Newtown Five Years Later
Too Many Tears – Newtown Connecticut Five Years Later – Part One
Five years ago this week, on December 14, 2012 a disturbed individual took the first gun his mother bought him, a 22 caliber long rifle, walked into her bedroom while she was sleeping, and put four bullets into her brain. His father was quoted later on as saying, “Each one of those bullets represented a member of his family, one for his mother, one for me, one for his brother, and one for himself. Before he shot her, his mother would take him to the shooting range with one of his many guns to do target practice. She thought this might be a way of bonding with her son.
The shooter (I never use his name) was 20 years old, lived with his mother in a large house in Newtown Connecticut, and spent much of his time in a room with black garbage bags sealing off all the natural light. He spent most of his waking hours playing first person shooter games on his computer. When he wanted something to eat, he would email his mother who would set the food outside his door. When he needed clean clothing, he would set his dirty clothes outside his door and email his mother to come wash them. Several times each day.
After he shot his mother dead, the shooter got in her car, and drove to the local high school. Finding a police car parked outside the school he continued on to one of the local elementary schools, Sandy Hook School where he got out of his car and approached the front door. Finding it locked he shot out the glass and stepped into the school. Hearing shots, the school principal Dawn Hochsprung and School Psychologist Mary Sherlach ran to the front of the school to confront the shooter. He shot and killed them both.
I won’t go into much detail about his next actions only to say he entered one classroom, and fired his semi-automatic weapon until every child and the teacher were dead. Moving on to the next room he found the door shut and locked so he moved on to the third door. Finding it open he proceeded to shoot until he ran out of ammunition. The teacher stood in front of a closet where she was sheltering a number of her students. One stood up and yelled, “RUN!” to his surviving classmates. They did. For their very lives. Reloaded, the shooter shot and killed this little hero, the teacher and the rest of the students who, frozen in fear, remained in the kill zone.
The children who escaped ran out of their classroom, down the hallway, out of the building, across the parking lot, across an open field, through the woods, and coming upon a driveway to a home, paused to catch their breath and lean against a stone wall wondering what to do next. The homeowner happened to be a psychologist, and seeing a group of children, first graders unsupervised in his driveway, quickly ran out, gathered them up and brought them inside from the cold December chill.
They described a scene of horror no decent human being should ever have to experience or describe much less a small child. He brought them stuffed animals he kept for his grandchildren, something for them to hold on to, for comfort, to allay the shock, the horror, the unrelenting fear they were experiencing.
He called 911, reported what he heard from the children, and was told to keep the children there, someone would come for them. One by one there was a knock on the door, and one parent or two would appear, and take their child in their arms until there were no more children, just the cold silence of their tears. The most difficult time, when more knocks came, someone hoping to find their child in comfort’s arms, only to be turned away empty handed and with empty hearts.
All of the parents were told to gather at the firehouse at the bottom of the hill leading to the school. No one, expect first responders were allowed up the hill to the school. They were all told to wait, their children would be brought down to them. Within a few minutes, teachers with police escorts began arriving at the firehouse with children, one by one, and in small groups. By the end of the morning hundreds of parents were reunited with their children and left the firehouse, relieved beyond description.
And then only a small number of parents remained. Alone…waiting. Waiting for children that would never arrive. The children who were killed that day, in their school, in their first grade classrooms, decorated with holly, and snowflakes and drawings of Christmas Trees. Grief counselors stood at the ready as the officer in charge stood in the front of the firehouse to tell the last group, that he was sorry… so sorry, but their children were among those killed. They would not be able to even see them until the scene had been cleared by the medical examiner.