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NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBS Connecticut/AP) — WTIC-News*CBS News is reporting that at least 26 people are dead, including 18 students, after a mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The gunman is among the dead.
CBS News’ John Miller reports there is preliminary information that the gunman was the father of one of the students. Miller additionally reports the gunman is 20 years old and is from New Jersey.
A law enforcement official in Washington said the attacker was a 20-year-old man with ties to the school and that one of the guns was a .223-caliber rifle. The official also said that New Jersey State Police were searching a location in that state in connection with the shootings. That official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the source was not authorized to speak on the record about the developing criminal investigation. It is not known whether the shooter took his own life or was killed.
“The shooter is deceased inside the building,” State Police Lt. Paul Vance said during a press conference, adding that the scene is secure.
CBS News reports that a potential second shooter is in custody and that SWAT is now investigating the home of the suspect.
A witness tells WFSB-TV that a second man was taken out of the woods in handcuffs wearing a black jacket and camouflage pants and telling parents on the scene, “I did not do it.”
Fox Connecticut reports that the shooting began in the kindergarten classroom.
“It’s just a bad situation,” Newtown Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Stoyak told CBS 2.
NPR is reporting that Connecticut is reaching out to other states to help with autopsies because they don’t have enough medical examiners.
Two students and a teacher were also injured in the shooting and they were taken to Dansbury Hospital, spokeswoman Diane Burke told CBS News York.
Teachers and police escorted students out of the building following the shooting.
“It was a very orderly evacuation given the circumstances,” Connecticut Post reporter Brian Koonz told CBS New York.
One mother tells CBS 2 reporter Lou Young that it’s like a “war zone” in Newtown. Her child told Young he had bullets “whizzing by” him in the hallway and that a teacher pulled him into a classroom.
Another mother described to Young the devastation parents felt when they found out their children didn’t survive the shooting.
“All these parents were waiting for their children to come out. There were 20 parents that were just told that their children were dead,” she told Young.
Police responded to the school shooting at 9:41 a.m. WFSB-TV reporter Len Besthoff calls it a “chaotic scene.”
Stephen Delgiadice said his 8-year-old daughter heard two big bangs and teachers told her to get in a corner. His daughter was fine.
“It’s alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America,” he said.
Mergim Bajraliu, 17, heard the gunshots echo from his home and raced to check on his 9-year-old sister at the school. He said his sister, who was fine, heard a scream come over the intercom at one point. He said teachers were shaking and crying as they came out of the building.
“Everyone was just traumatized,” he said.
The school superintendent’s office says the district has locked down schools as a preventive measure to ensure the safety of students and staff. Schools in neighboring towns also were locked down as a precaution.
State police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance says they have a number of personnel on the scene to assist.
The White House said President Barack Obama was notified of the shooting.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says he’s spoken with federal officials who have offered to provide help to the state and the Newtown community in the aftermath of a deadly grade school shooting.
Malloy arrived in Newtown on Friday afternoon, hours after a shooting that left the gunman dead and at least one teacher wounded.
The governor’s office said several state agencies, including emergency management, public health and the Department of Children and Families, will be coordinating the state’s response.
In addition, Malloy says State Police are coordinating law enforcement work with federal and local authorities.
It wasn’t clear how many people were injured at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Danbury Hospital said it has admitted three patients.
This shooting rivals the massacres at Virginia Tech in 2007 where 32 people were killed and at Columbine High School in 1999 where 13 were gunned down.
The worst mass school murder in American history took place on May 18,1927 in Bath Township, Mich., when a former school board member set off three bombs that killed 45 people.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)