An unthinkable tragedy occurred in a small Connecticut town on Friday morning when a gunman entered an elementary school and killed 27 people, 20 of them children.
The incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a town about 60 miles northeast of New York, is already being called the nation’s worst school shooting.
According to authorities, a man identified as Adam Lanza entered a classroom round 9:30 a.m. ET on Friday morning. He shot and killed 20 children between the ages of five and 10, along with six staff members at the school, and himself. Lanza also shot and killed his mother, who was not a teacher at the school, as earlier reports had said.
As the story unfolded on Friday afternoon, the world watched with shock and disbelief that such a terrible thing could occur, two sentiments shared by many social media users.
Shortly after news of the shooting emerged on Twitter, people began tweeting prayers and condolences for the victims and their families. A number of Twitter users also expressed shock and anguish over the tragedy. By midday, the top trending topic on Twitter was #prayfornewtown.
Some used the tragedy to bring up gun control, much to the dismay of many Twitter members, who said the immediate aftermath of a tragedy was not the appropriate time for such a heated debate.
The social media conversations also focused on the media’s ongoing coverage of the tragedy, with some criticizing news outlets such as CNN for interviewing schoolchildren. Others have urged caution at reporting the name of the shooter, which is trending on Twitter, but has not yet been confirmed by authorities.
Among the most revealing tweets thus far about the people charged with covering the incident—as well as the nature of the developing story itself—comes from Slade Sohmer, editor of HyperVocal.com, who wrote:
Officials said the president, who held a brief yet emotional press conference on the shooting at 3:15 ET, had called Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy to express his condolences and to offer assistance.