forces and ambulances at the scene and parents rushing to the school. Seen parents traveling with their children and return them to the house.
“It would be bad,” a state official told Reuters, requesting anonymity because the scale of the tragedy has not yet been determined.
A White House spokesman said that the US President was informed of the incident and kept up to date on developments in the situation.
When asked about the president’s reaction to the incident, he said, “We are still waiting for more information about the incident in Connecticut.”
He described the incident as “tragic” and added that Obama remains committed to trying to renew the ban on offensive weapons.
The Newtown School District said all district schools have been secured.
Lipinski said that a mother who was in school during the shooting told her that a “masked man” had entered the principal’s office and may have been shot. Lipinski, a friend of the mother who was in school, added that the principal “was seriously injured.”
A spokeswoman for Danbury Hospital, about 18 km west of the school, told NBC Connecticut that the hospital had received three injured people from the scene.
“These are very serious injuries,” Danbury mayor Mark Botton told MSNBC.
A girl in an interview with NBC Connecticut said she heard seven loud noises when she was in a gym class. She added that other children started crying as teachers moved the pupils to a nearby office.
“A police officer came and asked us to run outside and we responded to him,” said the girl, whose name was not revealed on camera.