Tag Archive | "Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting"


Gov. Lamont Directs Flag Lowered for Sandy Hook Victims

HARTFORD — Seven years ago, the world witnessed one of the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history.

A 20-year-old named Adam Lanza shot and killed twenty children and six adults, including his mother, in the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. His weapon of choice were a Bushmaster XM15 and a Glock 20SF. Before driving to the school, Lanza killed his mother at their Newtown home. After the shooting, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head, police said.

On Friday, Gov. Ned Lamont announced that he is directing U.S. and State of Connecticut flags to be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, Dec. 14 in remembrance of the victims.

Nelba Marquez, Ana Márquez-Greene , and Jimmy Greene

Accordingly, since no flag should fly higher than the U.S. flag, all other flags – including state, municipal, corporate, or otherwise – should also be lowered during this same duration of time.

“We will never forget the twenty innocent, gentle children and six devoted educators whose lives were taken all too soon that terrible morning seven years ago,” Lamont said. “The tragedy that occurred that day is one of the worst in our history, but in its aftermath, we witnessed an unprecedented outpouring of humanity, hope, and kindness cascading into our state from over the entire world, spreading a message of love that we must proactively protect.”

One of the victims, six-year-old Ana Márquez-Greene, was the daughter of former Hartford residents: Nelba Marquez and Jimmy Greene.

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz also shared condolences the families of the victims.

“Seven years ago, Connecticut was forever changed when 26 innocent people—six courageous educators and twenty loving children—were taken from their families and friends far too soon,” Bysiewicz said. “We will never forget the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting and today we send the love and prayers of the state to the Newtown community as it continues to heal from this painful wound.”

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Sandy Hook Families Ask Court to Reconsider

HARTFORD – The families of nine Sandy Hook victims and one of the survivors today asked the Connecticut Supreme Court to hear their appeal after the case was struck down last month by a Superior Court judge in Bridgeport.

Describing the Newtown shooting as a “singular event in Connecticut history,” the families’ appeal argues that the state’s highest court should decide whether the sellers of the weapon used in the shooting can be held accountable under Connecticut law.

As the appeal says, “the loss of twenty first-graders and six educators would shake any community to its core,” the appeal papers state.  “Ours had to grapple with the manner in which those lives were lost,” the appeals says. “… It is only appropriate that Connecticut’s highest court decide whether these families have the right to proceed.”

The families’ appeal asks the Supreme Court to consider the scope of the common law of negligent entrustment in Connecticut – which has not been discussed in the state’s appellate courts in nearly a century – and its application to circumstances and technology that could not have been contemplated when the cause of action was first recognized.

When Judge Barbara Bellis dismissed the case last month, her opinion stated that she was bound by two appellate court rulings from 2005 and 2006 that require plaintiffs to establish a business relationship with the defendants in order to bring a CUTPA claim.

“Nothing will ever bring back my son, Dylan, or the other lives stolen from us on that awful day,” said Nicole Hockley, whose son, Dylan, was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting.  “Our only goal in bringing this appeal is to help prevent the next Sandy Hook from happening and we have faith that Connecticut’s Supreme Court will take up what is literally a matter of life and death.”

“As a father who lost a bright and shining child, all we ask is for our day in court to address the negligence of these companies,” said David Wheeler, whose son, Benjamin, was also killed in the Sandy Hook shooting.

As the families’ case makes clear, the AR-15 is a killing machine designed as a military weapon to inflict mass carnage. It can unleash 30 rounds in under 10 seconds and can penetrate body armor.  It has exceptional muzzle velocity, making each hit lethal, and its large capacity magazines allow for rapid-fire, prolonged assaults.

It was built for warfare and has been the military’s weapon of choice for 50 years because of its efficiency as a mass casualty weapon.  When entrusted to the military, the AR-15 requires more than 100 hours of training and is subject to strict protocols on safety and storage.

Still, the weapons’ sellers, including Remington, made a calculated decision to aggressively market and sell the AR-15 to the public, knowing that the necessary structure and oversight found in the military was utterly lacking.  That carefully executed marketing campaign, which continues today, has made the AR-15 the weapon of choice for mass murderers. Indeed, it has been used in massacres at San Bernardino, Aurora and several other preventable tragedies.

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Hartford Schools Receive School Safety Grant

hartford-public-schoolsHARTFORD —  Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s on Monday announced that 13 Hartford schools would receive $500,000 under the School Security Grant Program, part of the Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety Act approved by the legislature earlier this year.

Hartford applied for the state funds through the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. Eligible projects under the program include the installation of surveillance cameras, bulletproof glass, electric locks, buzzer and card entry systems, and panic alarms.

The announcement comes close the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 15, 2013. On that day, Adam Lanza entered the school, killed 20 children and teachers and then himself, police said. He also killed his mother earlier that day. The incident drew international media attention, and many ponder school safety  issues as well asgun control laws to disallow easy access to assault weapons.

Hartford schools, though not known for shooting rampages, also need to address school safety issues, officials said.

The city’s delegation to the House of Representatives, Angel Arce, Minnie Gonzalez, Douglas McCrory, Rep.Brandon L. McGee Jr., Matt Ritter and Edwin Vargas, said they were pleased that the city will receive money  to help defray costs associated with upgrading school security infrastructure at its schools.

