Quiet Connecticut town rocked by mass school shooting

Connecticut shooting

ILLUSIONS OF SAFETY SHATTERED

Local churches quickly organized evening memorial services to help residents cope with the trauma that shattered their illusions of safety and made their town the focus of extensive national and international media coverage.

"I don't think you are safe anywhere," said Lori Amaral, who lives about 1/4 mile from the school. She added that her college-age daughter and her friends were afraid even to go out to the vigil.

"They are afraid to go anywhere," Amaral said.

John Hess was at the airport in Cleveland on Friday morning when his wife, Patty, called him to tell him about the shooting. He immediately hopped a plane home to Newtown, where his family moved recently from nearby Stamford.

"We moved here because we thought it would be a safe community," Hess said.

Parents of children at the school for kindergarten-to-fourth-grade students gathered at a fire station down the street from the school building to await news of their children.

Helicopters hovered over the school building and scores of cars were parked on lawns up and down the street, reflecting the hurried response of police, parents and officials after the shooting took place around 9:30 a.m. local time (1430 GMT).

"Everybody was crying," said Alexis Wasik, 8, a third-grader who was in the school when the shooting began. "I was a little scared and felt sick to my stomach."

Friday's attack was the deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. school since a 2007 attack at Virginia Tech University left 32 people dead.

"I am still in a daze," said Alexis' mother, Lynn. "My heart is in a million pieces for the children."

Juanita Hall, a school counselor in Ridgefield, Connecticut, whose daughter attends a nearby school, said it would take time for the residents to recover from the shock.

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