UPDATE: Schools Faced Challenging Day Following Shootings

By: The Associated Press, NBC News, WSAZ News Staff Email
By: The Associated Press, NBC News, WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 12/17/12 @ 11:35 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Amber Blevins' two little boys are always full of energy and eager to go to school at Elk Center Elementary. But Monday morning, she had a hard time seeing them leave.

"I just want to keep them at home with me," she said.

Blevins is just one of the many parents still feeling the shock and pain from the senseless school shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people lost their lives -- including 20 children.

The tragedy has made parents rethink their daily trip to school, along with the talks they have at home.

"If something like that did happen, I told them to hide and don't come out for anybody," Blevins said."I don't know if you can really prepare a 6-year old, but I try."

Sherry Wills is in charge of after-school care at Elk Center and says she came to work Monday with emergency plans at the top of her mind.

"My office doesn't have any windows, so we would go in there," she said. "Or I was thinking we could go in the bathroom and get them into the bathtub and all just huddle around."

Parents told WSAZ.com they hope schools will do all in their power to step up security measures.

"I'm not even opposed to having a guard at every school," mom Susan Rose said.

But most acknowledged that precautions never come with guarantees and say they'll never take family time for granted.

"Make sure you love your children every night before they go to bed and pray for them," Rose said. "You know, in this world you never know what's going to happen."

Experts say it's important to teach your kids about a family emergency plan, no matter how young they might be.



UPDATE 12/17/12 @ 4 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Teachers and staff at schools across the area, and the nation, knew they had a challenge on their hands going into Monday morning.

At Montrose Elementary in South Charleston, they were prepared.

"The teachers aren't bringing it up directly. Many of the classrooms today the children are asking questions and then the teachers are kind of going from that point," said Julie Hedge, principal at Montrose Elementary.

The difficulty was in judging what the kids already know, what they’ve seen and what they’ve heard.

"I've seen many things today -- I've seen children that are a little unsure, questioning and I've also seen children that are unaware of anything. I mean, it's going from one extreme to the other," said Hedge.

"The little children probably do not need to hear about this, we're not sure what the parents want them to know, and so we're trying to be sensitive to that. I personally have a 5 year old that I don't want really just being bombarded with all that information,” said Rita Altizer, counselor at Montrose Elementary.

So teachers are letting the students themselves bring the questions to the front of the class and then steer it from there.

"The children are reminded about how to be safe, how to protect themselves at school, what we do as a school to keep them safe and to not be concerned about that happening here and why," Hedge said.

And they are turning the questions they face into a learning opportunity.

Schools across the Tri-State are thinking about their own safety drills and "lock-down" procedures in the wake of Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

The event Friday prompted a lock-down drill at Fallsburg Elementary School in Lawrence County Kentucky Monday morning.

According to the district superintendent, Mr. Armstrong, the drill went well; though he said he wishes it was an activity they never had to practice.

Armstrong says that the schools in the district are obligated by its local policy to do one drill per-semester. He says that practice is modeled after the Kentucky School Board Authority.

Armstrong said he also made sure that his central office staff was visible all all school buildings Monday as students came into the buildings.

The same was true for leaders at Ironton City Schools in Ohio. William M. Dressel Curriculum & Federal Programs said the day went on as usual but staff was on heightened-alert Monday.

Dressel said that lock-down drills are practiced at least one-time a month.

In Logan County West Virginia there is no county-wide directive when it comes to the number of times drills are practiced each month. At a meeting with district principals Monday afternoon, Superintendent Wilma Sigmund said in addition to reiterating awareness of the policies already in place they would discuss the option of implementing something throughout the county.

The Ashland Independent School District practices two lock-down drills per year. Lisa Henson is the director of Student Services who says that a federal grant has given the district the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with law enforcement when it comes to school safety. Henson says once drills are complete they are able do to a debrief with members of the Ashland Police Department. Police presence was also beefed-up at AIS on Monday morning.

In addition to sending home informational packets to parents, district leaders sent home information on the appropriate way to talk with children about the shootings.



