It’s the crime that has shocked the world – 27 people, many of them children, gunned down by killer Adam Lanza in Sandy Hook elementary school, Connecticut before he turned his weapon on himself.
And, like any big news event, the appalling tragedy has provoked hundreds of thousands of conversations and comments on social media sites and forums.
While most posts have been messages of sympathy, shock and condolence, social media has brought out the worst in some.
Police in Connecticut, dealing with the aftermath of the shooting, have hit out at the spread of social media “misinformation”.
Lt Paul Vance said some people had posed on social media sites, including Facebook, as the dead gunman.
“One thing that is becoming somewhat of a concern is misinformation that is being posted on social media sites,” he said. “There has been misinformation coming from people posing as the shooter in this case, posing using other IDs, mimicking this crime scene and criminal activity that took place in his community.
“There have been some things of somewhat of a threatening manner.” Lt Vance said people spreading misinformation would be prosecuted.
And while some posted sick messages that were immediately condemned by the police, the legitimate debate among other social media users turned to gun laws.
Twitter and Facebook users immediately started to draw comparisons with the 1996 shooting in Dunblane, when 16 children were killed in the small Scottish town.
The tragedy in Scotland prompted a campaign which eventually led to tighter gun controls, which make it illegal to buy or possess a handgun in the UK.
CNN host Piers Morgan said: “We banned handguns in Britain after that appalling tragedy. What will the US do? Inaction not an option.”
He added: “Stop worrying about the gun lobby. It’s time for some moral conviction and moral courage.”
Referring to a similar tragedy in Australia in 1996 when a shooting spree in Tasmania killed 35 people, leading the government to impose strict, new gun laws, media mogul Rupert Murdoch described the shootings as “terrible news,” asking: “When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons? As in Oz after similar tragedy.”
And other ordinary citizens across America took to Twitter to demand action from President Barack Obama.
Kelly Delaney wrote: “Dear @BarackObama: Columbine, Aurora, Oregon, and now Newton. It’s time to make a #guncontrol change in our country to keep us safe.”
And Elle Cupo said: “#GunControl should not be DEBATABLE. We are past the point of a ‘conversation.’”
Another user wrote: “Why are they still selling guns like chocolates?” And, yet another said: “Why do America need to have guns? Protection? Protection from what? Other crazy people with guns! #guncontrol.”
President Obama is preparing to fly to Newtown for an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. He will talk to families of the victims, meet with police and other emergency services and deliver a speech. Whether this latest gun tragedy proves a catalyst for change remains to be seen.