“This is part of the overall effort to prevent a tragedy such as happened in Sandy Hook from happening in our heavily populated City of Hartford,” Gonzalez said. “The first step to improving safety is making our buildings more difficult to access and these funds will go a long way toward that.”

The funding, they said, “will strengthen the infrastructure and better protect students and staff.”

“Our kids need to be safe, and more importantly feel safe, while they are attending school,” McCrory said. “This is a worthwhile investment by the city and the state and I am glad to see them recognizing that certain upgrades are needed.”

This is the second round of school security grants to be announced in the last few months. Another round of grants is expected to be announced soon, state officials said.

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Mental Illness Is Not the Root of Violence, Sandy Hook Shooting

By Stephen A. Kichuk, Op-Ed Contributor

The recent tragedy at Sandy Hook has served to rocket the issue of mental health into the forefront of public consciousness.

While debates rage over the causes of this event, many have asserted that it was “mental illness” that spurred such violence. Many further asserted
that it is mental illness that is at the root of much violence in society at large, and that it needs to be addressed on a wide scale.
While it is encouraging that many may be taking mental health matters more seriously, and that more attention may be put into mental healthcare, it is concerning that these assertions are rooted in misperception, and will quite possibly have the effect of increasing the burden of stigma. This can in turn affect outcomes of those suffering from mental illness

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionThe American Psychiatric Association officially recognizes several hundred mental disorders (“mental illnesses”). A problem though, with
terms like “mental disorder” or “mental illness” is that they are inherently vague terms that, in themselves, mean little. The common
use of such vague terms, with the hundreds of diagnoses possible, fails to offer anything towards the understanding of specific situations. It also has the effect of lumping every person with any of those conditions together, no matter how disparate those conditions may be. This can be far-reaching in its effects, providing fertile ground for misperception and stigma.

Researchers have concluded that public fears regarding mental illness are out of proportion to reality. While there are many factors to
consider, and their relationships complex, research indicates that factors that prompt a person with mental illness to violence are
similar to those that prompt someone without mental illness to violence. Simply put, the presence of a mental illness in an offender
doesn’t mean that illness had anything to do with any violent acts committed. Even further, research has found that those with mental
illness are more likely to be victims of violence, rather than perpetrators.

This research has demonstrated that the frequent media portrayals and commonplace claims of mental illness as a leading cause of violence are simply not accurate. Out of the hundreds of mental disorders, there are only a few that are reliably linked to violence. It is important though, that if there are violent acts committed by someone with one of these conditions, then any discussion should use the specific name of the condition, rather then using the blanket term of “mental illness.” Using a blanket term makes inaccurate associations between those few conditions that are reliably linked to
violence with those many that aren’t, transferring the effects of stigma.

Additionally, any use of specific terms should be grounded in an understanding of those terms. Suggestions that the perpetrator of the
Sandy Hook incident had Asperger’s disorder, and that this was a causal factor in such violence, clearly demonstrate a lack of understanding, as violence is not inherent to Asperger’s.

mental-health-guardianWhile acts are committed which cause many to conclude the perpetrator “wasn’t right in the head,” that doesn’t mean it was a mental illness
that was the cause, or even that it was present. Mental illnesses are specifically defined constructs, and labeling something as “mental illness,” without a solid grasp of those constructs, distorts public perception. Perhaps at least partially as a result, the term “mental illness” appears linked to public perceptions of dangerousness, and must be addressed, as it has important social effects. It matters how these discussions are framed. Unfortunately, much of the talk presently going on in the wake of the Sandy Hook incident may further embed misperceptions of mental illness and violence into the collective conscious.

While calls for greater emphasis on mental healthcare are welcome and long overdue, couching those calls in the horror of that awful event stands a strong chance of deepening many of the problems facing good people who happen to be suffering from mental health problems, and those people seeking to help them.

Stephen A. Kichuk is a graduate student and researcher in the mental health field.

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Newtown to Hold MLK Worship Service

NEWTOWN — Now settling into a “new normal” after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, Newtown residents will gather on Jan. 20 for a community worship service featuring the Rev. Dr. James Forbes, an internationally-recognized preacher and leader.

Sponsored by the Newtown Congregational and Newtown United Methodist churches, the community worship service will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West Street in Newtown.

The event is being held on the weekend the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is commemorated around the United States. It is also taking place a day before the inauguration of President Barack Obama for a second term in Washington, D.C.

“It is fitting, on this weekend, when our nation honors the service and sacrifice of Dr. King, that we gather in worship to honor the service and sacrifice of the persons, who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy,” said the Rev. Matt Rev. Crebbin, senior pastor at Newtown Congregational Church.

“Worshipping as a community grounded in faith serves an important catalyst in our healing, and as we adjust to the new normal in how we live,” said the Rev. Mel Kawakami, pastor of Newtown United Methodist Church.

Newsweek magazine recognized Dr. Forbes as one of the 12 most effective preachers in the English-speaking world. He is senior minister emeritus of historic Riverside Church in New York City, and is president and founder of The Healing of the Nations Foundation. The foundation seeks to broaden the awareness of the connections between physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and community health.

The public worship service will follow an afternoon seminar that Dr. Forbes is conducting for Newtown area clergy. He will focus on equipping clergy with spiritual tools to help in healing and moving forward in the Newtown area.

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