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React to CT School Massacre: Are Your Kids Safe? How to Avert Such Horrors?

Newtown tragedy evokes 1984 McDonald’s Massacre, series of San Diego school shootings.

Updated at 3:05 p.m. Dec. 14, 2012

Twenty-seven people, including 20 children under 10, died in a school massacre Friday morning in Newtown, CT—the toll exceeding the 21 lives lost in the McDonald’s Massacre of 1984 in San Ysidro.

The gunman in Friday’s tragedy was killed, according to reports. The school’s principal also was reported slain.

Patch editors in Connecticut are updating the story with photos and video. Check the coverage at Newtown Patch

The Newtown tragedy recalls similar incidents in San Diego, including the 2001 shootings at Santana High School in Santee and the 1979 Cleveland Elementary shootings in San Carlos by Brenda Spencer.

The latest incident brought painful reminders of the March 5, 2001, shooting at Santana High School where troubled student Charles “Andy” Williams, then 15, opened fire on the campus, killing two students and injuring 13 others.

“We just don’t expect someone coming in our environment and shooting at children,” Patrick Shaw, the previous Santee School District Superintendent, said in reaction to a 2010 school shooting in Carlsbad “That’s the shocking aspect.”

Many Carlsbad-area parents also remember the October 2010 Kelly Elementary School shooting in which a gunman entered the school, fired rounds and shot two young girls in their arms. Nearby construction workers were able to stop the gunman before more harm was done. Carlsbad Unified School District increased police patrols at all area schools Friday. 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said: ”This morning’s shooting in Connecticut is a terrible, senseless tragedy. Our grief is made all the deeper when we think of the innocence of the lives lost and the valiant efforts of teachers and school leaders to protect them. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, and the entire school community.”

Ramona Unified schools Superintendent Robert Graeff told Patch that though Ramona has been “very blessed” to never experience a schoolwide tragedy like the Newtown shooting, precautions are still made by the district.

“We fully understand that we are also not immune to threats from off-campus or from on-campus,” Graeff said in an email. “Maintaining close relationships with our local sheriff and fire departments, ensuring that our emergency drills are current and practiced, and reminding staff to continually stay on guard for potential threats are the primary tools that we use to protect our students and staff.”

Graeff said that each school in Ramona Unified has detailed emergency plans for a “wide variety of potential threats.” Procedures for fires, earthquakes and even intruder alerts are practiced on a “regular basis,” the superintendent said.

“Administrators use these opportunities to remind staff and students of proper procedures for each of the various scenarios,” Graeff said. “Unfortunately, not every situation can ever be anticipated and every school is limited to the amount of safety features and staff we can include.”

Officials of the San Diego Unified School District, the second-largest school district in California with 132,000 students, wrote to parents and guardians.

“Today’s shooting transcends our ability to understand how anyone could commit such an act on innocent children, teachers and caretakers,” said Superintendent Bill Kowba. “All San Diego Unified schools have safety plans that cover all contingencies. We are continually reviewing those plans and training our staff to ensure the safety of our students.

“We also have the expertise of our own school police department who monitor the safety of our school campuses. Our school police and our school staff will have a heightened awareness of security issues during this time.”

Alfredo Aguirre, director of San Diego County Behavioral Health Services, said: “Incidents like this can generate a lot of fear and anxiety that can last a few days or weeks. That’s why it’s important for parents to be aware of their children’s response and be ready to talk openly about it, without providing too many details.

Parents should control the amount of information children have access to and answer their questions simply without dramatizing the incident, Aguirre said.  “This helps to diminish fear and anxiety in children,” he said.

Other ideas for dealing with children’s fears are here.

The county operates the Access and Crisis Line seven days a week, 24 hours a day, where people can get help for issues such as depression, anxiety, anger, or other mental health challenges.

The number is 888-724-7240.

The Sandy Hook shooting also revived the issue of gun control.

State Sen. Leland Yee, a Democrat from San Fransisco/San Mateo who has been an advocate for stricter bans on assault rifles in California, sent condolences to the children and families of Newtown. 

“In a year with so many appalling acts of gun violence, this is the most shocking of such tragedies,” Yee said in a prepared statement. “While we do not have all the details behind this senseless and unconscionable massacre, it is a sad and horrific reminder of what is possible when guns get into the wrong hands. We must limit access to weapons that can result in such catastrophe and mass murder.”

See more coverage on Newtown Patch:

  • Patch Exclusive: 'It Wasn't Me' Man Named as Shooter Writes
  • Report: Gunman's Mother Was Target and School's Kindergarten Teacher
  • Reaction: Sandy Hook School Shooting
  • Police Raid Sandy Hook Home Hours After Shooting

Do you have any relatives in Newtown or know any of the staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School? Please note in the comments or send email to ken.stone@patch.com.

Patch editors Steven Bartholow, Deanne Goodman, Jennifer Vigil, Melissa Phy, Michelle Mowad and Jennifer Squires contributed to this report.

