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US seeks answers after school massacre

Updated: 2012-12-16 08:23
By Chris Kaufman and Hilary Russ in Newtown, Conn.Reuters ( China Daily)

Residents of the small Connecticut community of Newtown were reeling on Saturday from one of the worst mass shootings in US history, as police sought answers on 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 his mother, Nancy, the school's principal and psychologist, before shooting himself.

US seeks answers after school massacre

A priest comforts one of the wounded students of the Connecticut school shooting spree after a prayer service. [Photo/Xinhua]

There was more horror in the US before the day was over: Gunfire erupted in the lobby of the medieval-themed Excalibur Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas strip on Friday, killing two people in an apparent murder-suicide, Las Vegas media reported.

In Connecticut, Lanza was an honors student who lived in a prosperous neighborhood with his mother, a well-liked woman who enjoyed hosting dice games and decorating the house for the holidays.

Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home before driving her car to the school and - armed with at least two handguns - carried out the massacre before taking his own life, officials said. A third weapon, a .223-caliber rifle, was found in the car, and more guns were found inside the school.

The 20-year-old may have suffered from a personality disorder, law enforcement officials said. Investigators were trying to learn as much as possible about Lanza but so far, authorities have not spoken publicly of any possible motive. Witnesses said the shooter didn't utter a word.

Law-enforcement officials believe Adam Lanza attended the school several years ago but appeared to have no recent connection to the place.

At least one parent said Lanza's mother was a substitute teacher there. But her name did not appear on a staff list. Law enforcement official said they were unable to establish any connection between her and the school.

In a live national television address, US President Barack Obama choked up and wiped away tears, saying, "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 US gun laws.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of the advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said it was "almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen.

"We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership - not from the White House and not from Congress," Bloomberg said. "That must end today."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.