Robert Parker addressed the media outside of the Sandy Hook firehouse in Newtown. His daughter, Emilie, 6, was one of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
CNN carried the comments live.
Parker, sighing and struggling to hold back tears, expressed sympathy to the other families, including the shooter’s family. He said he hopes the shooting isn’t something that “defines us,” but instead something that inspires other to be better, more compassionate and more humble.
“We find comfort in reflecting on what an incredible person Emilie was and how many lives she was able to touch in her short time on Earth,” said Parker, who is a physicians assistant at Danbury Hospital. “She was bright, creative and always willing to try new things, except food.”
Parker, 30, said his daughter was “an exceptional artist,” who carried around art supplies so that she could draw cards to comfort people.
“I can’t count the number of times Emilie saw someone sad or frustrated and rushed to find a piece of paper,” to make a card, Parker said.
He said she would have been one of the first to comfort others.
Emilie was the oldest of three children in the Parker family and her father said his other kids looked up to her. Her siblings are 3 and 4.
“They seem to get the fact that they have somebody they’re going to miss very much,” he said.
Parker, whose family just moved to Newtown about eight months ago, was at work at the time of the shooting. Earlier in the day, he spoke to his daughter before leaving for work. He said he was teaching her Portuguese and their last conversation was in that language, with her saying good morning and asking how he was doing.
“I’m so blessed to be her dad,” he said.
Parker’s friends have set up a fund to raise money for the family, who wish to bring Emilie back to his home state of Utah for burial.
Here is video of Parker speaking to the press, from ABC News: