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Reflections from people close to Newtown tragedy

  • Article by: The Associated Press
  • Associated Press
  • December 10, 2013 - 5:40 AM

Reflections from people connected to the shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 first-graders and six educators died.

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JEREMY RICHMAN

The father of a 6-year-old girl killed in the shooting, Richman and his wife, Jennifer Hensel, have been trying to rebuild their lives without their only child, Avielle, as they juggle their jobs and a foundation they started in their daughter's memory. The Avielle Foundation is dedicated to preventing violence through a better understanding of brain health.

"I don't get a lot of sleep and I work a lot, but I'm committed. There's the Nietzsche quote: Those that have the 'why' can endure any 'how.' Avielle used to be my 'why.' It didn't matter what else I did in life as long as Jen and myself were raising a happy, healthy kid. And we don't have that. So now my 'why' is something else, and I have to endure the 'hows.'"

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FIRST SELECTMAN E. PATRICIA LLODRA

Llodra, Newtown's top elected official, said she still breaks down occasionally when talking with others privately about the tragedy, but she resolved on the day of the shooting not to give in to her emotions.

"I could not allow myself to fall apart because there were things to be done. I had to model for others the behaviors that said, 'I'm not going to be destroyed by this horrible thing. I'm going to lead,'" she said.

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THE REV. ROBERT WEISS

Weiss, the pastor of Newtown's St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic church, officiated at funerals for eight of the children killed at Sandy Hook. He said he hopes the tragedy leads to changes in what he sees as the overwhelming amount of violence in American society.

"I just can't even fathom how 26 good, innocent people's lives can be taken and it doesn't change the hearts of this country," he said. "Everywhere I've been, people still cry. They still cry. I still cry. It's just not right. Hopefully, this will at least change some hearts about, 'Man, we've got to do something to be better. We've got to do something to make this a better place.'"

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POLICE CHIEF MICHAEL KEHOE

The leader of the Newtown Police Department was among the officers who responded to the shooting. In the weeks that followed, he worked long hours as the department kept watch over a jittery town and helped coordinate an outpouring of help and donations, including flags from overseas military bases that were given to the town and still fly at the police building.

"We were just thankful people were so concerned about our welfare," he said. "You only expect great nice things to happen periodically, and they were happening in rapid succession. The generosity was overwhelming."

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