America is in mourning for the deaths of 20 young children and six staff killed in a shooting at a US elementary school, one of the worst gun massacres in the country’s history.
Officials said 18 pupils, aged from five to 10, and the staff were dead at the scene at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, while two youngsters were pronounced dead at hospital.
The gunman – named by sources as 20-year-old Adam Lanza – also died, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was reported to have three guns, two pistols found inside the school and a .223-calibre rifle recovered from a car.
Lanza’s mother Nancy worked at the school as a teacher and is believed to be among those killed.
Police in New Jersey were last night searching a location in connection with the shooting amid reports a body, thought to be that of Lanza’s father, had been found.
The shooter’s brother Ryan,24, was being held for questioning as a possible second gunman.
Struggling against tears, President Barack Obama said he shared the overwhelming grief of every parent in America in thinking of those young children who would never live to fulfil their potential.
The president promised “meaningful action” to prevent another tragedy, adding: “These neighbourhoods are our neighbourhoods, these children are our children.”
Anguished parents had come running when they heard the news of the atrocity.
Stephen Delgiadice said his daughter heard two bangs, and teachers told her to get in a corner. The eight-year-old was unhurt.
“It’s alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America,” he said.