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.
White House officials say Mr. Obama will meet with the families of those who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and also thank first responders. The president plans to speak Sunday night at a vigil for families of the victims.
Connecticut state police say the list of those killed includes 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's chief medical examiner said all of the victims were killed at close range by multiple gunshots from a rifle, identified earlier as a Bushmaster assault rifle. Earlier reports also placed two semi-automatic handguns near the shooter's body. Officials say the gunman died at the scene of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Medical examinations of the shooter – widely identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza – are expected to take place Sunday, along with an examination of his mother reported to have been killed by her son at their home.
U.S. authorities have yet to identify a motive for the shooting, which took place about 120 kilometers northeast of New York. Unidentified officials say there is some evidence that could lead to understanding a motive. Lanza is reported to have been quiet and socially awkward, but also very bright.
Police say the shooter was not voluntarily let into the school on Friday, as earlier reported. Police did not elaborate on how the gunman gained entry, saying the investigation is ongoing.
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.