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Americans are once again mourning and grappling with the question, ‘Why?’ after a gunman shot and killed multiple children at an elementary school in Connecticut on Friday. At least 26 people were killed–18 of them children–at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., according to news reports.

Photo of the Sandy Hook chess club taken in 2006. (Photo by AskJoanne)

It will likely rank as the nation’s second deadliest shooting at a school, following the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, in which 32 people were killed. In 1999, two students killed 13 people and themselves at Columbine High School in Colorado, an incident that shocked the nation and prompted many schools to adopt new safety protocols.

The shooter was identified as Ryan Lanza, 24, of New Jersey, according to CBS News. The New York Times reported that his mother taught at the school. Lanza apparently walked into the school carrying multiple weapons, shot his mother, and then shot 18 children in her classroom. He then fired at several other adults in the school; early reports said the principal of the school was one of the targets. The shooter reportedly shot and killed himself inside the school.

Governor Bob McDonnell, of Virginia, was among many public officials expressing their condolences yesterday. “Unfortunately, Virginia has our own painful memories of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. Those memories will never fade, and we continue to grieve for all those lost on that April day,” he said. “We are all too aware of the impact that events like this can have on a community.”

The president was preparing to address the nation this afternoon. The Hechinger Report will publish reactions and updates as the day goes on.

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