“The news from Newtown saddens me deeply. Once again we are faced with horror from a deed which we cannot grasp,” said Chancellor Merkel in a statement, joining leaders across the world who expressed their sympathies with victims and their families in the aftermath of the massacre.
“The thought of the murdered pupils and teachers makes my heart heavy” Merkel added. “My deepest sympathies go out to the relatives, I wish you strength and comfort, may you not be alone in your pain.”
At 9.30 on Friday morning, 20 year-old gunman Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook elementary school armed with pistols and a semiautomatic rifle, and preceded to shoot dead on the spot six members of staff including the school principle and 18 schoolchildren said to be aged between five and 10 years old.
Two further children were taken to hospital where they died of their wounds. Lanza, who died at the scene, had earlier shot his mother Nancy in her home. Further details were slow to emerge on Saturday as police continued their investigation of the crime scene.
Christoph Matschie, vice-president of Thuringia, said the shooting had left him “stunned and in deep mourning.” He added that the massacre brought up the terrible experiences of April 2002, when a 19 year-old pupil shot 16 people at a school in Erfurt in Thuringia, before turning the gun on himself.