Hundreds at vigil after gun rampage

Hundreds of people have attended a church vigil in Connecticut to remember the victims of the school shooting that left 27 people dead.

With the St Rose of Lima church in Newtown filled to capacity, hundreds of people stood outside, some holding hands in circles and saying prayers, while others lit candles and sang Silent Night.

State governor Dannel P Malloy was among the speakers at the service.

Anthony Bloss, whose three daughters survived the massacre, said they heard gunshots but they are not talking much about the shooting. He says he feels completely numb.

Tracy Hoekenga said she wanted to come to the vigil because she was struggling with many emotions. Her two boys survived the shooting.

Police said the suspect in the shootings, Adam Lanza, killed his mother at their home before driving her car to the school where he went on the rampage.

Lanza’s mother Nancy was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the 20-year-old killed another 25 people, including 20 children, before shooting himself dead.

One of the worst shootings in US history, just two weeks before Christmas, was the latest of several mass shootings in the US this year, and it approached the deadly scale of the Virginia Tech university massacre in 2007 that left 32 dead.

This time, many victims were young children. Photos from the scene showed students, some of them crying, being escorted by adults through a car park in a line, hands on each other’s shoulders. Children told their parents they had heard bangs and, at one point, a scream over the intercom.

State police said 18 children were found dead at the school and two died later in hospital. Six adults were found dead at the scene. They said the shootings occurred in one section of the school but did not give details.

In New Jersey, Lanza’s older brother Ryan, 24, of Hoboken, was being questioned by police. He was extremely co-operative during questioning, police said, and he is not believed to have had any involvement and is not under arrest or in custody. Investigators were searching his computers and phone records.

He told investigators his brother was believed to suffer from a personality disorder and be “somewhat autistic” and lived with the mother in Connecticut, sources said.

Three guns were found at the scene of the massacre – a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols, and a .223-calibre rifle. The rifle was recovered from the back of a car at the school. The two pistols were recovered from inside the school.

President Barack Obama addressed the nation after the killings, saying: “Our hearts are broken today.”

He said the nation had been “through this too many times” with recent mass shootings and has to come together to take meaningful action, “regardless of the politics”.

He did not give details, even as the debate over the issue of gun control in America exploded once again.

Investigators suggested the guns used in the shooting might have belonged to Lanza’s mother.

Some weapons owned by Mrs Lanza match the models used in the massacre, although detectives stressed they have not been conclusively linked.

The official said state police records show she legally purchased five firearms and all were registered in Connecticut. Authorities are still trying to account for all the guns.

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