Komfort December 17, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Looks like Bridget can't get over Komfort! Meoww!!
Things I Learned December 17, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Looks like I need to apologize Bridget I posted the wrong video I see why you misunderstood here is the right one Al Gore said it is based on his life except Tipper won't release his chakras anymore maybe Barack Obama can lend him some of our money to pay for green leg warmers so his electric bill isn't so high in his mansions I have no problem at all doing this another four years Obamockery is the only growth industry he can take credit for enjoy the ride?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMODOE8Q4mo
Doug Curlee December 17, 2012 at 01:37 AM
well, ron.. there's pour puritan, apocalyptic, end times theology at work.. i'll stick with my god of love love and forgiveness.. doug
Things I Learned December 17, 2012 at 02:06 AM
I was a pour puritan for many years but now I enjoy a beer every once in a while usually when I post on Patch what problem who said I have a problem I can take any one of you let me at him let me at him god I love you guys.
Michael Ecklund December 17, 2012 at 02:13 AM
D.C. If your God does not believe the above, then you are for sure we are not talking about the same . My Bible speaks of end times and and its unfolding as I write. As far as being puritan, maybe so. Where will you be standing when they separate the sheep from the goats ?
Michael Ecklund December 17, 2012 at 02:17 AM
RATSJ...............It must be Love ! Ya got to be kidding aren't ya ?
Michael Ecklund December 17, 2012 at 02:30 AM
D.C. If you don't want to answer to the above, you can always faint and fall down and get a concussion.
Michael Ecklund December 17, 2012 at 02:55 AM
D.C. And don't forget your god that allows you to call people jesus trolls and other names. Love love and forgiveness..............nice if you did it.
Mary December 17, 2012 at 04:41 AM
@WasMe - Seems like Bridget was right yesterday when she told you the mother of the shooter was not a teacher at the school. You said you "have noticed over the years that there are some who have opinions and express them as facts. I think that this may be the case here." Your flippant remarks just prove that childish behavior on this thread is still alive and well.
Things I Learned December 17, 2012 at 05:25 AM
Agreed Mary it makes it hard for the grownups to play She Was Right and You Were Wrong Neener Neener Neener on such a serious topic.
Was Me December 17, 2012 at 08:30 AM
@Mary and @BridgetBurns When you do your school work and find out what the BACK GROUND checks are supposed to include, especially after the Reagan/ Brady incident, please come back and enlighten us. They have become very lax in doing what they should. All I am saying is that THEY should check what THEY are supposed check so when these terrible acts happen the politicians don't get the populous stirred up and immediately want to have stricter gun control. I agree that the funding is a problem but just maybe the government can stop playing Santa Clause and do what they are elected to do per the Constitution. "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." CONTINUED
Was Me December 17, 2012 at 08:31 AM
@Mary and @BridgetBurns-continued Beneath the expressions of grief, sorrow and disbelief over the Connecticut school massacre lies an uneasy truth in Washington: over the last few years the Obama administration and Congress quietly let federal funding for several key school security programs lapse in the name of budget savings. Government officials told the Washington Guardian on Friday night that two Justice Department programs that had provided more than $200 million to schools for training, security equipment and police resources over the last decade weren't renewed in 2011 and 2012, and that a separate program that provided $800 million to put police officers inside the schools was ended a few years earlier. Meanwhile, the administration eliminated funding in 2011-12 for a separate Education Department program that gave money to schools to prepare for mass tragedies, the officials said. Now if you think what I am saying is so off base then I will happily apologize and retreat. As an avid shooter and holder of a CCW, I definitely don't want more government just an efficient one. BTW when someone prefaces a statement with "rumor has it" falls under the commercial about the internet being the absolute "BONJOUR"
BridgetBurns December 18, 2012 at 01:06 AM
@WasMe - The budget cuts that have been required by the Republican House of Representatives in order to maintain tax breaks for the ultra-rich and corporate loopholes have cause many needed domestic programs to be cut. The cancellation of programs is a result as well as cuts in Government employees that ensure compliance with existing legislation. If you want efficiency then you need civil servents to fill the positions necessary. You can talk all you want about background checks for a permit, but what about all the guns bought and sold at gun shows that requires no check at all? Don't blame this on the Obama administration, the cuts to domestic spending that the Ryan budget proposes and the Republican House demands will only cause more programs not being covered. You can complain all you want but protecting tax breaks for the rich, 8 years of two unfunded wars, and a perscription drug program that wasn't paid for, is what has caused this.
Was Me December 18, 2012 at 08:03 AM
@BridgetBurns I should have figured out where you were coming from. Another Liberal Progressive that listens to talking points but refuses to find the real facts. Sorry I even tried to explain things. Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy your Obama phone.
BridgetBurns December 18, 2012 at 08:51 AM
