ONE SUR­VIVOR’S DAD: I COULDN’T BREATHE’

Tragedy evokes hor­ror of New­town, Conn., shoot­ing

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By JOE DWINELL — joed@boston­her­ald.com

The mass shoot­ing at a Florida high school yes­ter­day brought Alissa Parker back to the dark day her 6-year-old daugh­ter, Em­i­lie, was killed in­side Sandy Hook El­e­men­tary School.

“There’s noth­ing worse than that day,” Parker told the Her­ald last night of the De­cem­ber 2012 mas­sacre in New­town, Conn., that left 26 dead, mostly first-graders, in­clud­ing her golden-haired lit­tle girl.

“There’s noth­ing sim­ple about it,” Parker said of school shoot­ings. “But we need to fo­cus ev­ery day on solv­ing this prob­lem.”

Parker said par­ents and of­fi­cials across the coun­try need to stop dwelling on poli­cies and help im­prove school safety first.

“We should re­ally fo­cus on putting re­sources where they re­ally count,” she said.

Parker said she’s ad­vo­cat­ing for better com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween par­ents, schools, first re­spon­ders and es­pe­cially stu­dents.

As co-founder of Safe­andSoundS­chools.org, a few key steps, she said, in­clude:

• Invit­ing first re­spon­ders to lo­cal schools to “col­lab­o­rate” on emer­gency plans;

• Work­ing with your school on help­ing with safety. “If you feel hope­less, be part of the so­lu­tion”;

• Cre­at­ing a cul­ture where you can “talk about” safety and con­cerns about school shoot­ings; • Stu­dents, she stressed, also need to take part. “Cre­ate a way to get them in­volved,” she said. “Let them know how their voices can be heard.” Kids some­times hear about po­ten­tial violence well be­fore adults.

Parker au­thored the book “An Un­seen An­gel,” in which she wrote about feel­ing the pres­ence of her daugh­ter. She tells about Em­i­lie “now grow­ing up in heaven.”

She also came to for­give the 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who killed her daugh­ter and the other in­no­cent chil­dren.

Last night she told the Her­ald she has since moved to Wash­ing­ton state, leaving Con­necti­cut be­hind.

Still, she urged any­one who cares about stop­ping gun violence to “take the en­ergy and fo­cus on some­thing pro­duc­tive.”

“We be­come numb. De­sen­si­tized. And in de­nial that we even have a prob­lem,” she said. “We want to be­lieve that we’ve done enough.

“The an­swers some­times are scary,” she added. “But we need to open our eyes and make changes in our schools.”

The kids are count­ing on it, she added. Work­ing to­ward a so­lu­tion, she stressed, can be “em­pow­er­ing.”

AP FILE PHO­TOS/NEW­TOWN BEE, SHAN­NON HICKS

PANIC IN CON­NECTI­CUT: Sandy Hook El­e­men­tary School stu­dents are es­corted from the build­ing after the Dec. 14, 2012, shoot­ing that left 26 dead.

ADAM LANZA

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