Massacre of the innocents

One of the worst school shootings in US history has left 20 children and eight adults dead. The children were all aged between five and 10.

Adam Lanza, aged 20, the son of a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, drove to the building in his mother’s car.

He brought three guns, walked into the school, and began firing into classrooms. His mother, Nancy, is believed to have been one of his victims.

He later turned the gun on himself.

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.

Police said another person was found dead at a second scene, leading to a total death toll of 28. Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy said somebody who lived with the gunman died.

Robert Licata said that his 6-year-old son was in class when the gunman burst in and shot the teacher.

“That’s when my son grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door,” he said. “He was very brave. He waited for his friends.” He said the shooter didn’t utter a word.

Stephen Delgiadice said his 8-year-old daughter was in the school and heard two big bangs. “It’s alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America,” he said.

Mergim Bajraliu, 17, heard the gunshots echo from his home and ran to check on his sister at the school. He said his sister, 9, who was fine, heard a scream over the intercom at one point. He said teachers were shaking and crying as they came out of the building. “Everyone was just traumatised,” he said.

Richard Wilford’s 7-year-old son, Richie, told him he heard a noise that “sounded like what he described as cans falling”.

The boy told him a teacher went out to check on the noise, came back in, locked the door, and had the children huddle in the corner until police arrived.

“There’s no words,” said Wilford. “It’s sheer terror, a sense of imminent danger, to get to your child, and be there to protect him.”

At the White House, US President Barack Obama said he grieved about the massacre as a father first, declaring, “our hearts are broken today”. He promised action to prevent such tragedies again but did not elaborate.

The massacre reignited the debate about the need for tighter gun control, but Obama’s spokesman said it was too soon to discuss such measures.

In the aftermath of the shooting came a bevy of confusion as police and parents struggled to ascertain what exactly happened.

Initial reports said two gunmen were responsible, but it is unclear if this was the case. It was also reported that Adam Lanza had been arrested. However, it is thought police mistakenly circulated his name, having instead arrested his brother, Ryan.

Police said last night they had not yet formally identified Adam Lanza’s body, but confirmed it was at the scene of the school.

Police lieutenant Paul Vance said: “It is not a simplistic scene — we need to establish identity, we need to document the entire scene, and we need to answer every single question surrounding exactly how and why thisincident occurred.”

The question of how will be one police could answer in a short space of time. For the families left reeling by Adam Lanza’s actions, the question of why may never be answered.

Chilling past

* The Newtown massacre is the latest in a long line of school shootings in the US.

On Apr 16, 2007, Seung- Hui Cho, 23, shot 32 people and himself on the Virginia Tech campus in Virginia.

The best known killings were those of Apr 20, 1999, when Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire at Columbine High School in Colorado, killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves.


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