Danbury:A regional “Tribute to Newtown” is planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the O’Neill Center on the Westside campus of Western Connecticut State University.
Danbury: Calling hours for Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, of Danbury, will be held 10 a.m. Thursday at Frist Congregational Church, 154 Deer Hill Ave., Danbury, followed by a memorial service for friends, co-workers and family at 11 a.m.
Darien: A community prayer service will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at First Congregational Church, 14 Brookside Road, Darien. All are welcome.
New Canaan: An ecumenical prayer vigil will take place at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 23, at God’s Acre. All are welcome, and 250 glow sticks will be provided.
The Emilie Parker Fund Facebook page posted photos of President Barack Obama meeting with the family before Sunday night’s prayer service in Newtown. Emilie’s father, Robbie Parker, was the first family member of one of the victims to speak to the media, emerging from his house not long after the names of the victims were released to tell the world about the daughter he loved and encourage others to stay strong.
“This one, it haunts me,” said retiring U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman as he walked into Newtown High School for a prayer service Sunday night along with his wife, Hadassah.
Lieberman spoke with White House pool reporters about the violence commission idea he floated on Sunday morning talk shows:
“I’m always reluctant about commissions, but I really believe we ought to have a national commission on violence. These events are happening more frequently and I worry that if we don’t take a thoughtful look at them, we’re going to lose the hurt and the anger that we have now.”
“And that includes looking at violence in the entertainment culture, mental health services and, of course, gun laws. But I said that shouldn’t stop anything that the president and Congress want to do. Two things I mentioned was to restore the assault weapons ban, which expired, which existed for 10 years, ’94 to 2004, not enough votes to re-authorize it, and it had a significant effect on murders committed with guns. In other words, down. The second was, right now the background checks that the Brady Law has, if you go into a licensed federal firearms dealer, you got to be subject to, are pretty good. But if you go into a gun show or you go and buy a gun from some antique dealer, you’re not checked at all. And those to me are two things that would be important.”
President Barack Obama walks to his car after arriving at Bradley Air National Guard Base to attend an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 in East Granby, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., on Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
UPDATE (4:35 p.m.) — President Barack Obama has arrived at Bradley Air National Guard Base.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama departed the White House Sunday afternoon under dreary skies on his somber mission to console the Connecticut families who lost their children or loved ones in the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Obama, wearing a dark suit, was joined on Air Force One by Reps. Rosa DeLauro of New Haven and John Larson of East Hartford, presidential aides Valerie Jarrett and David Plouffe and speech writer Cody Keenan.
Earlier Sunday, Obama had traveled by motorcade to suburban Maryland to attend his daughter Sasha’s dance recital.
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz will honor 6-year-old Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Jack Pinto by wearing Pinto’s name on his gloves and cleats during Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, according to a report by ESPN.
Pinto was fan of Cruz, and the wide receiver reached out to the family and talked to them, offering his condolences after learning that. Cruz said the family told him they are considering burying Jack in a No. 80 Cruz jersey.
Cruz tweeted “today’s game is for you Jack,” along with a picture of his cleats.
Earlier, he said “My sincerest condolences to the entire Pinto family. My prayers are with you during this extremely difficult time.”
The Giants will all wear a S.H.E.S (Sandy Hook Elementary School) decal on the back of their helmets. Coach Tom Coughlin will write the school’s initials on his hat.
The New England Patriots will be wearing a patch to honor the victims and will light off 26 flares during a moment of silence before Sunday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, who regularly protest military funerals (and often show up in the wake of similarly tragic events) announced Saturday that they plan to protest President Obama’s scheduled visit to Newtown today.
Several members of the church took to Twitter to broadcast their intentions, including one who posted that she will “sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment,” during the President’s visit, Buzzfeed reported.
And local authorities may be powerless to stop them: The U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled that their hateful protests are protected under the First Amendment.
However, a number of Redditors (members of the popular – and occasionally philanthropic – website Reddit) have declared that they plan on traveling to Newtown to form “a silent blockade during the funeral processions…” As of 10 a.m. Sunday morning, hundreds of people had commented on the thread, many of them expressing interest in taking part in the proposed actions.
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:
By 3 p.m., the media encampment at Treadwell Memorial Park had waited for more than four hours since the last press briefing from law enforcement officials on the facts of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As the sun sank behind the deserted playground at the far end of the park — in the direction of the school — they checked their phones and laptops, and pulled on hats and gloves against the drop in temperature.
“The Russians are here, the French are here,” said a Japanese broadcaster who, while acknowledging the irony, asked that his name not be used so as not to break company policy.
At least three dozen satellite trucks were idling, sending up a cloud of exhaust that remained stationary in the absence of a breeze. The tightest part of the media thicket was just about the park soccer field, which was immaculately kept and, like the adjacent baseball field, completely empty. This was where the morning briefing had taken place, and no one was about to abandon their tripod position when the next one was imminent.
Weaving around the reporters and technicians and their gear, local residents took in the scene.
Jake DeVellis, a 2009 graduate of Newtown High School, stood with his older brother and two friends, and talked about how stunning it was to see your town at the center of a media vortex — at the park where he was more used to playing basketball in warmer weather. “You flip through channels 1 through 10 and everybody was handling it,” he said.
“It’s a place that’s meant for kids to play,” said DeVellis’ brother Joe.
The international contingent included Canadian and Brazilian reporters, as well as a crew from the Republic of Georgia — most of them dispatched from bureaus in Washington, D.C., or New York City. There were license plates from Maryland, Quebec, Ontario, Maine, and down the eastern seaboard as far as North Carolina.
The Japanese journalist said that one element of the story for foreign audiences was America’s relationship with guns. “It’s hard to understand why you need guns in such an accessible situation,” he said. ” … Is there going to be a tragic incident that changes American gun laws?”
Asked how he could handle the vehicle exhaust for hours on end, he gave a wan smile. “The scent is actually how big the story is,” he said. “It tells us how much interest there is, and it’s not a bad interest.”
Here’s video of four teenagers who had just arrived at Treadwell Memorial to demonstrate their belief that the community would endure:
At the main intersection in Sandy Hook, another clutch of satellite trucks were idling in the parking lot of the Wesley Learning Center, next to Newtown United Methodist Church, where a memorial had been closed to the media. In the Stone River Grille opposite the police barricade, the entire clientele was made up of journalists — on cellphones and laptops, taking advantage of the wi-fi.
A contingent of adults and small children came in and were initially seated at a long table in the main dining room before the management decided to give them a more private space upstairs.
“Look at this — reporter, reporter, reporter,” said one man who was part of the group. “That guy’s editing video back there.”