UPDATE: Community Copes With Tragedy Through Faith

By: Jennifer Rizzi, Lauren Schmoll Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi, Lauren Schmoll Email

UPDATE 12/16/2012 @10:15 p.m.

ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Communities are still trying to process the shooting tragedy in Newton, Connecticut that claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 children.

Church services Sunday afternoon provided a spiritual outlet for many to think, pray, and grieve as a group.

Kelly Casebolt attends service at Maranatha Fellowship Church in St. Albans every week, but this time the atmosphere was very different. The congregation joined together in solemnity to focus on healing.

"The biggest thing is the reality of it," Casebolt said. "It could happen anywhere. "My oldest is nine and I didn't tell her until 24 hours later...I needed to process what was going on."

Youth pastor Bobby Lemley believes maintaining a strong family atmosphere is the way to come out of these events feeling whole.

"The best thing you can do is bring the children together, the adults together, and the teens together," he said. "We believe that a part of combating fear is faith...if you have faith, it drives back fear."

Chad Harding attended the church service with his young daughters and agreed. "It gives our children a new outlook upon the Christmas season and how important it is to spend time with your family," he said.

Casebolt believes the tragedy sparing no emotional victims nationwide can bring communities together.

"There is always power in numbers," she said. "Where more of us are gathered together and praying about the situation, there's always power in that."


LESAGE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The shooting in Sandy Hook, Conn., was the talk of the parking lot Friday at Cox Landing Elementary, as parents and grandparents waited to pick up their kids.

For Richard Ferguson, Friday’s events are especially tragic. He knows the area where it all happened -- firsthand.

“Something you'd never expect to happen up in there,” Ferguson said. “You know, you can expect it like I say down in New York or out in L.A.”

For more than 40 years, Ferguson drove a truck through New England, often passing right through that part of Connecticut. He says it's a lot like home.

“Most of the people up there's about like the Lesage area,” Ferguson said. “They're just good people, you know. “

Deanne Ransbottom was picking up her kids, too. She said she's praying for the victims and says we can all learn from this tragedy.

“Keep our focus on God and our families,” Ransbottom said. “You just never know when our last minute is with our loved ones.”

Inside Cox Landing Elementary, the principal says hearing about the shooting gave her chills.

“How devastating that is,” Principal Kristin Giles said. “That's extremely devastating. And scary that it's at an elementary level.”

She says there's a huge focus on safety at Cox Landing.

“We are pretty locked down here,” Giles said. “All our doors are locked. All day long. We have swipe cards to get in, and there's buzzers for visitors to be able to come in.”

Ferguson says those safety measures make him feel like his grand kids are safe.

“It's sad that we have to have something like that, but it's the way it is, you know,” Ferguson said.

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