NEWTOWN, CT (RNN) - Reaction from parents and residents of this small town was that something like this shouldn't happen here; it was something more likely 90 minutes away in New York City.
They found out Friday morning that although it was unlikely, it was not impossible.
"This is a nice town, this is a nice school," one witness inside the school said. "These are the kinds of things that don't happen here."
That witness reported hearing at least 100 rounds fired after there was yelling in the hallway.
Shortly thereafter, the entire Newtown Public School District that serves about 5,600 students was placed on lockdown.
State and federal law enforcement and emergency medical personnel flooded Sandy Hook Elementary.
"We found out there were all these people. They were right near the window in our classroom," said third grader Alexis Wasik. "We saw police officers and heard them on the roof of our building. Some people said they felt like they had a stomach ache."
President Barack Obama spoke with Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and FBI Director Robert Mueller. Obama pledged to do everything possible to support state and local law enforcement's investigation into what is now the second-worst mass shooting at a school campus in U.S. history.
Multiple people who live near the school, including a woman who said she was taking her dogs out, reported seeing and hearing several police cars driving toward the area near the school.
The slow trickle of details did not help the shock and devastation of the people affected by fatal shootings at a normally peaceful school of more than 670 kindergarten through fourth graders.
Although people are not getting answers as quickly as they would like, security expert Lou Palumbo said this is a process that will take quite some time to unfold.
"You can't second-guess what they're doing there at this point," Palumbo said. "You have to realize that this is an immense undertaking, and it's particularly sensitive because there's children involved."
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton offered assistance to nearby Newtown. Boughton said multiple people had been transported to a hospital in Danbury.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this terrible incident," Boughton said. "Our police are working very closely with Newton police to provide assets they may not have."
"State police are coordinating [with] federal and local authorities in Newtown. Will provide [additional] updates as they become available."
"I am shocked and saddened by the horrific news from Sandy Hook Elementary School this morning, and I pray that kids, teachers, staff and families reach safety as quickly as possible. While we don't have much information right now, our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones."
"As a father, incidents like these weigh heavily on him."
National PTA feels enormous sympathy for the students, families and communities affected by the horrendous tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., today. Our country has experienced far too many of these tragedies, and we all share in the sense of loss and hurt.
School and child safety is one of PTA's core tenets as it is crucial to effective learning. A traumatic event like that of this morning affects the entire community, especially the families and friends of the victims. This can be an emotional time, and it's important for people affected by this tragedy to connect with and support each other.
National PTA has many resources to assist students, families, schools and PTAs in coping with school violence. The resources are downloadable at PTA.org/SchoolViolence.
National PTA believes the protection of children in all school settings is a fundamental right and has made this the utmost priority for our work and advocacy.
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