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Residents of the small Connecticut community of Newtown were reeling on Saturday from one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history, as police sought answers about what drove a 20-year-old gunman to slaughter 20 children at an elementary school.
The attacker, identified by law enforcement sources as Adam Lanza, who once attended Newtown High School, opened fire on Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which serves children aged 5 to 10. He ultimately killed at least 27 people, including himself.
Police said another adult was found dead at a related crime scene in the town, which many media accounts indicated may have been the shooter's mother, Nancy Lanza.
State police said they hoped to have more information by Saturday morning, including confirmation of the victims' identities. More than 12 hours after the shootings, police began removing the bodies from the school and bringing in parents to make identifications, NBC News reported.
Symbolising the national grief over the massacre of the schoolchildren, President Barack Obama choked up and wiped away tears in a live national address in which he said, "Our hearts are broken."
He called for "meaningful action" to curb gun violence. The holiday season tragedy was the second shooting rampage in the United States this week and the latest in a series of mass killings this year, and is certain to revive a debate about U.S. gun laws.
Newtown, an affluent town about 80 miles (129 km) northeast of New York City, was mourning its dead in community vigils. "We're just praying - just need to pray to God that this does not happen again, no matter where," Amelia Adams, 76, said on her way into St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church with her husband Kenneth, 81.
The church, just a couple of miles from the site of the shooting, was packed inside and out on Friday night with a crowd estimated at more than 1,000 people. "It was just, it was brutal. I can't think of a better word. It was just brutal, to have to witness the pain today," Monsignor Robert Weiss said after the service.
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