NEWTOWN, Conn. - The mass shooting that left 20 elementary school students dead Friday stunned this small Connecticut town and found the young friends of the victims recounting tales of horror.
"I heard gunshots; I was under a desk with three or four other people," said Luie Munguia, an 8-year-old third-grader.
He spoke in the late morning near the school with his mother, Lindsay Sweeney, and grandmother, Kathy Sweeney.
"It is surreal, like something out of a movie. ... I'm just praying for everyone," Lindsay Sweeney said.
The shootings Friday began just after 9:30 a.m. at Sandy Hook Elementary School, about 60 miles northeast of New York City, prompting panic inside and outside the school.
The death toll - 26 victims plus the gunman - made it the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.
Another adult was found dead near the school, authorities said, adding that the victim lived with the shooter.
Richard Wilson, 36, of Sandy Hook, said he and his wife were home when they got the call there was a shooting at their son's school. Like many parents, they raced to the school, becoming part of a crime scene that quickly spread through the neighborhood.
Sarah Walker Carson, a former New Haven Register reporter, said her young son, Will, was in the school at the time of the shooting.
"I've never been more terrified in my life," she said. "My heart was pounding. I couldn't race fast enough (to the school)."
"It's the most terrible moment of a parent's life - you have no idea," Richard Wilson said.
Their son, Richie, 7, later said the shots sounded like "really loud pots were banging."
A law enforcement official in Washington said the attacker used multiple weapons, including a .223-caliber rifle. The name of the shooter was not immediately released. In addition, police said a body was discovered in a home not far from the school that may be linked to the school shootings. The shooter's mother was presumed to be among the dead inside the school, where one person was injured.
An official said that police also were searching a location in New Jersey in connection with the shootings.
A tearful President Obama addressed the country just after 3 p.m..
"I know there is not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do," said Obama, who paused several times during his remarks to compose himself. "The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. "They had their entire lives ahead of them. birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.
He promised action to prevent such tragedies again but did not say what that would be.
Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy, spoke brefly at a press conference and said, "It's a tragic, tragic scene."