Community members are struggling to comprehend the tragic and horrific events on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, where .
They're trying to make sense of how someone could take the lives of innocent children. Others will have some hard conversations with their own young children as they continue to deal with the tragedy that has affected the entire nation.
"I'm beyond sick to my stomach over this horrific tragedy, and can’t stop crying while watching the news unfold," Yorktown resident Christina Rae told Patch. "I had to pick my kids up a bit early from school today because the urge was just so strong to see them and to hug them."
Teresa Hurwitz wrote on the Yorktown-Somers Patch Facebook page that said she had the urgency to go over to her daughters' elementary and middle schools to pick them up refrained from doing so. She did not want to alarm her two children and needed time to think about how to talk about the tragedy.
"I will explain to them, along with my husband, that there are bad people on this earth, filled with hate and evil," she wrote. "For us, as a family, to gather together to pray for the children, their families, the adults and their families and all those affected by this horrible murder...may their souls rest in peace...."
Kelly Galimi, another Yorktown resident and parent, told Patch she felt the same nauseous anxiety she experienced when the events of 9/11 unfolded.
"I have no words to express my horror at what occurred [Friday]," she said. "As a parent and as a human being, every part of me aches to think of the immense grief felt by all the families suffering.
The elementary school massacre has affected everyone in one way or another.
Lakeland Education Foundation president Denise Kness was in Newtown Friday afternoon having lunch with long-time family friends whose children attend the Newtown school district, but do not attend that particular building where the shooting happened.
"The best way to describe it is a chaotic scene," Kness told Patch. "Everyone is trying to get a handle on the facts. Updates have been coming in from the district. This is any parents' worse nightmare. My heart goes out to these families."
Parents of students who attend Sandy Hook elementary school were called to report to the local fire department to pick up the evacuated students, said Kness, who described the situation as surreal.
"Our friends have a middle school-er and a high school-er," she said. "Thank god for cell phones they were in constant contact with both kids."
Throughout the day people have been wondering about and discussing the safety of their own children's schools in Yorktown and Lakeland. One woman, who has children in one of Lakeland's elementary schools, told Patch she would like to see more steps taken to ensure the safety of her two young boys.
"Here in Yorktown, our schools make such conscientious and responsible efforts to screen every individual who is allowed access to the building," Galimi said. "However, there is a part of me that is filled with dread to think of someone coming in with a concealed firearm. What can we do? Are metal detectors the answer?"
Discussions about gun control also came up numerous times.
"As a mother, I want only law enforcement officials to carry guns," Galimi said. "Guns are too readily available. Those lost in CT today should not die in vain. Parents and all people of good conscience must unite together and tell our government that the 'right to bear arms' cannot infringe upon our right as human beings and US citizens to feel safe within our communities and schools."
Somers School District Superintendent Dr. Raymond H. Blanch said in a statement that New York State troopers have assured him that staff, students, and community members are completely safe.
"Our mental health professionals will be available to support our staff and students on Monday," he said.
He said parents can find information on the district's website about how families can discuss a tragic event with their children and shared this link with families.
"Please join me and keep those that are suffering from this horrific event in your thoughts and prayers," Blanch said.
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