A man opened fire Friday inside the Connecticut elementary school where his mother worked as a teacher, killing 26 people, including 20 children, as youngsters cowered in their classrooms and trembled helplessly to the sound of gunfire reverberating through the building.
The killer, armed with two handguns, committed suicide and another person was found dead at a second scene, bringing the toll to 28, authorities said.
“This is definitely a tragedy that no parent, school system or community wants to experience,” Catawba County Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman said. “They are lifted up in our thoughts are prayers.”
Panicked parents raced to Sandy Hook Elementary School, about 60 miles northeast of New York City, looking for their children.
“Like every parent and caregiver of children I am sick to my stomach,” Newton-Conover City Schoools Superintendent Barry Redmond said. “We are doing everything we can to make sure our children remain safe.”
The shootings took place in two rooms, but they gave no details on exactly how they unfolded.
A law enforcement official identified the gunman as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, the son of a teacher. A second law enforcement official said his mother, Nancy Lanza, was presumed dead.
“This is a needless tragedy and I can't see how someone could enter a school and harm children,” Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid said.
The gunman drove to the school in his mother's car, the second official said. Three guns were found — a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols, inside the school, and a .223-caliber rifle in the back of a car.
Lanza's girlfriend and another friend were missing in New Jersey, the official also said.
"I can't begin to understand why someone would even consider carrying out such an act of violence against innocent children," South Newton Elementary parent Julie DeCoursey. "This is devastating and almost unimaginable."
After the tragedy at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, all law enforcement agencies in North Carolina were required to take "active shooter" response training. This training allows multiple agencies responding to an incident to work together cohesively and control the situation as quickly as possible. The first arriving officers go and find the attacker to reduce the potential damage that can be inflicted.