Washington: The residents of an idyllic Connecticut town were reeling in horror yesterday from the massacre of 20 small children and six adults in one of the worst school shootings in US history.
Authorities offered little clue as to the motive for the shootings in Newtown, a wooded and picturesque small town north-east of New York City.
Police have not yet publicly identified the victims, but families have been notified, a process Vance told FoxNews was "heartbreaking" for everyone involved.
Vance told Fox medical examiners were working through the night to confirm the identities of the victims. Officials had said they expected to be able to release the names of the victims later yesterday. Hours after the shooting, hundreds of people gathered for a vigil, the crowd filling the church to capacity and spilling outside its doors.
"This is a kind of community, when things like that happen, they really pull together," the priest, Robert Weiss, said during the Mass. David Connors, whose triplets were at the school during the shooting but were unharmed, said he was still horrified. "It's hard. I've never imagined a thing like that could happen here."
"Our faith is tested," state Governor Dan Malloy told the congregants. "Not just necessarily our faith in God, but our faith in community, and who we are, and what we collectively are."
Earlier the governor had said "evil visited this community today." President Barack Obama, wiping away tears and struggling to maintain his composure, said he was aghast over the tragedy.
State police spokesman Vance said just one injured person survived, indicating that the gunman was unusually accurate or methodical in his fire.
The majority of killings, which began at around 9:30 am, "took place in one section of the school, in two rooms," Vance added. The children were aged between five and 10, officials said.
US media reported that the killer was Adam Lanza, 20, and that police had earlier confused him with his brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, whose identity card he had been carrying with him when he went into the school.
The surviving brother was in custody and being questioned, according to US television reports.
Witnesses described an intense fusillade fired at the elementary school, possibly numbering some 100 rounds, and seeing a corridor splattered with blood.
"I thought we were all going to die," a first grade teacher told ABC through tears as she recounted hiding with her students.