WASHINGTON, December 15 - RAPSI. At least 20 children and six adults were shot dead Friday when a heavily-armed gunman clad in black opened fire inside an elementary school in a small town in Connecticut, officials said, in the second murderous shooting rampage in the United States this week, RIA Novosti reports.

The shooting occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in the town of Newtown about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northeast of New York City shortly after the school day began and schools throughout the district were locked down as word of the violence spread.

US television networks broadcast video from the scene showing security forces surrounding the building as lines of visibly frightened children, some of them crying and holding hands, followed adults leading them in a run across the school parking lot to safer locations.

“I was in the gym and I heard like seven loud booms,” said one student quoted by a local television station.

“The gym teachers told us to go in the corner and we huddled. We all heard these booming noises, and we started crying. So the gym teachers told us to go into the office where no one could find us. Then a police officer told us to run outside.”

A number of major US media outlets reported that the suspect, a male, was dead at the scene though it was not immediately clear how he died. Reports said he had been carrying two firearms and wearing a bullet-proof vest.

The suspected shooter was identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza.

“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years,” Obama said, admitting that he was speaking both as the US president and as a parent.

“I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.”

Obama said local officials would be given all needed resources to care for the shooting victims and their families and determine how and why it happened.

Law enforcement officials said they would not confirm the total number of fatalities until families of all the victims had been notified. Leading US media outlets however, quoting unnamed law enforcement sources, said that at least 26 people had been killed, 20 of them children.

The Connecticut shooting came two days after a gunman at a mall near Portland, Oregon that was packed with holiday shoppers opened fire, killing two people and unleashing panic in the city before taking his own life.