News / USA

    Teacher, Father Recall Terror, Grief a Year After Connecticut Shooting

    Family members of shooting victims hold candles at a vigil for victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connectricut, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013.Family members of shooting victims hold candles at a vigil for victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connectricut, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013.
    x
    Family members of shooting victims hold candles at a vigil for victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connectricut, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013.
    Family members of shooting victims hold candles at a vigil for victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connectricut, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013.
    Reuters
    It has been a year since Kaitlin Roig barricaded herself and 15 first-graders in a bathroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School, hiding from a gunman who would go on to kill 26 people in an 11-minute rampage.
     
    Roig doesn't know if Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old shooter, ever entered her classroom in Newtown, Connecticut, although she could hear gunfire and terrified pleas from the hallway and adjacent first-grade classroom.
     
    “For myself, I am so aware that roles could have so easily been reversed,” said Roig, 30, who has since married and now uses the name Roig-DeBellis.
     
    “I remember, in the days after, it was so hard to get out of bed,” she said, sitting on a sofa in her Greenwich, Connecticut home. “I just walked around singing 'Amazing Grace' just over and over and over, because it was just so incredibly hard.”
     
    • Members of the Rutter family embrace early Christmas morning as they stand near memorials by the Sandy Hook firehouse in Newtown, Connecticut, December 25, 2012.
    • A man touches the snow covered grave of six-year-old Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, one of 20 schoolchildren killed in the December 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, at the Newtown Village Cemetery, Connecticut, December 25, 2012.
    • Officials including Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy observe a moment of silence on the steps of Edmond Town Hall while bells ring 26 times in Newtown, Connecticut, December 21, 2012.
    • Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, center, stands with other officials to observe a moment of silence in Newtown, December 21, 2012.
    • Ben Toby of Sandy Hook visits a memorial to the Newtown shooting victims during a heavy rain in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Connecticut, December 21, 2012.
    • Jeanne Walker walks through an overflowing memorial to the shooting victims, Newtown, Connecticut, December 20, 2012.
    • A portrait of Benjamin Andrew Wheeler, one of the students killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, stands outside of Trinity Episcopal Church before his funeral service, Newton, Connecticut, December 20, 2012.
    • Boy Scouts of America carry flags as they walk toward Trinity Episcopal Church before funeral services for Benjamin Andrew Wheeler, Newton, Connecticut, December 20, 2012.
    • A long line stretches down the block in front of the First Congregational Church before a memorial service for Lauren Rousseau in Danbury, Connecticut, December 20, 2012.
    • A police officer stands outside as a service begins for teacher Anne Marie Murphy at the St. Mary Of The Assumption Church in Katonah, New York, December 20, 2012.
    • Firefighters salute as a hearse passes for the funeral procession to the burial of 7-year-old Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Daniel Gerard Barden, Newtown, Connecticut, December 19, 2012.

    The Dec. 14 tragedy at Sandy Hook, among the most deadly school shootings in U.S. history, rocked this leafy, suburban town 70 miles (112 km) northeast of New York City. Coming just five months after a gunman opened fire in a Colorado movie theater, killing 12, the murder of 20 six-and seven-year-olds forced a national reckoning about gun violence.
     
    Lanza, a loner who appears to have had severe emotional problems, used guns that were legally purchased by his mother, Nancy Lanza. He killed her in her bed, then drove to the elementary school he had once attended, shooting his way in just as the school day was getting started. After the rampage, he shot himself.
     
    As the nation prepares to mark the first anniversary of the Dec. 14 massacre, Newtown has asked the public to stay away.
     
    For her part, Roig-DeBellis has planned a trip - a spa visit and maybe a nice dinner - anything to turn her focus away from the terror and excruciating sadness of that day.
     
    “An open heart”
     
    Recent Mass Shootings in the United States

    • December 2012: A gunman kills 20 children at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.
    • August 2012: An Army veteran kills six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
    • July 2012: A gunman kills 12 people during a showing of a Batman movie in Colorado.
    • January 2011: A gunman kills six people and wounds U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona.
    • November 2009: A U.S. Army psychiatrist kills 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas.
    • April 2007: A Virginia Tech university student kills 32 people before committing suicide.
    • April 1999: Two Columbine High School students kill 12 students, one teacher and themselves in Colorado.
    The offices of Sandy Hook Promise, a parents group founded in the weeks after the shootings, are located in downtown Newtown. Artwork sent by children from across the country has been framed and mounted on the walls there. Scattered on tables are pamphlets on foundations set up by the families.
     
    Seated at one of those tables, Mark Barden, who lost his son, Daniel, gives a long pause when asked about forgiveness.
     
    “I'm trying to approach every bit of this with an open heart and an open mind,” said Barden. “It's a work in progress.”
     
    Like many other Sandy Hook parents, Barden has kept up a punishing schedule over the last year, traveling to Washington to meet with lawmakers to support a gun law that stalled in the U.S. Senate, and promoting the work of Sandy Hook Promise.
     
    “Maybe it has saved me,” he said of the group. “The way that Daniel lived his short life, I know that he would have done a whole lot of good. We take it very seriously now that it's our responsibility to do that good work.”
     
    For Barden, a guitarist who often performs in town, every day is an anniversary. The last haircut. The last swim team practice. The last Thanksgiving.
     
    “A lot of the memories are happy. But we're still so new at this. It's still so early on that it's hard not to get caught up in the grief,” he said.
     
    The parents of the children who died that day talk often about their struggle to break through the feeling of helplessness. Parent Together, an effort Sandy Hook Promise launched in November, aims to show people, regardless of their politics, that gun violence can be prevented.
     
    “Nobody's pro gun violence. So, it's not like there's two sides to this,” Barden said.
     
    “If we can save another family from going through what we are going through, then I can feel good about that for the rest of my life,” Barden said.
     
    Holiday sharing
     
    When the shooting started last Dec. 14, Roig-DeBellis's class was seated in a circle, sharing their holiday traditions.
     
    “I got up, I closed the door, I turned the lights off and I turned to my students and I said: 'We need to get into the bathroom - right now,”' she said.
     
    The bathroom was not more that three by four feet, too small to even hold a sink. Children climbed onto the toilet, behind the toilet. One perched on the toilet paper dispenser.
     
    “They were hearing exactly what I was hearing. It was extremely loud. It was extremely scary,” she said.
     
    Some 45 minutes later, when the police arrived, Roig-DeBellis would not let them in. For days after, she was in a daze, unsure if she was alive or dead.
     
    She ended up taking more than a year off from teaching, and has devoted that time to Classes4Classes, a charity that facilitates acts of kindness between groups of students across the country. She plans to return to teaching this summer.
     
    “What happened that day has nothing to do with being a teacher,” she said.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Jerry Frey from: USA
    December 14, 2013 8:04 AM
    Veronique Pozner, whose son Noah died in the attack, showed task force members the last picture taken of her son the night before the shooting as she urged broad new restrictions.

    She recalled her son’s inquisitive nature. “He used to ask, ‘If there are bad guys out there, why can’t they just all wake up one day and decide to be good?’ ”

    http://napoleonlive.info/did-you-know/pray-for-the-children/

    by: Jerry Frey from: USA
    December 13, 2013 12:15 PM
    Iconic image: Yoko Ono has tweeted this image of John Lennon’s bloodstained glasses together with a message about how many people have been killed by guns in the U.S. since his death
    http://napoleonlive.info/did-you-know/pray-for-the-children/

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora