27 dead, including 20 children, in Connecticut school shooting
Twenty-seven people, including 20 children, were killed in a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday morning.
The suspected gunman, identified as a 20-year-old man, was confirmed dead. The Associated Press reports that his older brother is being held for questioning.
It happened at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday morning. The school has classes from kindergarten through fourth grade.
A law enforcement official says the suspect 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 man's mother, Nancy Lanza, was shot at home. It's believed Adam Lanza then went to the school where he shot and killed dozens of people.
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. Some reports indiciate that Adam Lanza may have had his brother's identification, leading to the mix-up.
NBC reports that Ryan Lanza told police his brother had mental health problems. Police say Ryan Lanza has been very cooperative and is not considered a suspect.
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. Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says someone who lived with him also died. That person is now believed to be Lanza's mother.
NBC News reports that the weapons used in the shooting were legally purchased and registered to gunman's mother, according to law enforcement officials.
The gunman opened fire Friday morning inside the school. He blasted his way through the building as young students cowered helplessly in classrooms while their teachers and classmates were shot. Reports say he fired hundreds of rounds.
Reports say that many of the victims were in a kindergarten class.
The current tally would make it the deadliest school shooting in the history of the United States. Thirteen died at the hands of two students at Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999.
At a news conference at 1:45 pm, law enforcement officials said the shooter was still deceased inside the building, and the building was secure. While officials did confirm fatalities at the scene, they did not give specific numbers. Next of kin were still being notified.
The brother of a Sandy Hook student said his sister reported hearing screams from the school's intercom system. Other students reported being told to cover their eyes as they evacuated the building.
Three victims were taken to local hospitals. A dispatcher at the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps says a teacher was shot in the foot and taken to Danbury Hospital.
Ambulances surrounded Sandy Hook Elementary School in western Connecticut and parents were running toward the building as a helicopter flew overhead.
Two handguns were recovered at the scene, according to television reports.
The school superintendent's office says the district locked down schools as a preventive measure to ensure the safety of students and staff. Several other school districts in nearby towns were also on lockdown.
Frantic parents rushed back to the school desperate for any information about their children.
"We just ran like every other parent and found we couldn't get to the school," said one parent.
"Came up from Bridgeport. It was the longest drive of my life, not knowing," said another parent.
Teachers barricaded the students in classrooms before they could be evacuated.
"We were doing morning meeting. We heard shots and everybody went on the ground. Ms. Martin closed the door and we went to the corner," said one student.
Police and SWAT teams surrounded the school and stormed outlying buildings.
"They entered school and began a complete active shooter search, which included checking every door, every crevice, every portion of that school," said Lt. Paul Vance, Connecticut State Police.
The magnitude of the loss of life involving so many children has shaken this community and the nation.
"I know there is not a parent in America that doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do. The majority who died today were children. Beautiful little kids between the ages of five and ten years old," said President Obama, wiping away tears.
Meanwhile, three other people are being hospitalized as this community tries to cope with this random act of violence.
Federal agencies are offering assistance to state and local law enforcement.
This is a developing story that will be updated.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)