As the names of the 26 victims of one of America’s worst ever school shootings are revealed, US President Barack Obama travels to Connecticut to join the mourning.
The shooting on Friday in Newtown, Connecticut, claimed the lives of 20 children, all aged six and seven years old, as well as six adults.
Gunman Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook school and shot his victims with a rifle at close range before killing himself. He also reportedly killed his mother before making his way to the school.
I don’t know how to get through something like this. Robbie Parker, whose daughter Emilie, 6, was killed.
US President Barack Obama, who has described his “overwhelming grief” at the tragedy, arrives in the town today to join an interfaith vigil for the victims. The president is under pressure from some quarters in the United States to re-consider the country’s policies on gun ownership in the wake of the massacre, but has so far focused on joining the town and the nation in mourning for those killed.
While America has seen many mass shootings in the past decades, the victims have rarely been so young.
Lanza shot 12 girls, eight boys and six women in Friday’s attack. One of the victims, Josephine Gay, had celebrated her seventh birthday on Tuesday. Another, Olivia Engel, was due to appear in the nativity play at St Rose of Lima Catholic Church.
“She was supposed to be an angel in the play. Now she’s an angel up in heaven,” Monsignor Robert Weiss said.
Teacher Vicki Leigh Soto, 27, saved her students’ lives by putting herself between the kids and the killer.
Robbie Parker’s six-year-old daughter Emilie was among the dead.
“I don’t know how to get through something like this. My wife and I don’t understand how to process this and how to get our lives going,” he said, adding that Emilie “could just light up a room”.
While police have not formally identified Lanza or his mother, his father Peter released a statement saying he too was struggling to comprehend his son’s actions.
“No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We are in a state of disbelief,” he said.
Names of the Sandy Hook school victims
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison Wyatt, 6
Rachel Davino, 29
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27