Updated Saturday with DeKalb Schools statement:
The shootings in Newtown have deeply shaken people everywhere. I continue to see numerous Facebook postings expressing shock, grief and anger, and it is the first thing people mention wherever I go in Decatur today. Many people cry as they talk about the mass murder of 20 children and six adults at the school.
In addition, my local school system sent out an advisory today about to talk to children here about the deaths of children, teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
We are a nation in crisis today over this. And a nation unsure of what to do next.
Back to the original posting from yesterday:
Twenty children are among the dead at Sandy Hook Elementary, a school of 700 in Newtown, a small town in Connecticut, about 65 miles from New York City. The gunmen, who committed suicide after his rampage, is 20-year-olds. Adam Lanza died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but not before killing his mother Nancy Lanza at home and then driving to the school in her car, according to news report. (The details of this horrific story are changing by the hour as more information is released.)
Earlier reports were that Nancy Lanza was a teacher at the school but that is now in question. She is not on the faculty list at the school.
Lanza’s violent rampage through the school this morning left 20 young children and six adults dead there. All told, he shot and killed 27 people before turning the gun on himself.
My husband’s sister lives in this picturesque town and teaches at the middle school. I have not talked to her but my husband has exchanged messages with her. I cannot imagine the grief and horror as families learn that their beloved child is among the victims of this psycho.
Among the responses:
DeKalb County Schools:
In light of the tragedy in Connecticut, the DeKalb County School District has asked all school administrators and staff to review their safe school and emergency plans. School resource officers and campus supervisors will continue to be highly visible at their assigned schools to provide maximum security for staff and students. We will continue to communicate with the different police departments in the district to provide support as needed. The safety of students, staff and visitors is our top priority in the DeKalb County School District, and we are dedicated to ensuring that our public schools remain the safest places for our most precious resources -our children
This afternoon, I spoke with Governor Malloy and FBI Director Mueller. I offered Governor Malloy my condolences on behalf of the nation, and made it clear he will have every single resource that he needs to investigate this heinous crime, care for the victims, counsel their families.
We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news I react not as a President, but as anybody else would — as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.
The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers — men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.
So 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. 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 are no words that will ease their pain.
As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago — these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.
This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we’ll tell them that we love them, and we’ll remind each other how deeply we love one another. But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight. And they need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans. And I will do everything in my power as President to help.
Because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need — to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories but also in ours. May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.
John Barge, Georgia state school superintendent:
We at the Georgia Department of Education grieve with the victims and families of the senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Generally speaking, schools are safe places for students, but these kinds of incidents remind us to always keep school safety at the forefront. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sandy Hook Elementary School community.
Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund:
What is it going to take to stop the craziness of gun violence in this country when every three hours a child or teen is killed by a gun? What is it going to take to make the politicians stand up and put sensible gun laws in place so we don’t have to mourn the horror of more senseless deaths of young children murdered at an elementary school? Once again we are faced with unspeakable horror, and once again we are reminded that there is no safe harbor for our children. How young do the victims have to be and how many children need to die before we stop the proliferation of guns in our nation?
We can’t just talk about it and then do nothing until the next shooting when we will profess shock again. This latest terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School is no fluke. It is a result of the senseless, immoral neglect of all of us as a nation to fail to protect children instead of guns and to speak out against the pervasive culture of violence. It is up to us to stop these preventable tragedies.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan:
School shootings are always incomprehensible and horrific tragedies. But words fail to describe today’s heartbreaking and savage attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As the father of two children in elementary school, I can barely imagine the anguish and losses suffered today by the Newtown community. Our hearts and prayers go out to every parent, child, teacher, staff member, and administrator at Sandy Hook and the surrounding community. And our thanks go out to every teacher, staff member, and first responder who cared for, comforted, and protected children from harm, often at risk to themselves. We will do everything in our power to assist and support the healing and recovery of Newtown.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten:
The entire AFT community is shaken to its core by this massacre of young children and the educators and school employees who care for and nurture them. Twenty children and six adults were shot and killed today in one of the worst school shootings in history. We grieve for them all, and our prayers are with the Sandy Hook Elementary School community and all of Newtown, as well as the AFT nurses caring for victims at Danbury Hospital, following this heinous act. I just got off the phone with Newtown Federation of Teachers President Tom Kuroski, and pledged to do everything we can to provide support and comfort to the students, teachers, administrators, their families and everyone in this community grappling with this trauma.
Our thanks go out to all of the first responders for their efforts to ensure the safety of all the students and staff. In this horrible moment, there were also extraordinary acts of courage by school staff to lock down the school and protect children.
We’ll never be able to prevent every senseless act of violence, but our children, educators and school employees go to school believing it is a safe sanctuary. We’ve been through this too many times. Everything we can do, we must do, including a renewed focus on gun control and preventing gun violence.
To all of those statements, I can only offer an amen.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog