Connecticut school shooting: Tearful Barack Obama says 'our hearts are broken'
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Obama ordered flags at federal buildings to be lowered to half-mast and he canceled an official trip to Maine scheduled for Wednesday. There was no immediate word from the White House on when the president might visit Connecticut to console grieving families.
"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, his voice cracking with emotion.
"Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children's innocence has been torn away from them too early and there are no words that will ease their pain," he said.
Obama, who has two young daughters, looked grim when he entered the briefing room, and he paused and blinked hard after mentioning the ages of the dead children - from 5 to 10 years old.
"I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do," he said.
Obama raised a finger and dabbed at the corner of his eye on several occasions. While speaking, he set his jaw several times. At the end of his statement, there was a tear visible below his left eye and that side of his face was slightly wet.
Obama has issued public statements before in the aftermath of shooting massacres.
Following the killing of six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in early August, he said such incidents should prompt soul-searching by all Americans.
But when asked then whether he would push for further gun-control measures in the wake of the shootings, Obama said only that he wanted to bring together leaders at all levels of American society to examine ways to curb gun violence.