U.S. President Barack Obama travels on Sunday to Newtown, Connecticut, in an effort to comfort a shattered town reeling from a school shooting that left 20 young children and six adults dead.
A White House statement released Saturday said Mr. Obama will meet with the families of those who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and also thank first responders. The statement said the president will speak at an interfaith vigil for families of the victims and families from the school.
The White House announcement came just hours after Connecticut state police released the names of the dead and pleaded with journalists to respect the privacy of the grieving families. The list included the names of 12 girls and eight boys — all of them ages 6 or 7 and in the first grade. The six adults were all female.
Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver said he and his staff worked through the night to complete the forensic work. He said all of the victims were killed by multiple gunshots from what he called “the long weapon,” which was identified in earlier reports as a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle.
Earlier reports placed two semi-automatic handguns near the shooter's body with the assault rifle in his car. Officials say the gunman died at the scene of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Carver also said the medical examinations of the shooter, identified in multiple reports as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, and his mother — killed earlier by her son at a separate location — will take place Sunday.
Earlier Saturday, police said the shooter was not voluntarily let into the school on Friday, as earlier reported. He did not elaborate on how the gunman gained entry, saying the investigation is ongoing.
U.S. authorities have yet to identify a motive for the shooting, which took place more than 120 kilometers northeast of New York City.
A VOA reporter at the scene said news outlets from Japan, China, Sweden and other countries have sent reporters to cover the event. The killings — the second worst such slaughter in U.S. history — was Saturday's headline story in newspapers across Europe and much of Asia.
In his weekly radio address, President Obama said every parent in America has “a heart heavy with hurt.” He called for “meaningful action” to prevent more tragedies. The usual Republican Party address was not delivered Saturday. Republican leaders said this was a time for the president to speak for the nation.