President Barack Obama visited the scene of America’s latest school shooting tragedy on Sunday, as calls mounted for legislative action to curb the nation’s addiction to guns.
Obama was meeting victims’ families and first responders who had to view Friday’s horrific carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, a quaint postcard-pretty town of 27,000 haunted by the most appalling crime.
Officials formally identified Adam Lanza, 20, as the shooter and confirmed that he shot his mother several times in the head at the house they shared before going to his old school and embarking on a gruesome killing spree.
Despite the rain and cold conditions, queues stretched for at least 200 yards (meters) outside the auditorium at Newtown High School, where Obama was to attend a vigil later on Sunday evening and give an address.
Adults stood in groups, some crying and hugging, others joining younger children, many of elementary school age, in carrying teddies and cuddly toys as symbols of remembrance for young lives tragically taken too soon.
Lanza used his mother’s Bushmaster .223 assault rifle to kill 26 people at the school, including 20 children aged either six or seven, before taking his own life with a handgun as police officers closed in and sirens wailed.
During his rampage, the shooter had four guns and multiple magazines, some holding up to 30 clips, but Connecticut State Police spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vance said it was unclear how many bullets were fired.
Connecticut’s Chief Medical Examiner Wayne Carver has said that the bodies of the child victims — all aged just six or seven — were riddled with as many as 11 bullets.
Vance declined to hint at any possible motive they may have uncovered so far in their investigation, saying: “We don’t have a specific reason we can stand here and say this occurred.”
As Obama visited heartbroken Newtown, there was an increasing clamor from gun control activists to use the tragedy as a tipping point to finally force action to tackle the nation’s lax laws on firearm ownership.