US President Obama has called for 'meaningful action' to prevent future mass shootings after a gunman killed 27 people in the small town of Newtown. This was just the latest in a series of such incidents to hit the US.
A few hours after news of the shooting spree first broke, the US president took to the airwaves to address the nation in a televised press conference.
"There is not a parent in America who does not feel the same overwhelming grief I do," President Obama said, pausing at times to gather his emotions and wipe his eyes.
The president also referred to a series of shootings in the United States, the most recent of which occurred earlier this week in the western state of Oregon.
"As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it's an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago - these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children," Obama said. "And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
Following the shooting, condolences from America's allies began pouring in.
"The news from Newtown makes me deeply sad," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "We are confronted once again with a crime that we cannot make sense of."
"My deep sympathy goes out to the relatives," she added. "I wish them strength and care. I hope they do not remain alone in their pain."
"I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear about today's horrific shooting," British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement. "My thoughts are with the injured and those who have lost loved ones. It is heartbreaking to think of those who have had their children robbed from them at such a young age, when they had so much life ahead of them."
French President Francois Hollande said the news "horrified me and I wish to express my deep shock and consternation."
Although he has yet to be officially identified by police, it is being widely reported that the gunman was 20-year-old Adam Lanza. The gunman was found dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was not yet clear if he shot himself or was shot by police.
Second crime scene
The exact details of the shooting were still being pieced together by law enforcement officials, late on Friday, but the gunman appears to have entered the school and opened fire, killing 18 students between the age of five and 10. Six adults, not including the shooter, were also found dead. Two more young students later died at the hospital.
Police are investigating a second crime scene away from the school where another adult was found dead. That victim may be the shooter's mother, who was reportedly shot at the home the two shared before the gunman took her car and drove to the school.
Friday's incident in Connecticut is one of the worst in US history, after a 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech University, in which a student shot dead 32 people on campus before turning his gun on himself.
mz, pfd/sej (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)