A teacher who survived the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School broke down during an interview after recounting that she had told her students she loved them because she wanted it to be the last thing they would hear.
First grade teacher Kaitlin Roig said she was not sure if it was appropriate for a teacher to tell her students that she loved them but she feared she was going to be killed along with the children.
"I need you to know that I love you all very much," Ms Roig said.
"I thought that was going to be the last thing they were ever gonna to hear. I thought we were all gonna die."
Some children told journalists their teachers had told them to huddle in the corner of their classrooms after they had locked the doors.
One teacher said she barricaded the door to her classroom after locking the door and telling the students to be quiet.
Witnesses described a terrifying bloodbath in the small town school, shortly after classes had got underway.
"I was going back to my classroom and I heard like a person kicking on the door and I turned around I smelled smoke," an eight-year-old boy told NBC.
"Then bullets whizzed by and then a teacher pulled me into her room," he said, describing "total panic."
Other witnesses described an intense fusillade, with perhaps 100 rounds fired, and seeing a corridor splattered with blood.
"I was in the gym at the time ... we heard lots of bangs, and we thought that it was the custodian knocking stuff down. We heard screaming. And so went to the wall, and we sat down," a young boy told WCBS television.
"Then the police came in. It's like, 'is he in here?' Then he ran out. Then somebody yelled get to a safe place, so we went to the closet in the gym and we sat there for a little while," he said, as stunned parents arrived.
"Then the police like were knocking on the door, and they're like, we're evacuating people, we're evacuating people. We ran out.
"They're police at every door leading us down this way, this way. Quick, quick, come on. We ran down to the firehouse. There's a man that pinned down to the ground with handcuffs on," he said.
Twenty children and six teachers were killed in the rampage.
Connecticut State Police spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vance said 18 children were killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School and that two more died of their wounds in hospital.
Six adults at the school were killed, including its principal, before the killer was shot - either by his own hand or police.
There were very few non-fatal injuries reported, indicating that once targeted, there was rarely any chance of escape, and that the gunman was unusually accurate in his fire.
Vance said the majority of killings "took place in one section of the school, in two rooms." He was reported to be carrying at least two handguns.
Local media reported that the shooter began in the kindergarten section where he killed his teacher mother and her class, then moved on. The child victims were reported to be aged between five and ten.
The gunman has been identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza.
Police believe he killed his mother Nancy Lanza, who was a teacher at Sandy Hook, at their home before undertaking the massacre at the school.
The 20-year-old may have suffered from a personality disorder, law enforcement officials said.
Investigators were trying to learn as much as possible about Lanza but so far, authorities have not spoken publicly of any possible motive. Witnesses said the shooter didn't utter a word.
Source: AFP, ABC
Author: Martin Zavan, Approving editor: Nick Pearson