As horrifying details continue to emerge, here’s footage of President Obama addressing today’s elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which is just 40 miles or so west of Middletown. Continuing updates on the tragedy appear here.
In the brief remarks, Obama says that he addressed the tragedy not as president, but “as a parent.” “Our hearts are broken today,” the president says, pausing to pull himself together. “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.” He appears to choke up at various points in the video.
“We’re going to have to take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” the president continues, but he doesn’t address gun control in any specific way. The full text of Obama’s remarks appears here, via The Atlantic Wire.
Newtown is a short drive from Wesleyan, so it’s no surprise that the Middletown community is particularly shaken by the shooting. Like many WesKids, I’ve driven through Newtown countless times on I-84 to get to Wes. I’ve stopped and had lunch at the town’s Blue Colony Diner. I’ve had professors who live in the town. According to Middletown Patch, Middletown Superintendent of Schools Patricia Charles has sent a letter to Middletown parents promising to redouble efforts to keep children safe in Middletown schools:
Our school counselors will be ready to respond on Monday morning should any of our students be close to any family affected by this tragedy or if children need to talk about any concerns.
I’m certain that your hearts are filled with sympathy for the families and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary. We will redouble our efforts to try to prevent such an occurrence from happening in our schools.
Meanwhile, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy ordered U.S. and Connecticut flags to half-staff in recognition of the victims.
— Governor Dan Malloy (@GovMalloyOffice) December 14, 2012
Governor Malloy also held news conference at 3:30 pm at Treadwell Park in Newtown, though I’m not sure if there’s video online yet. Major news networks like CNN and NBC are airing interviews with the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School, and many viewers are questioning the morality of doing so.
On Facebook, the Patch is wondering if there will be any candlelight vigils in Middletown tonight for the victims. I hope that there will be.
5:45PM UPDATE by Syed: President Michael Roth just sent an email to the campus community, echoing Obama and acknowledging that “Our Hearts are Broken Today”:
Today we heard the shattering news of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Shock, horror, and deep sadness overwhelm us as we contemplate this terrifying event. The Wesleyan family sends condolences and sympathy to all those who are suffering tonight in the wake of the shooting. President Obama spoke for many of us when he said, “Our hearts are broken today.” May compassion and a will to prevent these awful occurrences be inspired by our grief.
There will be a vigil at 6:15PM at the Bayit tonight, open to all members of the Wesleyan community.