UPDATE 12/17/12 @ 10 p.m.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- A mournful President Barack Obama said Sunday that the nation is failing to keep its children safe, pledging that change must come after an elementary-school massacre left 20 children dead.

"What choice do we have?" Obama said. "Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?"

In a vigil for the fallen, in a moment of grief that spread around the world, Obama conceded that none of his words would match the sorrow. But he declared to the community of Newtown: "You are not alone."

The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday elicited horror around the world, ignited fresh political debate about gun control and questions about what drove the suspect to act.

Privately, Obama told Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy that Friday was the most difficult day of his presidency.

State Police Lt. Paul Vance also said Sunday that authorities have publicly identified the gunman in the school rampage as Adam Lanza.

They say his mother, Nancy, as was one of his victims.

Vance also detailed the guns found at the school. He says Lanza had two handguns, a Glock 10 mm and a Sig Sauer 9 mm, and a Bushmaster assault rifle that was used for nearly all his killings.

26 people in total were killed in the shooting



UPDATE 12/16/12 @ 4:50 p.m.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut state police say multiple 30-round magazines and hundreds of bullets found at elementary school where 26 were killed.

State Police Lt. Paul Vance also said Sunday that authorities have publicly identified the gunman in the school rampage as Adam Lanza.

They say his mother, Nancy, as was one of his victims.

Vance also detailed the guns found at the school. He says Lanza had two handguns, a Glock 10 mm and a Sig Sauer 9 mm, and a Bushmaster assault rifle that was used for nearly all his killings.

The Bushmaster is a type of gun commonly seen at competitions and was the type used in the 2002 sniper killings in the Washington area.

A fourth weapon, a shotgun, was found in the car Lanza drove to the school.



UPDATE 12/15/12 @ 7:50 p.m.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- The father of the gunman in the Connecticut school rampage says his family is saddened and struggling to make sense of what happened.

Peter Lanza says in a statement released late Saturday that "our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy."

Investigators are trying to learn more about Lanza's son, 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza, who gunned down 26 people including 20 children at a Newtown elementary school.

They've questioned his older brother, who's not believed to have been involved in the rampage.

Peter Lanza says "no words can truly express how heartbroken we are" and that relatives are "in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can."

Keep clicking WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 12/14/12 @ 10:15 p.m.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- Officials are identifying the principal as one of the victims in the Connecticut elementary school rampage.

Gerald Stomski is the first selectman of Woodbury, Conn. He says police told him that Sandy Hook Elementary Principal Dawn Hochsprung was among the 26 people the gunman shot to death at the school Friday.

He says she was a principal in Woodbury until a few years ago. He says residents were mourning her death.

Stomski says she had "an extremely likable style."

Hochsprung had been principal at Sandy Hook Elementary since 2010. Hochsprung had frequently tweeted photos from her job and wrote upbeat tweets about what was going on at the school.

More hauntingly, several publications report she wrote a letter before the school year outlining new safety measures including locked doors during school hours.



UPDATE 12/14/12 @ 9 p.m.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- Hundreds of people are packing a church and spilling outside in Connecticut to remember the victims of a shooting that killed 26 people at an elementary school.

With the church filled to capacity, hundreds of people stood outside Friday night at the St. Rose of Lima church in Newtown, some of them holding hands in circles and saying prayers. Others lit candles and sang "Silent Night."

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is among the speakers.

Anthony Bloss, whose three daughters survived the shooting, says they heard gunshots but they are not talking much about the shooting. He says he feels completely numb.

Tracy Hoekenga says she wanted to come to the vigil because she is struggling with many emotions. Her two boys survived the shooting.

Twenty young kids died in the shooting.



UPDATE 12/14/12 @ 5:45 p.m.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- Schoolchildren and their parents are describing the scene at a Connecticut elementary school today, as teachers locked doors and ordered the children to huddle in the corner or hide in closets.

Shots rang through the building, as a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children.

A law enforcement official says the suspect in the Connecticut school shootings is 20-year-old Adam Lanza, the son of a teacher at the school where the shootings occurred. A second law enforcement official says the boy's mother, Nancy Lanza, is presumed

The first official says Adam Lanza's older brother, 24-year-old Ryan, of Hoboken, N.J., is being questioned by police. An earlier report from a law enforcement official mistakenly transposed the brothers' first names.

