The nation is watching in horror today as the scope of a tragedy in Newtown, Conn., becomes clear.
There’s been a shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook elementary school and it’s being reported that many children were killed. It may have been the worst such attack at an elementary or high school in the nation’s history, horribly surpassing the 13 people killed by two students at Colorado’s Columbine High School in 1999.
The incident began around 9:30 a.m. ET. As of 1:45 p.m. ET, the information being reported by local and national media was widely varied — from a few deaths to more than 20. Sandy Hook is a K-4 school. According to state records, there are about 670 students enrolled there.
Update 9:19 p.m. More guns found inside school: WASHINGTON (AP) A law enforcement official says authorities investigating the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school found more guns inside the school than the initial two that had been reported.
The official would not say what type of guns were found but says all the weapons were being traced by state and federal authorities. The official was not authorized to speak to reporters about the investigation and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Authorities say a 20-year-old man opened fire Friday inside the school in Newtown, massacring 26 people, including 20 children, then killed himself. He was carrying at least two handguns.
Other law enforcement officials also speaking on condition of anonymity have said the gunman apparently left a high-powered rifle in the back of a car he drove to school.
Update 5:12 p.m. White House: Today is not day to talk gun control (AP): WASHINGTON (AP) A White House spokesman says this isn’t the day for a discussion about gun control.
Jay Carney was responding to reporters’ questions on that issue, and President Barack Obama’s campaign promises on gun control, in the aftermath of today’s deadly shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
The president himself signaled a desire for action, but he wasn’t specific. Obama said, “As a country, we have been through this too many times.” He said, “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
During his time in office, mass shootings have shaken communities in Wisconsin, Texas and Colorado.
Although the White House isn’t getting into the issue of gun control today, others are. Democratic congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York said in a statement, “If now is not the time to have a serious discussion about gun control and the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our society, I don’t know when is.”
Update 5:03 p.m. Scene from the school (AP): NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) – Schoolchildren and their parents are describing the scene at a Connecticut elementary school today, as teachers locked doors and ordered the children to huddle in the corner or hide in closets.
Shots rang through the building, as a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children.
One man says his 6-year-old son was in class when the gunman burst in and shot the teacher. He says his son “grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door.”
The father of one 7-year-old says the boy heard a noise that sounded like “cans falling.” A teacher went out to check on the noise, came back in, locked the door, and had the kids huddle in the corner until police arrived.
A teenager who rushed to the school to check on his sister, after hearing the gunfire from his nearby home, says the 9-year-old girl had heard a scream come over the intercom at one point.
As they left the school, the children — some crying, others looking frightened — were told by police to close their eyes, so they wouldn’t see the carnage around them.
Update 4:44 p.m. Text of Obama address:
Text of President Barack Obama’s address to the nation after Friday’s mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, as provided by CQ Transcriptions:
“This afternoon, I spoke with Governor Malloy and FBI Director Mueller. I offered Gov. Malloy my condolences on behalf of the nation and made it clear he will have every single resource that he needs to investigate this heinous crime, care for the victims, counsel their families.”
“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 is 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, because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need, to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories, but also in ours.”
“May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.”
Update 4:16 p.m. AP confirms new shooter identity: WASHINGTON (AP) A law enforcement official says the suspect in the Connecticut school shootings is 20-year-old Adam Lanza, the son of a teacher at the school where the shootings occurred. A second law enforcement official says the boy’s mother, Nancy Lanza, is presumed dead.
The first official says Adam Lanza’s older brother, 24-year-old Ryan, of Hoboken, N.J., is being questioned by police. An earlier report from a law enforcement official mistakenly transposed the brothers’ first names.
Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the developing criminal investigation.
The first official said Adam Lanza is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Update 4:09 p.m. Shooter misidentified?: Some media outlets are reporting, including the New York Post, that the shooter is Adam Lanza, not Ryan. The Post is reporting that Ryan, who is the brother of Adam, is being questioned by police. NBC is reporting that the shooter was carrying Ryan’s identification.
Update 3:46 p.m. Conn. Police confirm 20 children, 6 adults slain
Update 3:37 p.m. Conn. Governor Speaks:
Update 3:28 p.m. Obama calls for ‘meaningful action’ after shooting (AP): A tearful President Barack Obama says the country’s leaders must “take meaningful action” regardless of politics in response to the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
The president teared up, at times using an index finger to wipe at the corner of his eyes, as he addressed the nation from the White House. He also paused repeatedly as he struggled to keep his composure while speaking of the children ages 5 to 10 who had died and the life milestones they now would miss.
He said, quote, “Our hearts are broken.”
Shortly before speaking, Obama ordered that U.S. flags be flown at half-staff on public grounds through Tuesday.
Update 3:25 p.m. Officials identify suspect, say his mother was among shooting victims (AP): NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) More information is emerging about the suspect in today’s Connecticut elementary school shootings. A law enforcement official identifies him as 24-year-old Ryan Lanza.
Another official who was briefed on the shooting says the gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound — and that one of the victims was the shooter’s mother, a teacher at the school.
According to one official, the suspect’s younger brother is being held for questioning as a possible second shooter.
The official also says Ryan Lanza’s girlfriend and another friend are missing in New Jersey.
Although authorities haven’t released the number of dead and injured, an official says 26 people were killed, including 18 children, in addition to the gunman. That would make the shooting the nation’s second-deadliest at a school — exceeded only by the Virginia tech massacre in 2007.
Students are telling parents about their ordeal this morning. One 6-year-old has told his father that he was in a classroom when a gunman burst in and shot the teacher. The boy said he grabbed some of his friends and ran from the room.
Update 3:17 p.m. Obama orders flags at half-staff in respect to the victims of the shooting (AP).
Update 3:11 p.m. Obama’s address: You can view Obama’s address here:
Update 3:05 p.m. AP confirms age, shooter’s brother held: The Associated Press is reporting that the shooter, previously identified at Ryan Lanza, is 24 years old. AP is also reporting the shooter’s younger brother is being held.
Update 2:55 p.m. Shooter Identified: NPR has confirmed the identity of the shooter as Ryan Lanza, a young man in his 20s. Police also told NPR that the shooter is dead, and the shooter used a .223 caliber rifle.
— Marlow Stern (@MarlowNYC) December 14, 2012
Update 2:46 p.m. Obama address: President Obama will address the nation at 3:15 p.m., ABC News reports.
Update 2:32 p.m. Shooter connection?:
Some media are reporting that the shooter is a male in his early 20s. NPR and AP have not confirmed those details. CBS News, also unconfirmed by NPR and AP, has reported that the shooter’s mother was a teacher at the school.
Update 2:29 p.m. Va. governor offers condolences (AP):
Saying his state still has painful memories from the mass April 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, extended his sympathies to Connecticut following an elementary school massacre.
McDonnell said his thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by Friday’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
An official tells The Associated Press that 27 people are dead, including 18 children. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way.
Update 2:19 p.m. News conference:
PBS NewsHour has posted video from the news conference earlier today.
Update at 1:45 p.m. ET. “Several Fatalities”:
“There were several fatalities at the scene, both students and staff,” Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance just told reporters. He said he would not give specifics, pending notification of the victims’ families.
According to Vance, 911 calls started coming into Newtown police around 9:30 a.m. The local police contacted state authorities, who responded to the scene. Officers “immediately entered the school,” Vance said, and started both searching for the shooter and evacuating the students and staff.
The gunman, Vance said, was found “deceased inside the building.”