President Obama reacts to the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that killed at least 27 people.
WASHINGTON – A tearful President Barack Obama expressed "overwhelming grief" on Friday for the victims of a shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school and called on Americans to set aside politics and "take meaningful action" to prevent more tragedies of this kind.
"We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years," Obama said, his voice cracking with emotion at times during a nationally televised appearance in the White House briefing room just hours after one of the worst shooting rampages in U.S. history.
At least 27 people have been killed, including 20 children, in the shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, about 60 miles northeast of New York City.
A second person was found dead at a secondary scene nearby, said state police.
"The majority of those who died were children — beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old," Obama said.
He paused for several seconds to keep his composure as he teared up and wiped an eye. Nearby, two aides cried and held hands as they listened to Obama.
"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.
"Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children's innocence has been torn away from them too early and there are no words that will ease their pain," he said.
"They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own," the president said of those who were killed.
He ordered that U.S. flags be flown at half-staff on public grounds through Tuesday.
House Speaker John Boehner has also ordered Capitol flags to be lowered.
President Obama spoke to FBI Director Robert Mueller and Conn. Gov. Dan Malloy about the school shooting and to "express his condolences and concern" for the victims and their families, said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
"Evil visited this community today," Malloy told reporters.
Malloy will have every resource he needs to deal with the school shooting, Obama said.
Obama said the U.S. has been through shootings like this too many times, and the country will have to take meaningful action to prevent such tragedies, regardless of politics.
As the president received briefings about the shooting, Carney, responded to questions about gun control and Obama's campaign promises on the matter by saying "I don't think today is that day" for such a discussion.
Others, however, said it was.
"If now is not the time to have a serious discussion about gun control and the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our society, I don't know when is," Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. said in a statement.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.
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