Newtown wonders how to heal
A woman receives a hug as she leaves a morning service at Trinity Church, not far from the Sandy Hook School.
December 17th, 2012
01:40 AM ET

Newtown wonders how to heal

By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

Newtown, Connecticut (CNN) - Newtown is the kind of place that would make the perfect backdrop for a Norman Rockwell painting. Until this tragic shooting, everyone who lives here has always felt safe and secure. Today, they wonder how they will ever get back to that place.

[1:21] “I don’t think you can ever fully heal," said Marci Benitez, owner of a children's hair salon in town. "You know with any loss, I feel that there’s always a void left for a loved one. But in time it does lessen, the hurt lessens a little bit. But the void and the hurt is always there, especially when it’s a child.”

Candles and tears: Portrait of a grieving town

Lee Shull lives around the corner from the shooter's home. He expects the feelings he and his neighbors have right now will last for a long time.

[2:21] “It’s the ripple effect, right? It’s… our neighbors had children that were killed. We’ve got siblings, older siblings that my son Ian goes to school with… how does that affect them? It’s the neighbors and the families; it’s just a huge ripple effect out from those 26 people.”

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soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. HuPhartNgau

    As mull and mourn, we see how very critical teachers are in the lives of our children. We can think back to how influential some teachers were in our own development. Perhaps these college educated, certified mentors deserve more respect than they are given, and a wage at least equal to the plumber who fixes our toilet...

    December 18, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
  2. Outofdate Society

    This man legally had guns. If he could obtain guns children should too. Let's please gun lovers, and experience more mass deaths, then decide to do the right thing. Guns should be limited and regulated. Security should be increased (not authority ). In my personal opinion children should not be going to school until this country gets in shape for example: police or security increase , and updated curriculums worthy of 2013. If we really care about kids we need to take the responsible approach. Reality exist and killers are out of touch. For the sake of our children teach them what is real and not just politically safe to teach children. Tomorrow the sun will rise for these families, but the sun doesn't literally rise and this country is not prepared to teach its children at our own standards. Maybe some norms creates these monsters.

    December 18, 2012 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. fiftyfive55

    These folks won't heal,their pain may lessen over time but they won't heal from the loss of a child.The best thing that could happen right now is for everyone to just leave them alone until an appropriate time when they are ready.Every newspaper and television reporter is , without conscious,trying to get a story at other's expense and it needs to stop right now.

    December 18, 2012 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. eph521

    @skastenbaumcnn – I think the argument is that if more people had guns, there would be more people who could defend themselves, thus limiting the number of people killed in situations where there is a shooter with otherwise defenseless victims. Personally, I tend to agree with you that more guns in the hands of the public does make them more readily available generally speaking. And that's what concerns me about the idea of more people being armed. But I'd also like it if someone could take out the shooter more quickly in these situations to limit the number of innocent victims.

    More guns or less guns, protecting our schools is something we can do better at. Even if takes elite security and building designs with multiple layers of security (think Pentagon), somehow we can get it done and in a way that's good for our children and future generations. We must innovate in this area and get it done. Guns, mental illness and other areas deserve major attention as well. But protecting the schools better can happen now.

    December 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. segmation

    I think that Norman Rockwell is a good part of the Christmas Holiday as well.

    December 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. infowars


    Remembering victims of CT shooting

    December 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Michael

    I have been a CNN viewer for over 20 years. I have to say the advocacy shown on the network this last weekend has really saddened me. I had held up the channel as the last bastion of real reporting in which anchors and reporters actually wanted to know the truth rather than push their agenda as can been seen on other channels. Right now I feel that there is no home left for me on cable news and I am turning them all off. I don't know if the editorial decisions are part of the new management or the very natural horror felt over this tragedy, but I hope someday CNN will return to its fine traditions.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      @Michael – By advocacy are you referring to a push for gun control? If yes, we are just reflecting what we are hearing/seeing on the ground here in Newtown, in DC and elsewhere. If you've been watching our air around the clock you probably also saw the reports from a gun show in California and the interviews with gun-enthusiasts that are dead set against using this shooting as means to restrict access to fire arms. If you're talking about the emotions that are clearly exhibited by our staff while covering this story it's hard not to be emotionally impacted by the death of 20 very young children.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. skastenbaumcnn

