Washington/New York: US President Barack Obama wiped tears from his face, choked on his
words and spoke of his grief as authorities scrambled to find
answers to what prompted a heavily armed young man to storm a
Connecticut elementary school and gun down 28 people, including 20
children, in cold blood.
Over 100 people have died in campus shootings across the US in the
last two decades largely because of lax gun laws. The gun lobby is
a powerful one in the US and no party is ready to take them on and
repeal laws in which gun ownership is seen as a kind of
The children who were killed in Friday's mass shooting at Sandy
Hook Elementary School in Newtown, over 100 km north of New York
City, were said to be from 5 to 10 years old. Among the seven
adults killed were Dawn Hochsprung, the school's principal, and
school psychologist Mary Sherlach.
The shooter, identified by three law enforcement officials as
20-year-old Adam Lanza, also was killed, apparently by his own
hand, CNN reported.
A 28th person was found dead in a house in the town and was also
believed to have been shot by Lanza. That victim, one law
enforcement official cited by the New York Times, was Lanza's
mother, Nancy Lanza, a teacher at the school.
On Friday as a stunned America saw the unfolding tragedy in
Connecticut, a student was arrested in the US state of Oklahoma
for threatening to shoot inside a school.
Police arrested Sammy Chavez, 18, in west Bartlesville, Oklahoma,
on an arrest warrant for threats to kill, reported Xinhua citing
TV channel FOX23.
Police said officials from Bartlesville High School reported that
a student talked about "planning a shooting at the school"
According to court documents, the suspect tried to recruit other
students to assist him in a plot to lure other students into the
school auditorium, shut the doors and shoot them. Student
witnesses also reported that the teenager claimed he would place
bombs by the school doors.
With the toll at 28, the Newtown shooting is the second-deadliest
school shooting in US history, behind only the 2007 shooting at
Virginia Tech that left 32 people, including two Indians dead, and
17 others injured.
Authorities in Hoboken, New Jersey, questioned Ryan Lanza, the
suspect's older brother, CNN said citing law enforcement sources.
Lanza's father, who lives in Connecticut, was similarly
"I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same
grief that I do," Obama, the father of two daughters aged 11 and
14, said as he stood at the podium in the White House press room,
visibly struggling to keep his emotion in check.
"The overwhelming majority of those who died today were children,
beautiful little children between five and 10 years old. They had
their entire lives ahead of them. Birthdays. Graduations.
Weddings. Kids of their own," he said.
Obama paused repeatedly as he spoke and the muscles near his right
eye twitched as he worked to maintain his composure.
"Our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents,
sisters and brothers, of these little children and for the
families of the adults who were lost," Obama said.
The bodies of the young victims remained where they fell Friday
night, as authorities worked to positively identify them.
Flags were ordered to fly at half-staff nationwide in tribute to
the victims, and candlelight vigils were planned across the
country as Americans came together to try to comprehend the
"Evil visited this community today," Connecticut Governor Dan
Malloy said of Friday's massacre.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon too voiced his "deepest
condolences" over the victims of the school shooting.
In a letter to Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, Ban called the
Sandy Hook Elementary School rampage "shocking murders", spokesman
Martin Nesirky told reporters.
"The secretary-general said that the targeting of children is
heinous and unthinkable, and extended his thoughts and prayers to
the families of the victims and all others traumatized by this
horrendous crime," Xinhua quoted the spokesman as saying.
Leaders of the European Union (EU) too expressed their deep shock
on the shooting incident.
"It is with deep shock and horror that I learned this evening of
the tragic fatalities in the shooting in Connecticut. Young lives
full of hope have been destroyed," said European Commission
President Jose Manuel Barroso in a statement.