WASHINGTON — A tearful President Barack Obama said Friday he grieved first as a father about the massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, declaring, Our hearts are broken today. He called for meaningful action to prevent such shootings but did not say what it should be.
The majority of those who died were children — beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old, Obama said.
At that point he had to pause for several seconds to keep his composure, and he wiped his eyes.
The scene in the White House briefing room was one of the most emotional moments of Obama's presidency. Near him, two senior aides cried and held hands as they listened to the president.
Twenty-seven people, including 20 children, were killed when a gunman opened fire inside the school. The shooter blasted his way through the building as young students cowered helplessly. The dead included the shooter.
The story jolted parents and other people across the nation, and the White House was no different.
He ordered that U.S. flags be flown at half-staff on public grounds through Tuesday. The White House also canceled a trip Obama was planning to take Wednesday to Portland, Maine. Notably, House Speaker John Boehner, with whom Obama is locked in tense budget negotiations, announced that Republicans would not offer their usual Saturday radio address so that President Obama can speak for the entire nation at this time of mourning.