27 confirmed dead in Connecticut school shooting

27 confirmed dead in Connecticut school shooting
Photo provided by NBC National News.

POSTED: Friday, December 14, 2012 - 12:30pm

UPDATED: Friday, December 14, 2012 - 4:53pm

In one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, a gunman opened fire Friday in a Connecticut elementary school, killing 26 people -- 20 of them children, police said.

The suspected gunman, who was not identified by police, also was killed, apparently by his own hand.

The mass shootings occurred in one section of Sandy Hook Elementary School and spanned two rooms, said Lt. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police.

The mother of the suspected shooter, who was a teacher at the school, appeared to be the primary target, a federal law enforcement source said. The mother was among those killed. One person was wounded.

Also among the dead were the school's principal and psychologist, according to a parent who was at the school when the incident happened.

Separately, another adult was found dead in a second location in Newtown, Vance said. A senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation told CNN the suspect's brother was found dead at a residence.

Vance described "a very tragic, tragic scene," noting the carnage first responders witnessed when they arrived.

"I have difficulty putting it into words," Vance told CNN, adding that he has "seen some horrific things and this is right up there with them."

"Why? Why?" one woman wailed as she walked up a wooded roadway leading from the school.

Police recovered three weapons from the scene: a semi-automatic .223 Bushmaster, a Glock and a Sig Sauer, a source with knowledge of the investigation said. Vance said that the medical examiner will determine the cause of death for the gunman, though he noted that police never discharged their weapons.

Police were questioning another man but are not calling him a suspect, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

President Barack Obama addressed the shooting in an emotional statement Friday afternoon, saying, "Our hearts our broken today." Obama, a father to two girls, wiped away tears as he noted the nation has "endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years."

Despite the danger being past, federal officers in tactical gear were on the scene Friday afternoon, coordinating with state and local authorities. At least four ambulances remained at the school.

Hospital officials in neighboring Danbury said they were treating three people wounded in the shooting. Mayor Mark Boughton said the victims were in "very serious" condition.

Police and teachers rushed students from the building as police swarmed the area shortly after the first calls came in, around 9:40 a.m. ET. Officials moved students to a nearby firehouse, where parents frantically sought information about their children.

Third-grader Alexis Wasik said police and teachers barged into her classroom and told students to hide in the corner.

"Everybody was crying," she said. "And I just heard the police officers yelling."

Aerial images from CNN affiliate News 12 New Jersey showed police officers armed with rifles following a dog into woods near the school.

Other officers, some in tactical gear, stood around the school with guns drawn, CNN affiliate WFSB reported.

All schools in the city were on lockdown Friday as police assessed the situation, Vance said.

Gov. Dannel Malloy is "horrified" by what happened, a spokesman said. Malloy was meeting with families Friday afternoon, the spokesman said.

Obama ordered flags to half-staff nationwide in tribute to the victims.

If the number of fatalities holds up, the Newtown shooting would be the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, behind only the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that left 32 people dead.

In 1999, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, two students shot 13 people to death before killing themselves. 

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