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Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary

Aired December 17, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years, and each time I learn the news, I react not as a president, but as anybody else would, as a parent. And that was especially true today.


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama speaking last Friday about a shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. We`re going to be focusing exclusively on that story today.

There are a lot of questions about what happened on Friday. Right now, there aren`t very many answers. As people struggle to understand this tragedy, they are mourning the victims who lost their lives and looking for ways to honor those victims and support their families.

President Obama ordered the flag at the U.S. Capitol building and at all U.S. Government buildings to be lowered to half-staff on Friday. Governors across the country asked for flags in their states to be lowered as well. Messages of sympathy for the shooting victims came in from all over the world. A lot of people shared similar thoughts on social media.

In the community of Newtown where this happened, services and candle-light vigils like this one had been going on since Friday night. There has been an emotional reaction to the shooting, as you might expect, and you could see some of that emotion from President Obama when he talked about it on Friday.


OBAMA: I know there is not a parent in America who doesn`t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do. The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them - birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams. So our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost.


AZUZ: 26 people from Sandy Hook elementary were killed on Friday. Earlier this year, the principal put in a new security system. It locks the doors at 9:30, and it requires visitors to be identified and then buzzed in. Officials say the alleged shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, used a gun to force his way into the building, a gun authorities say belonged to his mother, whom he`s also accused of shooting.

Around 9:30 Friday morning, witnesses reported hearing gunshots inside Sandy Hook elementary. Police say the gunman opened fire in two classrooms after killing the principal and school psychologist in the hallway. Officials said the shooter eventually took his own life. The attack claimed the lives of 20 students, all 6- or 7-year-olds, and six adults, and left the community of Newtown, Connecticut in shock.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just a tragic, tragic situation for the teachers, the principals, and those angels, that`s all I keep thinking about is those angels.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When things happen to your children, and to other people`s children, I can`t look at my children`s faces now without seeing the faces of every one of their schoolmates.


AZUZ: The shooting at Sandy Hook elementary is a story of violence and tragedy. It`s also a story of heroism. Certainly the police and emergency workers who responded to this attack, but especially the teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook and their actions last Friday. When one kindergarten teacher heard shots, she locked her classroom door, took her students to a safe area in the back of the room, and read to them in order to keep them calm. A first-grade teacher ushered her students into the class bathroom and then keep them there until the police came to evacuate them. Another first-grade teacher moved her students into a corner away from the door. When the gunman came into the room, the teacher stood in front of the students, protecting them while sacrificing her life.


GOV. DANNEL MALLOY, D-CONNECTICUT: In this time of troubles and travails, when the unthinkable happens in our very midst, our faith is tested. Not just in the religious sense, not just necessarily our faith in God, but our faith in community and who we are and what we collectively are. And it`s in so many ways permissible to have those thoughts and those doubts about who we are and what we are and what community represents, but then we turn to understand, as we turn around this room, and recognizes our friends and our neighbors, those we have done things for and those who have done things for us. This is a great and beautiful community, located in a great and beautiful state and a great and beautiful nation.


AZUZ: There are a number of organizations that are working to help the community of Newtown. Some are fund raising, some are offering counseling and other services to families. Some are collecting messages of support. CNN has a list of several of these organizations as part of our impact your world program. It offers some ideas on how you cane make a difference to those in need. You`ll find the link in the spotlight section at We also have a blog posted at, where you can talk about this if you`d like.

From those of your viewers on Facebook, here are a few of the comments posted yesterday afternoon. From Tessa, "The country needs to come together to help the families that were hurt and affected by the shooting. We need to put the focus on them and helping them recover, put the focus on prayer and recovery."

From Kate, "these precious angels will forever be missed and never forgotten."

From Carlos, "when will things like this ever stop?"

From Seth, "This is a horrible tragedy, but we must now begin to heal and ensure that something like this never happens again."

From Kelsey, "I`m proud of all the brave teachers who risked their lives to save those poor little kids."

From Chris, who is a teacher. "No student or teacher should have to fear going to school. My heart goes out to everyone in that community."

And from Alicia, "I think the whole nation`s thoughts, prayers and love should go straight to the families affected by this tragedy." Alicia, I could not agree more. I join everyone who is praying for this community and for all of you around the world who`ve been affected by this. We know many of you still have a lot of questions. We have a lot of questions. But we`ll continue searching for answers in the days ahead.