Authorities say at least 26 people, including 18 children, were killed Friday when a gunman opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

*A tearful, emotional President Obama said the nation has endured too many of the kinds of shootings that took 26 lives this morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — 20 children, 6 adults.

At times using an index finger to wipe at the corner of his eyes, the president addressed the nation from the White House, pausing repeatedly as he struggled to keep his composure while speaking of the “beautiful little kids” — ages 5 to 10 — who had died and the life milestones they now would miss.

“Our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children and for the families of the adults who were lost,” Obama said. “Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early and there is no way to ease their pain.”

President Obama speaks from the White House about the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school (Dec. 14, 2012)

Just before his remarks, Obama ordered flags at federal facilities to be lowered to half-mast in honor of the victims.

In the immediate wake of the shootings, Obama spoke by phone with FBI Director Robert Mueller and Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy.

Obama has received updates on the attack since Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan first informed him of it at 10:30 a.m., said White House spokesman Jay Carney

Asked about the gun control issue, Carney said today is not the day for “Washington policy debates.”

While he didn’t specifically cite gun control in his speech, Obama said: “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action.”

Watch President Obama’s emotional speech below.

Officials identified the gunman as Ryan Lanza, 24, according to CNN. Reports say that he carried four weapons, and wore black clothing as well as a bullet proof vest. He died on the scene.

Unconfirmed reports say that principal Dawn Hochsprung and a school psychologist were killed, according to a parent who claimed to witness part of the attack, CNN reported.

Reports say that the alleged shooter appeared in the building’s main office at about 9:40 a.m., approximately 30 minutes after the school day began. The initial 911 call said that students were trapped in a classroom with the adult shooter who had two guns, according to WABC.

Students were led single file from the schoolhouse to a nearby fire station. Parents alerted to the catastrophe by text messages and emails sent by the school district arrived hoping to find their children safe.

There are approximately 626 students enrolled in kindergarten through 4th grade classes at Sandy Hook Elementary, with another 46 faculty members, Newtown Patch reported.