Quiet Connecticut town rocked by mass school shooting
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The peace and security of the suburban Connecticut community of Newtown lay shattered on Friday after a gunman attacked a primary school in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
Tearful parents and children gathered around Sandy Hook Elementary School by midday on Friday, surrounded by police vehicles, as young and old alike struggled to make sense of a shooting rampage that killed at least 28 people, including 20 children.
Mergim Bajraliu, a 17-year-old high school student, said he was at his home nearby when he heard two shots. He and a neighbor ran to the school to find his 9-year-old sister, Venesa, a fourth-grader.
"My heart sank," he said, describing seeing two students covered in blood being carried out of the building, one of whom looked like his sister. To his relief, his sister later emerged unharmed, and Bajraliu greeted her with a hug.
"I was like, 'Oh my God," Bajraliu said.
Police said a heavily armed gunman fatally shot 26 people, including 20 children at the school, and was later found dead in the school building. Another adult was found dead in the town, which police were investigating as a related incident.
Home to about 27,000 people, the wealthy, wooded town of Newtown is in southwestern Connecticut, about 80 miles northeast of New York City. It is a bedroom community, with many homes situated on multiple acres of land and some residents commuting to larger cities including Hartford and Stamford.
"Evil visited this community today," Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy told reporters. "What has happened, what has transpired at this school building will leave a mark on this community and every family impacted."
President Barack Obama brushed away tears during an appearance at the White House briefing room where he said, "We're endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years." He ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in a national symbol of mourning.
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