    I'm Steve Kastenbaum, the reporter who put this story together. As the discussion around gun control evolves in the wake of this shooting I'm trying to understand the arguments put forth by gun enthusiasts. Do not take my questions to be judgmental or an expression of any particular belief. I'm just trying to understand. Correct me if I am wrong but the belief is that more law abiding, responsible adults should carry firearms; that if well trained law citizens, perhaps teachers, carried weapons they could prevent a massacre like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary. How is that argument made when the guns used in this shooting were indeed owned by someone who appears to have been a law abiding, responsible gun owner? In many similar shootings the weapons were legally owned and by all accounts kept in homes by responsible, law abiding gun owners. If that's the case, it stands to reason that further proliferation of these weapons would lead to additional mass shootings. Logic dictates that if he didn't have easy access to these weapons we wouldn't be here right now. Also, statistics on gun violence show a direct relationship between the proliferation of guns in a society and the number of violent acts committed with a firearm. For example, in Australia, where some people enjoy a similar passion for guns, when stricter gun control laws were passed in that country violent crimes committed with a firearm dropped by 59%. I look forward to the responses. Please keep the conversation civil. Thank you.

    December 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • fiftyfive55

      You make a very intelligent point.Gun ownership,is not the only dangerous thing we possess out here,we also have over 900 vehicular deaths in 2012 alone,untold numbers of those deaths are caused by texting,cell phones and other distrac tions ,we start wars which kill hundreds of thousands ,we release PTSD troops back into society everday,we allow 10 million illegal,unregistered aliens to just wander about the country committing all sorts of heinous crimes and yet we refuse to address those situations because money is involved so why dedicate all these articles to this story when so much worse is happening everyday ?

      December 18, 2012 at 6:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    As I stated before, the Founding Fathers were no heroes at all. For example, establishing a militia or army to defend and preserve the colony is one thing but making it legitimate for citizens of the Union to bear arms to defend the colony and do the job of our military was clearly a sign of weakness on the part of the Founding Fathers. So what did the Founding Fathers do when they arrived at Plymouth Rock? Well, the first thing the cowards did was to kill the Native Indians because of fear of reprisal from the natives for stealing their land. Then when their western colony was eventually established, were they satisfied? No, no, they just had to send ships to Africa to started the Trans-Continental Slave Trade to do their chores for Four Hundred years. Then fearful that the British King would have his way, they then decided to call for arming the colonialists to do the job of the local army. Three hundred years later, we are painstakingly paying the price for the stupidity of a bunch of overweight drunken Irishmen who have made it easily accessibly for lunatics to purchase deadly assault weapons to kill out our modern colonists. Ludicrous.

    December 17, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    During the past weekend, CNN's Wolf Blitzer was interviewing a gun advocate and author of some book he wrote on guns. When Mr. Blitzer asked him why we need deadly assault weapons to go hunt game, his reply astound me. First, he paused for about ten seconds, searching for a reply, then he tried to defend the shooter by saying that assault rifles like the one the shooter used only look deadly on the inside while in retrospect, such assault rifles are not as deadly as people might imagine. Was this guy really serious? According to the medical examiner, many of these children were shot 3 times while some were shot 11 times. Is this guy really serious? Then he tried to justify the need for deadly assault rifles by trying to explain that in a situation where a person with a handgun may be overpowered by an attacker, possession of an assault rifle like the one the shooter used would prevent an attacker from overpowering the victim. Well, if this was China, Russia or some country in the Middle East, this author would probably be facing a firing squad by now for plain stupidity and ignorance. Only in America.

    December 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. schoolsub

    I legally own two "semi-automatic" rifles. Neither is classified as an assault rifle. Each will fire rounds repeatedly as quickly as I can pull the trigger. One has a seven round clip, the other can hold up to twenty-one short cartridges or fifteen long rifle cartridges in a tubular magazine. I understand that the rifle used by the suspect in the Sandy Hook shootings was not a fully automatic rifle but, rather, a semi-automatic rifle. I am at a loss as to why it is called an assault rife. It can do no more repeat firing than either of my sport rifles. I am afraid that if laws are passed to prohibit the private ownership of "assault" rifles, the definition of such used in the statute would make the law apply to my sporting rifles (Remington model 550-1 and Mossberg model 352K).

    December 17, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      Why don't you stick your guns up your ass?

      December 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • ToWit

      Do killing innocent animals make you feel macho? Do you pat yourself on the back at the end of the day and marvel at how many living creatures you killed? Suppose YOU were that animal facing that gun barrel? You are probably one of those NRA supporters, representing the backward, uneducated, not so intelligent Right Wing segment of the American population.

      December 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
      • thate46guy

        I own firearms because I enjoy target shooting (not animals, targets) and for protection. If they somehow manage to eliminate guns from the hands of all criminals then i will agree that it is not necessary for civilians to own firearms but that will never happen because it is literally impossible. criminals are not going to hand in their guns, guns are already readily available to them. the only difference will be who they buy them from, theyll continue be smuggled in with drugs (probably to a greater extent) and sold that way which also will further feed the cartels and street gangs. personally, i would like to stand as much of a chance as possible against an armed attacker. the police can't prevent all violent crime all they can do is clean up the aftermath.

        basically what i'm saying is its too late for this country to do away with guns, i will however agree that the gunshow loophole should be corrected and psychological and criminal history checks should be carefully followed through with during legal firearm sales.

        December 17, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
        • ToWit

          I commend you for not shooting animals for sport. However, the low chance of you coming into a life threatening situation of self defense is not worth the risk of unintended use of your weapon being turned on you or someone else, either inadvertently or deliberately. I live in NYC where crime incidences are much, much greater than in rural America. I don’t worry about being robbed. In fact, I have never been robbed. Moreover, in the overwhelmingly majority of cases where property is stolen from someone’s home, the event happened while the home’s occupants were out. While we would likely face the problem of gun smuggling into this country, the incidences of criminality involving guns would still be dramatically fewer in number if guns were outlawed.

          December 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brave Hearts

      You're worried about your assault rifle becoming part of gun legislation. Can't you people write about something more heart felt, and stop worring about yourself for god sakes. I have words for you and people like you schoolsub....get your head out of your ass!!!

      December 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ToWit

    Why can’t America open its eyes and see the real problem at hand? There will always be deranged people among us who would commit harm to others. There is no way to prevent this because the spectrum of what we call normal behavior encompasses idiosyncrasies in personality traits which are common to all of us. If people were apprehended for behaving “suspiciously,” most of us would be subject to apprehension at some point in our lifetime – our civil rights would be seriously compromised in such a paranoid society. Furthermore, what is to stop mentally disturbed individuals or even young children from obtaining these weapons from registered (presumably) mentally balance individuals? This is the 21st Century folks. We don’t need guns. I live in NYC where crime incidences are much, much greater than in rural America. I don’t worry about being robbed. In fact, I have never been robbed. Yet the majority of those who feel the need to own a gun for self protection live in rural America! There is an unintelligent argument in favor of gun ownership which goes like this: If we get rid of guns to reduce the number of deaths, then we should also get rid of automobiles, jet planes, etc., since death also results from these inventions. The difference is that society needs automobiles and jet planes for obvious reasons, but we don’t need guns in the hands of civilians for any reason! An equally unintelligent argument in favor of gun ownership is the following: If (for example) everyone carried a gun in the crowded movie theatre shooting incident, fewer people would have been shot because the perpetrator would have been quickly put down by the other theatre patrons. Such nonsensical argument ignores the extreme likelihood of mass confusion and failed marksmanship, resulting in unintended shooting victims that would most certainly have exceeded the actual number witnessed. And, why do we want to kill innocent animals for sport? I question the morality of such enthusiasts. The NRA is powerful only because we have a corrupt political system. We permit monetary and personal favors by such organizations to our elected officials. That should be outlawed, carrying sever penalties for violators. The Constitution must be amended to make gun ownership by civilians a serious crime with mandatory one year jail time for persons found guilty. The government should manufacture and distribute guns for law enforcement and the military only. All private manufacturers of such weapons should be shut down. While, still, we would likely face the problem of gun smuggling into this country, the incidences of criminality involving guns would be dramatically fewer in number, and I mean DRAMATICALLY! We are living in an America reflecting 21st Century law enforcement capabilities. Let’s act like a civilized nation. We must amend the Constitution and outlaw civilian gun ownership once and for all.

