Washington: US President Barack Obama wiped tears and spoke of his grief as the investigators looked for answers as to why a 20-year-old gunman killed his mother and 26 other people, including 20 children in a Connecticut elementary school before apparently killing himself.
"I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same grief that I do," Obama, the father of two daughters aged 11 and 14, said as he stood at the podium in the White House press room, visibly struggling to keep his emotion in check.
Obama sympathised with the families of the dead and said that "every parent in America has a heart heavy with hurt."
"The overwhelming majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little children between five and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them. Birthdays. Graduations. Weddings. Kids of their own," he said.
Obama paused repeatedly as he spoke and the muscles near his right eye twitched as he worked to maintain his composure.
"Our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers, of these little children and for the families of the adults who were lost," Obama said.
Obama said he and his wife, Michelle, "are doing what I know every parent is doing - holding our children as close as we can and reminding them how much we love them."
Candle-light vigils were held in Newtown and across cities in America as the nation stood in solidarity with the families of the young children.
Obama also ordered that the national flag will be flown half mast in honour of the victims.
'Gunman had forced his way into school'
Police were still groping for the possible motive of the shooter, identified by as 20-year-old Adam Lanza who authorities said appeared to have taken his own life, turning his gun on himself in the school.
Police said Lanza, who grew up in the tight-knit community of 27,000, killed his mother at her Newtown home before going to the school where he primarily targeted two classrooms.
As police searched for the motive that led the 20-year-old man first kill his mother and then innocent children at the Connecticut elementary school, details emerging about the man indicated he suffered from a personality disorder.
"The victims have been positively identified," Lt J Paul Vance, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Police, told the media.
Vance did not give further details but said valuable information had been found at the gunman's home, according to the New York Times.
"We are hopeful it will paint a complete picture of how and why," Vance added.
The police have recovered a 9mm handgun from the scene. Officials said the shooter wore black combat dear and a military vest.
With the death toll at 26, the massacre in Newtown is the second-deadliest school shooting in US history, behind the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting that left 32 dead, including two Indians.
Indian communities mourn
Indian Americans too were shocked and heart-broken over the massacre.
North American Punjabi Association (NAPA) said: "Our hearts go out to the victims and their families...With the nation still overcoming the grief of the Wisconsin shootings, this incident has added to the pain."
Six Sikh worshippers were killed and three injured when a gunman opened fire at the Wisconsin gurdwara Aug 5. The gunman then shot himself in the head.
We are offering prayers for the victims of the shooting, said NAPA spokesperson Satnam Singh Chahal.
World leaders condole
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon too voiced his "deepest condolences" over the victims of the school shooting.
In a letter to Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, Ban called the Sandy Hook Elementary School rampage "shocking murders", spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard called Friday’s attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a “senseless and incomprehensible act of evil.”
Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Union’s executive Commission, said: “Young lives full of hope have been destroyed. On behalf of the European Commission and on my own behalf, I want to express my sincere condolences to the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron, said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the “horrific shooting.”
“My thoughts are with the injured and those who have lost loved ones,” he said. “It is heartbreaking to think of those who have had their children robbed from them at such a young age, when they had so much life ahead of them.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her “deepest sympathy” is reserved for relatives of the victims.
Chinese President Hu Jintao sent a message of condolences to US President Barack Obama following the shooting incident.
Iran also expressed condolences to families of victims. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast offered sympathy to families of the victims of the "tragic incident" and censured the killing of innocent people across the world, reported Xinhua, citing Press TV.
First Published: Sunday, December 16, 2012, 00:32