Principal, school psychologist and gunman are also among the dead.
NEWTOWN, Conn. — At least 27 people were killed, including an unconfirmed number of children, in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, according to reports from Reuters and The Associated Press. If confirmed, it would be one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. It comes after a series of shooting rampages in the United States this year that have killed multiple victims.
An entire classroom of students remains unaccounted for, according to a report by The Hartford Courant, and the principal and school psychologist were among the dead, CNN said.
A law enforcement official says the shooter is a 20-year-old man with ties to the school. The official said that a gun used in the attacks is a .223-caliber rifle. The official also said that New Jersey state police are searching a location in that state in connection with the shootings.
“It was horrendous,” said parent Brenda Lebinski, who rushed to the school where her daughter is in the third grade. “Everyone was in hysterics – parents, students. There were kids coming out of the school bloodied. I don’t know if they were shot, but they were bloodied.”
Television images showed police and ambulances at the scene, and parents rushing toward the school. Parents were seen reuniting with their children and taking them home.
An official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way told the Associated Press the gunman apparently had two guns. The school district remains on lockdown as police investigate the shootings. There are unconfirmed reports of two shooters, according to a local newspaper.
President Barack Obama has been notified about the shooting and will receive regular updates throughout the day, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Friday.
Carney called the event “tragic” and said there would be time later for a discussion of policy implications.
Obama remains committed to trying to renew a ban on assault weapons, Carney said.
LIVE: Updates from the shooting site
Some students were reportedly being treated for trauma. A dispatcher at the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps said a teacher has been shot in the foot and taken to Danbury Hospital. Dr. Patrick Broderick said the hospital had treated only three patients from the shooting scene. The hospital is on lockdown to protect the privacy of victims and to allow staff to do their work unreported.
The school superintendent’s office says the district has locked down schools as a preventive measure to ensure the safety of students and staff.
State police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance says they have a number of personnel on the scene to assist. Police said a shooter was in the main office of the school shortly after 9:40 a.m. Groups of students — some crying, some holding hands — were being escorted away from the school by their teachers, the Courant reported. A staging area has been set up for students and their parents near the school.
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The district is made up of four elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school. Newtown, with a population of 27,000, is in northern Fairfield County, about 45 miles southwest of Hartford and 80 miles northeast of New York City.
Danbury Hospital, about 11 miles (18 km) west of the school, had received three patients from the scene, a hospital spokeswoman told NBC Connecticut. The mayor of Danbury, Mark Boughton, told MSNBC: “They are very serious injuries.”
A girl interviewed by NBC Connecticut described hearing seven loud “booms” as she was in gym class. Other children began crying and teachers moved the students to a nearby office, she said.
“A police officer came in and told us to run outside and so we did,” the unidentified girl said on camera.
One child was carried from Sandy Hook Elementary School by a police officer, and the child appeared to have been wounded, the town’s weekly newspaper, the Newtown Bee, said on its website.
Connecticut State Police said its officers were at the scene with local police but provided no additional details. The emergency call to police occurred at 9:41 a.m., state police said.
An individual answering the phone at the Newtown Police Department declined to comment. The United States has experienced a number of mass shooting rampages this year, most recently in Oregon, where a gunman opened fire at a shopping mall on Tuesday, killing two people and then himself.
The deadliest attack came in July at a midnight screening of a Batman film in Colorado that killed 12 people and wounded 58.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.