    December 17, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • schoolsub

      ToWit: You need to change your moniker to "DimWitt"

      December 17, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Blue Water

    Proposal: Gun Control
    Reason: Remove guns from the hands of as many americans as possible so as to prevent those who WOULD go on a shooting spree.
    Effectivess: Unknown. WHo owns guns? Who is likely to kill? Who should own guns? How many guns have DETERED crime? Is there proof i'll work? Is there proof it won't work? Does it really depend on state by state leadership judgment? Are people in every state the same? Do all these killers have something in common?

    Final question: are people asking these kinds of questions: No. Most says, "GUN CONTROL!!!" other says, "NO GUN CONTROL!!!" Can we please explroe this topic and not decide on a final method or approach without research, study, analyzation, critical thinking, etc????

    December 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. palintwit

    Either the shooter was born south of the Mason-Dixon line or he spent a lot of time there. On weekends he hung around the gun & ammo. department at Walmart. He lived in a trailer park, drank Everclear and had intimate relations with his sister. He was a rabid nascar fan, a card carrying member of the Tea Party and he always voted republican. There you have it. His profile in a nutshell.

    December 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      Thanks for the laughter. Many will need laughter in wake of this heinous tragedy.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bill

    ALL NEWS and MEDIA, if you don't live in CT leave now!! We need to Grieve!!! The Camera's are not helping!

    I urge all local business in Sandy Hook and Newtown to stop serving the news agencies. Their should be a limit to how long they can litter our towns. I think that time has expired. Yes the world needs to know of this horrible day, but its over. Please let my town grieve, heal and move forward without the camera's on every corner. We need our community togehter – not camera's in our faces.

    December 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    This is why the NRA should be blown up and all the gun lobbyists in America executed. F-ing problem solved.

    December 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |

      Imagine a world without "crazies". I suppose people like you would be no more.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
      • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

        Crazies are lunatics who murder small children in cold blood. Crazies are gun toting right wing lunatics who continue to be defiant and ignorant regarding the importance of getting deadly assault weapons out of our communities.

        December 17, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • thate46guy

      "oh, some crazy guy killed some people? lets kill more people, everyone who owns or supports the class of weapons he stole and used in the crime. that'll show 'em."

      yea, thats a great idea. who let your dumb ass use the internet?

      December 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Ellen Tran

    This is what I thougth to the children of Sandy Hook Connecticut
    To make kid feel comfortable to go back to school:
    -Perents have to accept the truth (Human come out this world will go home one way to another)
    Instead of suffering you have to put all your power in pray of the name of God (The name of Juses Amen)
    Or any religion apply to your family (for example my religion is AMITABA)
    Every family pray (call the name of God) at least 10 minute before go tho the bed
    Teach the children how to pray and let them know why we pray(to help the lost go to heaven)
    School have to have at least 10 minute pray before class start.(let the children know that they just do a qood dee by paray the victim go to heave)
    I bet all the children they love to do that because they thought that they just help their friend go to heaven
    I think this way will help all of us will feel comfortable better than we sitting there suffering
    Please parents instead of suffering the lost put all your power into pray every minute or everytime you think about your lost.
    I wish the Juses will hear your call and give his power to help you stand up to walk again.

