In Newtown, debate begins on future of school massacre site

People arrive for a community meeting at the Newtown High school on the future of Sandy Hook Elementary School the site of the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history in Newtown, Connecticut.

Parents of children who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut expressed mixed feelings on Sunday about what should be done with the facility and its grounds following a December shooting rampage that killed 20 students and six staff members.

Speaking at the first of two “community conversations” on the fate of the school, parents and residents of the community discussed whether to return children to the school or demolish it and build a memorial on the grounds.

Frantic parents who arrived at the school following the December 14 shooting had been directed to a nearby firehouse to learn the fate of their children.

“Unless you were a parent of a Sandy Hook student that day and had to walk to that firehouse, you don’t know how we feel,” Christine Wilford, the mother of two children who survived the shooting, said during her turn at the microphones set up in an auditorium at nearby Newtown High School.

“On that day, I looked around and it was my Sandy Hook family,” said Wilford, who echoed what most parents said at the meeting, which was they wanted to hear what families said privately about the facility’s future before deciding her own preference.

The mass killings plunged Newtown, a rural New England town of 27,000 residents about 70 miles northeast of New York City, into grief, along with much of the rest of the nation.

The shootings prompted President Barack Obama to place Vice President Joe Biden at the head of a task force that will find ways to curb gun violence. Biden is due to submit the recommendations as early as Tuesday.

The vice president has said he will recommend universal background checks for gun buyers and new limits on the capacity of magazines like those used by the Connecticut gunman. Gun rights groups said on Sunday that these restrictions would fail in Congress.

The elementary school remains closed to everyone but police investigating the attack. Its students, more than 400 children in kindergarten through fourth grade, have been relocated to a school in the neighboring town of Monroe.

Newtown First Selectman Patricia Llodra told the audience that the final decision on the school’s fate will come only after months of discussions with other groups, including teachers who were there during the shooting and families that lost children.

“The process ahead of us will take months,” Llodra said. “But we need to bring our Sandy Hook students home.”

‘AN ABSOLUTE INJUSTICE’

Merim Bajraliu, a senior at the high school whose sister attended Sandy Hook, said knocking the school down only increases the damage caused by the gunman.

“Some of my best childhood memories were at Sandy Hook school,” Bajraliu said. “I don’t think a psychopath should take this away from us. Razing the school would be an absolute injustice to those whose lives were cut short that day.”

Several parents agreed with Bajraliu, saying their children are asking to return to the school.

And yet one father who asked not to be identified said his first grader has said he never wanted to step foot in the school again, nor does his wife. He asked that whatever decision is made about the school’s future, that families be given the opportunity to attend any other school in the district.

Despite the differences, most of the parents agreed not to separate the children from their classmates.

“You can’t divide those kids up. They’ve been through too much,” said Jodi Markowski, mother of a second grader. “It’s not too soon. I want them to know where they are going to school.”

Families who lost children in the massacre are scheduled to meet town officials in the upcoming weeks, Llodra said. She is also meeting with the affected teachers in the temporary school.

Authorities have not offered a motive for the attack. The gunman, Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother before driving to the school. He shot himself dead following the rampage.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.