One man says his 6-year-old son was in class when the gunman burst in and shot the teacher. He says his son "grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door."

The father of one 7-year-old says the boy heard a noise that sounded like "cans falling." A teacher went out to check on the noise, came back in, locked the door, and had the kids huddle in the corner until police arrived.

A teenager who rushed to the school to check on his sister, after hearing the gunfire from his nearby home, says the 9-year-old girl had heard a scream come over the intercom at one point.

As they left the school, the children -- some crying, others looking frightened -- were told by police to close their eyes, so they wouldn't see the carnage around them.

As a father, President Barack Obama says, he's grieving for the victims of today's school shooting in Connecticut.

His remarks to the nation from the White House today were emotional ones, as Obama wiped his eyes and had to pause for several seconds to keep his composure.

He said, "Our hearts are broken today." Obama said the victims were "beautiful, little kids" who "had their entire lives ahead of them" -- and he recited future milestones lost: "birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own."

Obama called for "meaningful action" to prevent such shootings, but he did not say what that action should be. He ordered U.S. flags be flown at half-staff through Tuesday.

As he spoke, two senior aides standing nearby cried and held hands.

Obama, who began his comments with no greeting, ended them with words of Scripture, and walked away in silence.

In accordance with the presidential proclamation issued Friday afternoon, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered all U.S. and state flags at all state facilities be displayed at half-staff immediately as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence which took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Flags will remain at half-staff until sunset, December 18, 2012.

Friday, Gov. Tomblin issued the following statement:

"As parents, Joanne and I are deeply saddened today by the news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This is a tragic and senseless act. We ask all West Virginians to keep these families and this community in your thoughts and prayers during the very difficult days ahead."



UPDATE 12/14/12 @ 4:18 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A law enforcement official says the suspect in the Connecticut school shootings is 20-year-old Adam Lanza, the son of a teacher at the school where the shootings occurred. A second law enforcement official says the boy's mother, Nancy Lanza, is presumed dead.

The first official says Adam Lanza's older brother, 24-year-old Ryan, of Hoboken, N.J., is being questioned by police. An earlier report from a law enforcement official mistakenly transposed the brothers' first names.

Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the developing criminal investigation.

The first official said Adam Lanza is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.



UPDATE 12/14/12 @ 1 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A law enforcement official says the suspect in the Connecticut school shootings is 24-year-old Ryan Lanza and that his younger brother is being held for questioning as a possible second shooter. The law enforcement official says the boys' mother, Nancy Lanza, works at the school as a teacher.

The official also said Ryan Lanza's girlfriend and another friend are missing in New Jersey.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the suspect is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the source was not authorized to speak on the record about the developing criminal investigation.



UPDATE 12/14/12 @ 1 p.m.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (WSAZ) -- NBC News is reporting that 18 children and 8 adults were killed in a shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

The shooting happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in western Connecticut.

Reports say the gunman was killed. NBC also reports that second person has been detained.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued the following statement regarding the tragedy that took place at a Connecticut elementary school this morning.

"As parents, Joanne and I are deeply saddened today by the news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This is a tragic and senseless act. We ask all West Virginians to keep these families and this community in your thoughts and prayers during the very difficult days ahead."

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY 12/14/12
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP & NBC) -- An official with knowledge of the situation says a gunman at the center of a school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has been killed.

The official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way says the man apparently had two guns.

NBC News is reporting that at least 20 students have been shot after the alleged gunman burst into the school.

A dispatcher at the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps says a teacher has been shot in the foot and taken to Danbury Hospital, but it's unclear whether there are other injuries.

Ambulance surrounded Sandy Hook Elementary School in western Connecticut and parents were running toward the building as a helicopter flew overhead.

The superintendent's office says the district has locked down schools.

State police say Newtown police called them at about 9:40 a.m. about the shooting reports.

Newton is located about 45 miles southwest of Hartford and 60 miles northwest of New York City.

The school has about 600 students in grades K-4.


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