    Ellen Tran Arizona

    December 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  18. justme60a

    After this problem gun control should be taken more seriously wihtout the NRA dicting gun owners rights. Owning a gun through proper channels is one thing, but able to purchase an assualt rifle and the public needs this because.....?

    December 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Rob Canada

    Education ,Choices that failed him,Pressure at home,something is missing here what drove him to go to that school,did he have a issue with a teacher?,was this person supposedly going to guide him in directions of opportunity,he looks frail,but with those guns he was not,he was in control,sheesh,Parents Teachers teach the children well.Yes there are Monsters out there.

    December 17, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  20. John

    I think people often confuse the term "gun control" as having to do with banning ALL guns from EVERYONE. I see no problem with citizens having the right to possess a handgun, or a shotgun for hunting etc....; however, I do have a problem with an ordinary citizen being able to purchase an assault rifle like the one used in this rampage. I know it sounds crude, but if the shooter only had the handguns, maybe he is a good enough shot to kill a few people, one shot at a time, before he runs out of ammo or kills himself, whichever comes first. I cannot think of 1 good reason why non-military, non-law enforcement people need access to weapons that can spray 100's of rounds in a matter of seconds.

    December 17, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  21. Trevor

    If you wonder how to heal, Turn to Jesus our beloved God and savior. Matthew 11:28-30. "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

    December 17, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  22. schoolsub

    There is talk of not reopening Sandy Hook Elementary School. Look, the facility did not commit the autrocities. Clean it up an reopen in January 2013. If I were a taxpayer in that school district I would be incensed at the idea of scrapping a perfectly good facility and spending my tax dollars to replace it. I realize that emotions are high now but reason and fiscal responsibility must, ultimately, take over.

    I do think that we are going to have to take a strong look at arming school employees. Perhaps, if the principal had a 9mm, some or all of the carnage could have been prevented.

    December 17, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  23. Connie

    Gun control had nothing to do with what happened in Newtown. The guns were regestered legally. The problem is this person had a mental problem and today we allow them to just go about freely like everyone else. This family knew he had a problem. They had to deal with it on their own because Insurance and institutions for problem people no longer exist. For a person like this young man if he was intent to destory life, if it was not with a gun he would have come up with some other form of distrustion.

    December 17, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      You're incompetent. Gun control or rather lack thereof had everything to do with this tragedy. For example, had there been laws on the books outlawing assault rifles like the one used in this tragedy, chances are that some or many of the children would have been able to flee the carnage with the shooter being limited to using a handgun as opposed to having access to a semi automatic rifle that can spray 100 rounds a minute as John stated above.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Gilda

    When will the US realize that gun control is essential. What is the problem in the US with having restrictions on life threatening items such as guns?

    December 17, 2012 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
    • schoolsub

      Look, Gilda, one of the reasons that no one invaded our country in World War II is that the Axis powers realized that the United States had an armed citizenry and that, collectively, the private gun owners in this country would have constituted the largest armed force on earth.

      December 17, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • claybigsby

      See Chicago as an example....huge regulations on guns yet has one of the highest murder rates in the country.

      December 17, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • gettagrip

      Gilda, it is easy to have a knee jerk response when looking for a quick fix or answer. There will always be access to guns with or without legal options. Or do you believe we don't have a drug problem in this country because the govt has made them illegal. The old saying "guns don't kill people, people kill people" isn't just an empty statement. Perhaps funding for mental health options and improved councelors in schools would be better spent dollars. I honeslty don't know what drives the wing nuts in our society or what can better control their outbursts, but I'll give you another old saying "you can pry my guns from my cold dead hands" keep your opinions away from my first ammendment right!

      December 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |