More details are continuing to emerge about the mass shooting that took place on Friday at a school in Newtown, Connecticut in the United States.
Of the 20 children shot dead 12 were girls and 8 boys. All were aged between 6 and 7. Parents had to identify them by photographs, a move intended to minimise their shock.
One girl had celebrated her seventh birthday just four days before she was shot dead.
Although America has witnessed numerous mass shootings in recent years the victims have rarely been this young.
“I’ve been at this a third of a century, and it’s – my sensibilities may not be the average man, but this probably is the worst I have seen or the worst that I know of any of my colleagues having seen”, said the Connecticut Chief Medical Officer Dr. Wayne Carver.
The six members of staff killed were all women, and included the principal Dawn Hochsprung, 30-year-old teacher Lauren Rousseau, and Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist.
“The principal of the school was running toward the shooter in order to protect her students”, said Janet Robinson, the school superintendent, “as was the school psychologist. One of the teachers helped people get out of a window. Incredible things that people did.”
Police have named the shooter as 20-year-old Adam Lanza. Before going to the school where he gunned down 26 victims, he first went to his mother’s house and shot her dead.
Officials say he used mainly a rifle, shooting his victims several times.
It is one of the worst mass shootings in recent history and has once again sparked arguments about gun law.