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Tragedy In Connecticut: Deadly Shooting At Elementary School

The nation is watching in horror today as the scope of a tragedy in Newtown, Conn., becomes clear.

There's been a shooting at Newtown's Sandy Hook elementary school and it's being reported that many children were killed. It may have been the worst such attack at an elementary or high school in the nation's history, horribly surpassing the 13 people killed by two students at Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999.

By 2:45 p.m. ET, there were ominous reports (most notably from CNN) that the death toll might approach 30.

The incident began around 9:30 a.m. ET. As of 1:45 p.m. ET, the information being reported by local and national media was widely varied -- from a few deaths to more than 20. Sandy Hook is a K-4 school. According to state records, there are about 670 students enrolled there.

At a news briefing early this afternoon, authorities confirmed there were "several fatalities," of both students and staff, but declined to offer specific numbers.

We will keep monitoring and updating as this story develops. NPR plans special coverage of the news, starting at 2 p.m. ET. We'll put an audio player atop this post.

Update at 2:45 p.m. ET. Law Enforcement Source: Gunman's Name Is Ryan Lanza.

A law enforcement source in position to know tells NPR's Carrie Johnson that the gunman's name was Ryan Lanza. That's what other news outlets were told earlier. The source also says one of the weapons found at the scene was a .223 caliber rifle.

Update at 2:30 p.m. ET. From The New York Times: Gunman's Mother Was A Teacher At The School.

"Law enforcement official says gunman at Ct. school killed mother, who was teacher, then killed 18 children in class," tweets Times Deputy Metro Editor Clifford Levy. NBC News is reporting that a body found in New Jersey is that of the suspect's father. Neither of those reports has been independently confirmed by NPR.

We are beginning to see reports, citing unnamed sources, about who the gunman was. NPR, however, has not yet heard from anyone in authority who the shooter was.

Update at 2:25 p.m. ET. "We Were Told To Hold Each Others' Hands And Close Our Eyes," Child Says About Evacuation.

A heartbreaking account from one of the young students. As they were being led from the building, the children were told to old each others' hands and "close our eyes."

Update at 1:45 p.m. ET. "Several Fatalities":

"There were several fatalities at the scene, both students and staff," Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance just told reporters. He said he would not give specifics, pending notification of the victims' families.

According to Vance, 911 calls started coming into Newtown police around 9:30 a.m. The local police contacted state authorities, who responded to the scene. Officers "immediately entered the school," Vance said, and started both searching for the shooter and evacuating the students and staff.

The gunman, Vance said, was found "deceased inside the building."

Our original post and earlier updates follow:

11:20 a.m. ET: There was a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., this morning, but as is often the case in the early minutes and hours after such a tragedy it is not clear what has happened.

We will update when more solid information comes in about the situation at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Among the local news outlets that are following the story closely:

-- NBC Connecticut.

-- The Newtown Bee.

-- The Hartford Courant.

-- Danbury's News Times.

WSHU reporter Craig Lemoult has also just arrived at the scene.

Update at 12:37 p.m. ET. Hospital Confirms Three Patients; News Conference Set For 1 p.m. ET Again:

John Murphy, a spokesman at Danbury Hospital, just told reporters that there are three patients at the hospital with injuries suffered during the incident. He also said it's his understanding that police will be briefing at 1 p.m. ET.

Update at 12:15 p.m. ET. News Briefing Moved Up:

Authorities are now expected to brief the news media shortly.

Update at 11:35 a.m. ET. News Briefing Later:

Connecticut State Police are expected to hold a news briefing at 1 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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