The nation remains in shock and dismay after a gunman reportedly entered an elementary school in Connecticut and opened fire killing 27 people including 20 children. The incident is being deemed the second-deadliest school shooting in American history.
Witnesses recall hearing nearly 100 shots on Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., about 60 miles outside of New York City. The shooter has been identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza. Reports indicate Lanza made his way through the school building and opened fire. Police found Lanza dead at the scene, an apparent suicide, and have recovered three guns.
Before going to the school Lanza reportedly killed his mother, who previously worked at the school. Among those also killed was the school’s principal Dawn Hocksprung. The children killed were 6 and 7 years old.
President Barack Obama became emotional during a press conference at the White House Friday. He said the shooting left the nation heartbroken.
“The majority of those who died were children — beautiful, little kids..,” Obama said before taking a brief pause to wipe away tears. “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.
NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous expressed condolences to the victims and their families on Friday.
“Today’s horrific crime claimed so many lives and so many futures,” stated Jealous. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, and the entire community of Newtown. We will continue to support the community as it recovers from this tragedy.”
Marian Wright Edelman Wright, President of the Children’s Defense Fund, questions what will it take to stop children from being killed by guns. She said every three hours a child or teen is killed by a gun in America and urges politicians to step up to keep children safe.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Locally, New Yorkers are mourning the victims and continuing the conversation on gun control laws.
“Our prayers are with those devastated by this horrific shooting and we appeal for people to unite in prayer to end the bloodshed across the country,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton. “I hope that our nation’s leaders from all backgrounds and walks of life, can come together in the weeks ahead to forge a path where these terrible, senseless gun violent tragedies are eliminated from our society”
City Comptroller John Liu said in a statement, “As I await my child’s dismissal from school, I can only imagine with horror the pain being felt throughout the community in the face of such senseless violence and devastating loss.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he is “shocked and saddened” by the tragedy. He added that New Yorkers are standing together with Connecticut as they begin the healing process.
“While we don’t have all the facts and our focus must be on the victims, this is yet another senseless and horrific act of violence involving guns,” he said. “We as a society must unify and once and for all crack down on the guns that have cost the lives of far too many innocent Americans. Let this terrible tragedy finally be the wake-up call for aggressive action and I pledge my full support in that effort.”
Anti-violence group Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. held a prayer vigil on Saturday at their headquarters to pray for the victims and the families of the shooting and for better safety in schools.