@WasMe - That's right, blame everyone and everything else. The problem is the availability of assault weapons and large clips/magazines. Don't try to hide behind the 2nd Ammendment, because our founding fathers could never have envisioned the carnage that's been caused to American citizens by the availability of weapons that should only be for warfare or police protection. Don't try to make this political. This is common sense to the majority as seen in recent polls. But I guess someone who has a CCW permit, must have a need for some imagined power over others. You can't expect the Government to run as you seem to believe it should, without funding it properly. The cause of cancelled domestic Govt programs, no matter which ones, has a direct relationship to the conservative mindset of protecting the rich. You have a nice holiday season.
Was Me December 18, 2012 at 12:10 PM
@BridgetBurns I can't resist this one. Go to the Congressional Budget Office web site and see that the federal Government has grown by over 149k jobs in the last 4 years and all are pulling down an average $80k pay check. Majority of these jobs are useless and are for cronies. I could care less if the they want to raise taxes on the rich, hell they even asked to be taxed more. But wait, isn't the Chairmen of Obama's Job Council Jeffery Immelt? You know, the guy that's ahead of GE that hasn't paid any income tax for many years and out sources more jobs than stays in the states? CLOSE the loop holes for corporate welfare. A great start. 2nd Amendment is for the people to protect themselves from the tyrannical government. BTW, what holiday's are you referring too? I'll bet you have a hard time with that one. MERRY CHRISTMAS
BridgetBurns December 19, 2012 at 06:18 AM
@WasMe - I have no idea where you got your data, but here is the link to my data http://www.opm.gov/feddata/HistoricalTables/TotalGovernmentSince1962.asp Shows the statistics for 2009 (first year of Obama Administration) at 4,430,000 Statistics for 2010 at 4,443,000 WHICH INCLUDES TEMP CENSUS EMPLOYEES Both numbers INCLUDE UNIFORMED MILITARY PERSONNEL which increased 152,000 in the above 2 year period.
Ed Sorrels December 19, 2012 at 07:41 AM
michael, With all your accusations and name calling you are just a half a step behind those religious taliban from the westborough baptist church, Will we miss you when you go back to newton to join them , Sadly NO !
Was Me December 19, 2012 at 09:00 AM
@BridgetBurns I will have to concede to my info from the CBO since they pulled the reference which was actually 143,000 and not 149,000. When the government starts playing with the numbers we are all in trouble. Try this one which does not include census or military and covers ALL the years for a total of 57,680. Don't look at the salaries unless your sitting down. http://www.fedscope.opm.gov/employment.asp
Was Me December 19, 2012 at 11:43 AM
@BridgetBurns BTW I ran across another site that may interest you. http://www.fedsdatacenter.com/federal-pay-rates/ I know this is going to be tough for you to take but I am leaving this morning for 10 days to visit my children, grand children and 5 great grand children. Please hold down the fort and don't be to crushed but I'll be back. Merry Christmas
Batman December 19, 2012 at 03:23 PM
It has been brought to my attention the mall shooting in Oregon was stopped by a CITIZEN WITH A GUN. After killing two people the gunman was confronted by a private citizen with a pistol and a CCW permit, and the culprit immediately gave up and shot himself. Mr Stone, Mr Bartholow, Mr Yates, why have you not reported this? As I have said before, these thugs and creeps are only brave when the odds are overwhelmingly in their favor, and gun control guarantees this.
Ed Sorrels December 19, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Good Post Batman, Verry true they mostly tend to be cowards and a vigorous frontal confrontation will usually settle the matter, And one good idea for these miscelanieous shooting's is a few more CCW's out there, If they are not sure they won't be as liable to act !
Ed Sorrels December 20, 2012 at 06:38 AM
Sheeple, Don't know about the 50's but I can say this about the 40's, we were at war and the kid's had vegatable gardens to tend after school I also raised rabbits ( We ate one of my pet's every sunday for dinner and to this day I can't eat a rabbit) and you had your daily chores also there were scrap metal collections and rubber collections and if you wanted to go to the movies you had to earn the money, LOL wasn't hard it was just $0.12 cents and you even got a small bag of popcorn, we were in school from 7 to 30 and there were no busses, we walked. We were busy from sunup to sundown,evenings were home work and if thing's were going good maybe an hour's radio listening. everyone in town knew who we belonged to and god forbid someone else telling your folks you were up to something so yes it was a much safer time at least when and where I grew up !
Ed Sorrels December 20, 2012 at 06:57 AM
I am laughing about this, After several months reading and posting on patch I have finally found something I don't like about it, not a big thing and Kari could probably rig one, But wouldn't it be nice if there was an IGNORE button like most chat rooms ????
RATSJ December 20, 2012 at 07:41 AM
I think it would be a great idea to have the current post up at the top so you don't have to keep scrolling down all the time. Can the powers that be do this?
Tom Yarnall December 20, 2012 at 03:06 PM
To my friends who are believers and to my friends who respect believers. To my friends who have Faith and to my friends who respect those who have Faith. htmwww.greatdanepro.com/Pray%20For%20America/index.htm
Michael Ecklund December 20, 2012 at 05:33 PM
@ Ed Sorrels....Your ignored!
Ed Sorrels December 20, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Michael, By you, I sure a s hell would hope so !
Michael Ecklund December 21, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Ed Sorrels........U R a funny old man......! Time to take your meds.!
Michael Ecklund December 21, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Tom Yarnall.......Hey Tom, that was nice of you and right back atja !

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