NEWTOWN, Conn., (UPI) — A New Jersey man went to his mother’s kindergarten classroom in Newtown, Conn., Friday and opened fire, killing his mother and two dozen others, police said.
Ryan Lanza, 24, of Hoboken, clad in a bulletproof vest and carrying as many as four weapons, was found dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Preliminary reports indicated 26 or 27 people, including 18 children, were killed at the school in the small, scenic town about 60 miles northeast of New York City.
“I saw some of the bullets going past the hall … then the teacher pulled me into her classroom. … It sounded like someone was kicking the door,” one child told reporters.
“I saw policemen — lots of policemen in the hallway with guns,” 9-year-old fourth grader Vanessa Bajraliu told the Hartford (Conn.) Courant. “The police took us out of the school. We were told to hold each others’ hands and to close our eyes. We opened our eyes when we were outside.”
State Police Lt. Paul Vance refused to confirm the number of dead at a news conference shortly before 2 p.m. EST. He said police were summoned to the school shortly after 9:30 a.m. and began an “active shooter search” of the building. He said the gunman was found dead inside the building and the scene is secure.
WNBC-TV, New York, reported Lanza went to the school after first killing his father in Hoboken. Vance said search warrants had been executed for the shooter’s home.
Roy Occhiogiosso, a spokesman for Gov. Dan Malloy, said the governor met with parents at a nearby firehouse. He said Malloy also had spoken with President Obama, who pledged whatever assistance is needed.
At least one gunman was involved, but a second man was in police custody, witnesses said.
“We ran down to the firehouse and there was a man pinned down with handcuffs on,” a young boy told CNN.
Three wounded victims were treated at Danbury Hospital, the Courant said. Two adults were found hiding in a closet in the school, CNN said.
CBS reported the preliminary investigation indicated 26 people were killed. ABC put the number of dead at 27.
Officers and teachers led children, many of them crying, single file to a staging area at a nearby firehouse where parents picked them up, the Courant reported.
“Who would do this? What kind of person would do this?” screamed a young man whose sister attended the school.
Another young man said his sister heard several loud booms, MSNBC reported.
The Newtown Bee reported numerous ambulance crews were on the scene but a triage nurse told CNN they were sent away.
“We were told there was nothing for them to do,” she said.