A gunman, dressed in black and carrying two guns, rampaged through a Connecticut elementary school Friday. Throughout the course of the massacre, the gunman wound up killing 18 small children and seven adults. Two more children were later pronounced dead after the shooting.
Law enforcement officials said that this was the second-worst school shooting in the nations history.
The gunman has been identified as Adam Lanza, 24, of Hoboken, New Jersey.
According to federal law enforcement officials, Lanza was also found dead inside the elementary school.
According to NBC New York, Lanza’s mother was a kindergarten teacher at the elementary school, and it’s her classroom where most of the casualties were found.
The elementary school shooting sparked a massive police response that included SWAT officers going room to room to search for victims as they huddled in classroom corners.
Some survivors, under the age of 10 years of age, described the terror of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Robert Licata said his 6-year-old son was in class when the gunman burst in and shot the teacher.
Licata told the Associated Press:
“That’s when my son grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door. He was very brave.”
One student told NBC Connecticut that she was in the gym when she heard “seven loud booms.”
“The gym teachers told us to go in the corner, so we all huddled. And I kept hearing these booming noises. And we all … started crying.
“All the gym teachers told us to go into the office where no one could find us. So then a police officer came in and told us to run outside. So we did and we came in the firehouse.”
Authorities in the community 60 miles from New York City were alerted to the tragic incident by a 911 call around 9:30 a.m.
They then reached out to state police and neighboring police departments for help.
Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance said troopers who responded fanned out across the school and searched “every door, every crack, every crevice” of the building.
Children said they were told to close their eyes as they were led outside, apparently to avoid seeing anything gruesome.
Over the next two hours, the children were reunited with their families who rushed to the school.
Brenda Lebinski, mother of a third-grader, said she found a “horrendous” scene. She told Reuters:
“Everyone was in hysterics – parents, students. There were kids coming out of the school bloodied. I don’t know if they were shot, but they were bloodied.”
One parent picking up his 7-year-old son said the shooting was “the most terrifying moment a parent can imagine” and could barely describe the anguish of having to wait to find out if his son was a victim. His son was unharmed.
The father said:
“It was the greatest relief in my existence. I’m just happy that my kid’s OK.”
Bracing for a large influx of wounded, Danbury Hospital went on lockdown and cleared four trauma rooms.
Adam Lanza’s motive for the shooting is still unknown.
An official told NBC New York that two 9mm handguns were recovered from the scene. The Associated Press said that one of the guns was a.223-caliber rifle.
The FBI was on the scene, assisting with the investigation.
President Obama was told of the shooting at 10:30 a.m.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said:
“I can just tell you that as a father, incidents like these weigh heavily on him, and I think everyone who has children and can imagine the enormous suffering that accompanies an event like this.”
The Connecticut elementary school massacre’s death toll is the highest from a school shooting in U.S. history since a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007.