20 children among 28 killed
US SCHOOL SHOOTING SPREE
New York, Dec 15: A day after a lone gunman went on a shooting spree at a Connecticut elementary school, police were today trying to find motive behind one of the deadliest massacre in US history that claimed 28 lives, including 20 children.
Dressed in black fatigues and a military vest, 20-year-old heavily armed Adam Lanza walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in Connecticut yesterday and opened indiscriminate fire.
Initially, local media reports and law enforcement agents had identified the gunman as 24-year old Ryan Lanza, who eventually turned out to be the elder brother of the attacker Adam.
Adam, after killing his mother at home, opened fire in the school and gunned down 20 children aged between 5 and 10 as well as six adults, including the institute's Principal.
Adam, who was wearing black combat gear and armed with three guns, including a high-powered rifle, later died from a self-inflicted gun shot wound, law enforcement agents said. He was found dead inside the school building.
State police Lt Paul Vance said 28 people in all were killed, including the gunman, and one person was injured.
Police have not found any motive for the attack. Adam was believed to suffer from a personality disorder and lived with his mother in Connecticut.
Adam's mother Nancy was a teacher at the school where the shooting occurred, media reports said.
FBI agents interviewed his brother Ryan in New Jersey's Hoboken area as well his father Peter Lanza, who was divorced from his mother.
Yesterday's incident came less than two weeks before Christmas and is being considered the US' second-deadliest school shooting. Earlier in 2007, a gunman had killed 32 people in a massacre in Virginia Tech.
Saddened by the incident, US President Barack Obama choked up several times as he mourned the death of the children. He said "our hearts are broken today" and sought "meaningful action" to prevent such tragedies in future.
Addressing the tragedy for the second time, Obama sympathised with the families of the dead and said that "every parent in America has a heart heavy with hurt."
Obama said he and his wife, Michelle, "are doing what I know every parent is doing - holding our children as close as we can and reminding them how much we love them."
In providing details of the shooting, Vance said law enforcement agents found "a very horrific and difficult scene" at the school, which had 700 students in kindergarten.
Vance said 18 children died in the school building while two were declared dead at a local hospital after they were rushed their for medical treatment.
Vance said his officers were working on "preparing a list of positive identifications." He did not reveal the names of the victims.
The school's principal Dawn Hochsprung and a psychologist were among those dead and teachers resorted to various ways to protect the children, asking them to take cover under their desks and locking some children in the school's gym and classroom closets.
School librarian Yvonne Cech said she had spent 45 minutes locked in a closet with two library clerks, a library catalog assistant and 18 fourth-graders.
"The SWAT team escorted us out," she was quoted as saying by the New York Times.
Panicked and weeping parents were seen rushing to the school and were gathered at a staging area near the school as the children were led out in a single file from the school.
A woman at the scene told CNN that "20 parents were told that their children are dead. It was awful."
The New York Times said Adam was remembered by his high school classmates as smart, introverted and nervous. They said he had gone out of his way not to attract attention when he was younger.
Candle-light vigils were held in Newtown and across cities in America as the nation stood in solidarity with the families of the young children.
Obama also ordered that the national flag will be flown half mast in honour of the victims.
Adam's neighbour, Beth Israel, 43, said that she and her family lived down the street from the family but had not spoken to them in three years.
"He was a socially awkward kid," she said of Adam. "He always had issues. He was kind of a loner. I don't know who his friends were. He kind of kept to himself."
Lastupdate on : Sat, 15 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 15 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 16 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST
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