ONE SURVIVOR’S DAD: I COULDN’T BREATHE’
Tragedy evokes horror of Newtown, Conn., shooting
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.”
PANIC IN CONNECTICUT: Sandy Hook Elementary School students are escorted from the building after the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting that left 26 dead.