In the recent past, school violence has been identified as a serious problem in several countries, and the problem has been made worse in the incidents where guns and knives are involved. Generally, the violence involves fights between students, as well as physical fights carried out on school staff. One form of school violence which has received a lot of attention from the media, as well as the public, is school shootings. This arises from the fact that school shootings pose a serious threat to public safety, and the stakeholders have a reason to worry about that. In the last decade, one of the most deadly school shootings which remain etched in the memories of many people in the US is the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting. The unfortunate incident remains popular because it is the second-deadliest school shooting incident in the US history, after the Virginia Tech Incident which took place in 2007.
On December 14, 2012, everything looked normal at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. In line with the school’s security system, the school’s doors were locked at 9:30 A.M and classes got underway. None of the 700 students present in school had any idea that Adam Lanza was on the way to the school. Adam Lanza is the 20-year-old gunman, who later killed 26 people in the school. Investigations revealed that Adam Lanza had earlier killed his mother, Nancy, and grabbed three guns before heading to the elementary school.
The gunman found the school’s gate locked when he arrived. He forced his way using “an assault weapon”, and headed straight into the hallway. Inside the school compound, Principal Dawn Hochsprung was holed in a meeting with faculty members. On hearing the loud pops, the principal, accompanied by school psychologist Mary Sherlach and lead teacher Natalie Hammond, went out to investigate. In the melee that ensued, the gunman shot and killed the school principal and the school psychologist. Only Ms. Hammond made it back to the meeting room. However, she was hit on the leg and later treated for injuries.
At this point, Lanza headed to the first graders and the kindergartens classrooms. Inside the first-grade classroom, teacher Lauren Rousseau was shot dead together with most of her students. Only one girl in the class made it alive. In the next classroom, teacher Victoria Soto was busy hiding the kids under the desks and inside the closet. As she turned to lock the classroom’s door, Lanza entered the classroom. As he went into the back of the class, he discovered the children under the desks and shot them. Some of the children managed to run out of the classroom. The teacher was shot dead as she tried to protect the children. Nonetheless, eleven children from the class managed to escape alive.
Frantic efforts were made to reach 9-1-1, and the call came through at approximately 9.30 AM. Newton police department dispatched officers into the scene almost immediately. Later, Connecticut State Police together with the Newton police mobilized tactical units, and a state Police helicopter. The police locked down the school, and evacuation began immediately. The authorities reported that no shots were fired from their side. When Lanza realized help was on the way, he removed a hand gun and shot himself. Danbury Hospital medical personnel assisted in treating the victims.
Among the patients evacuated to the hospital, three were fatally wounded and did not survive. The authorities also received help from the New York City portable morgue. Later that night, the bodies of the victims were removed from the school and formally indentified. A total of twenty students died from that fatal incident, together with six adults. A review of the Sandy Hook Elementary School incident reveals the following facts.
All the victims were shot with a rifle, and many of them were shot more than once. Some of the victims were shot up close, and had no chance of survival. It can also be revealed that all the adults killed were women. Among the twenty children killed, eight were boys, while 12 were girls. The children were in the ages of six and seven years. As mentioned earlier, the offender was Adam Lanza, a boy described as bright, but without close friends. An high school instructor who had had observed Lanza at the high school technology club revealed that the boy did not seem to feel pain, unlike the other students within the club. The teacher also noted that Lanza occasionally completely withdrew from his surroundings. Other sources close to Lanza revealed that the boy liked to play video military games.
Although there some reports indicating that the boy’s mother used to work in the school, this information has not yet been independently verified. It is also believed that Adam Lanza schooled at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Nonetheless, the real motive of the attack has not yet been determined. As the federal authorities carried out their investigations, there was no evidence that the young Adam Lanza trained for the attack or participated in the recreational gun community. Nonetheless, the incident gave the gun-control proponents some ammunition to push for gun control.
Police response did not end with on-site investigations, and off-site investigations were carried out to determine the motive of the attack. Evaluation of the gunman’s body revealed that he did not have any tumors, and had not suffered any brain deformities. The gunman had also smashed his hard drive, and this somehow complicated the course of the investigation. Leaks from the investigation revealed that Lanza may have extensively studied other shootings carried out in other parts of the world, and taken time to practice at their basement where he usually spent most of his time.
After the shooting incident, the school was closed indefinitely, and the school administration took its students to the Chalk Hill Middle School. The state also introduced new legislation to restrict the media from accessing public information, following lots of requests to the town clerk’s office. The task force appointed to come up with a strategic plan approved the demolition of the Sandy Hook Elementary School and build another school in its place. The plan awaits the approval of the Newton Board of Education, and a public cote thereafter. Recently, the state’s Senate and the House of Representatives passed legislation to modify the Freedom of Information Act, and this will prevent the spread of the crime scene videos and photos because it will be in violation of the surviving victims and their family members. Nonetheless, the Sandy Elementary School Shooting incident still remains one of the most fatal in the US history, and highlights the vulnerability of both the students and the staff in schools. It is one of the incidents which will take time for the surviving victims, family members, and the community to heal.
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