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Home > Topics > Fire-EMS

Man kills 26 at Conn. school, including 20 kids

Parents flooded to Sandy Hook Elementary School, about 60 miles northeast of New York City, looking for their children in the wake of the shooting

By John Christoffersen
Associated Press

NEWTON, Conn. — A man opened fire inside the Connecticut elementary school where his mother worked Friday, killing 26 people, including 18 children, and forcing students to cower in classrooms and then flee with the help of teachers and police.

The death toll of 26 victims plus the gunman was given to The Associated Press by an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way.

The shooting appeared to be the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, which left 32 people and the gunman dead.

Parents flooded to Sandy Hook Elementary School, about 60 miles northeast of New York City, looking for their children in the wake of the shooting. Students were told to close their eyes by police as they were led from the building.

A photo taken by The Newtown Bee newspaper showed a group of young students some crying, others looking visibly frightened being escorted by adults through a parking lot in a line, hands on each other's shoulders.

Students and staff were among the victims, state police Lt. Paul Vance said a brief news conference. He also said the gunman was dead inside the school, but he refused to say how many people were killed.

A law enforcement official briefed on the shooting said the gunman died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and that one of the victims was the man's mother, a teacher. The official wasn't authorized to speak about the investigation.

A law enforcement official in Washington said the attacker was a 20-year-old man armed with a .223-caliber rifle. The official also said that police were searching a location in New Jersey in connection with the shootings. That official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the source was not authorized to speak on the record about the developing criminal investigation.

Robert Licata said his 6-year-old son was in class when the gunman burst in and shot the teacher.

"That's when my son grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door," he said. "He was very brave. He waited for his friends."

He said the shooter didn't say a word.

Stephen Delgiadice said his 8-year-old daughter heard two big bangs and teachers told her to get in a corner. His daughter was fine.

"It's alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America," he said.

Danbury Hospital was the only hospital to take in victims from the shootings, admitting three patients. Doctors said at a news conference they cleared four trauma rooms to treat shooting victims.

Mergim Bajraliu, 17, heard the gunshots echo from his home and raced to check on his 9-year-old sister at the school. He said his sister, who was fine, heard a scream come over the intercom at one point. He said teachers were shaking and crying as they came out of the building.

"Everyone was just traumatized," he said.

Richard Wilford's 7-year-old son, Richie, is in the second grade at the school. His son told him that he heard a noise that "sounded like what he described as cans falling."

The boy told him a teacher went out to check on the noise, came back in, locked the door and had the kids huddle up in the corner until police arrived.

"There's no words," Wilford said. "It's sheer terror, a sense of imminent danger, to get to your child and be there to protect him."

Melissa Makris, 43, said her 10-year-old son, Philip, was in the school gym.

"He said he heard a lot of loud noises and then screaming. Then the gym teachers immediately gathered the children in a corner and kept them safe in a corner," Makris said.

The fourth-grader told his mother that the students stayed huddled until police came in the gym. He also told her that he saw what looked like a body under a blanket as he fled the school.

"He said the policeman came in and helped them get out of the building and told them to run," Makris said. "And they ran to the firehouse."

Associated PressCopyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

The White House said Barack Obama was notified of the shooting and his spokesman Jay Carney said the president had "enormous sympathy for families that are affected."

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Drew Covell Drew Covell Friday, December 14, 2012 2:02:37 PM Another tragic event, where is the justice, especially for this......
John Cork John Cork Friday, December 14, 2012 8:09:17 PM This is an unimaginable tragedy. My heart goes out to everyone in the community, the victim's families and loved ones, and those first responders who had to bear witness to the events of today.
Jim Thompson Jim Thompson Saturday, December 15, 2012 4:10:21 AM so sad the families must be devastated.My heart goes out to them.
Paul Barson Paul Barson Saturday, December 15, 2012 5:39:42 AM Perhaps the US government should look at these issues in their own country and do something about it instead of offering sympathy. How many more children's lives need to be lost before they act and do something about it? Typical, all hype and nothing else, doesn't matter what party they belong too, it's all about numbers and what's the favorite term,collateral damage. Sorry to all the families that have lost ppl in this, thoughts and feelings go out to you all!
Sean Doc Strand Sean Doc Strand Saturday, December 15, 2012 10:14:48 AM Its sad that this has happened, ultimately this leads to the conclusion that you cannot control every decision an individual with a weapon makes, no matter how many laws are passed to make a stricter nation of weapons owners, human insanity and in some cases stupidity leads to the worst of it all. This incident is tragic, and it's right before Christmas...... My heart goes out to the families, as well as my prayers.
Saturday, December 15, 2012 10:17:21 AM To those of Newton CT, my heart goes out to the community. To those EMS responders, I share your feelings of living and responding in a small community. I cannot begin to know the pain you all suffer responding and performing your jobs knowing those who were involved. Our community made headlines about 2 years ago for a similar incident. The outcome was not as devastating as yours however I was there and understand the stress that was involved. Please know that fellow EMS people around the nation are thinking of you during this time. Please take care of each and every one of your co-workers.
Carlos de Gonzalez Carlos de Gonzalez Sunday, December 16, 2012 3:25:33 PM The horrendous event that transpired in Connecticut saddens me greatly. As someone who works in EMS and also teaches children, I am deeply disturbed that such atrocious acts occur. Despite what we may want to do: blame the perp./violence in the media, seek vengeance, promote conceal & carry, or desire extreme punishment for those who commit crimes; all of these things will only fuel the fire. Instead, the realization that we are ALL responsible in one way or another for what happens within our borders will lead to constructive action. Our country is ill and needs treatment. Very few countries (if any) outside of the U.S., regardless of their gun laws, have the problem of inner-institutional violence in the frequency and severity that we do. The time has come to stop being wimps, take responsibility, and awaken the power of the people to change our world. We need to fix our minds, our country and stop focusing on who-done-it or strapping on a piece.

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