<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Newtown School Shooting]]>Copyright 2017https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/feature/newtown-school-shootinghttp://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.pngNBC Connecticuthttps://www.nbcconnecticut.comen-usTue, 21 Nov 2017 21:08:23 -0500Tue, 21 Nov 2017 21:08:23 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[Remembering the Sandy Hook Victims]]>Tue, 18 Dec 2012 07:42:28 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/victims+composite+3+3.jpg
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<![CDATA[Newtown Marks Third Anniversary of Sandy Hook Shooting]]>Mon, 14 Dec 2015 20:20:00 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Sandy-Hook-GettyImages-174518794.jpg

Monday marks three years since a deadly mass shooting claimed the lives of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

For the first time, Newtown students are in school on the anniversary of the tragedy.

Gov. Dannel Malloy has ordered Connecticut and U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff Monday as the state honors the victims of the Dec. 14, 2012 massacre.

Among those who died were first-grade students Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Anne Marie Murphy, Elimie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler and Allison Wyatt.

Also killed were school principal Dawn Hochsprung, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, teachers Victoria Soto and Lauren Rousseau, behavioral therapist Rachel Davino and school aide Anne Marie Murphy.

Community members are coming together to remember the victims. Trinity Episcopal Church will hold its annual Interfaith Gathering for Prayer and Comfort at 7 p.m. Monday. The service will include prayer, readings of sacred texts and moments of silence for everyone to "reflect" or "pray in his or her own way," according to Newtown religious leaders.

"As faith leaders, we come from a variety of religious communities that are diverse in belief and practice," Rev. Matt Crebbin of Newtown Congregational Church wrote to the community. "However, we want you to know that we are united in our commitment to offer care and compassion to all of Newtown. As we near the three year Anniversary of the traumatic events at Sandy Hook School, we want to let you to know that we continue to hold this community in our prayers and we continue to offer care for anyone who wishes to find spiritual and faith-based support. Many of our individual fellowships will be offering specific events in the days around the anniversary as part of our worship and community life. We plan to post details about these in the very near future.

The door at Newtown Congregational Church bears a sign with a simple message: "We are Sandy Hook. We Choose Love."

"Choosing love is not something that is an afterthought, it really is a conscious choice that we try to make every day," Crebbin, the church’s senior minister, said. "When I hear of other communities that have been affected by gun violence, there is this connection with compassion, but there’s also this great sorrow that’s still there."

Crebbin said his community must find a way to recognize the tragic events of three years ago without reliving the trauma.

"We may be in the same chapter of a book, but we’re on different pages, so part of the way we can care for one another is be aware that different people will be at different places, especially around this anniversary," Crebbin said.

Newtown recovery centers are also providing quiet spaces and therapeutic programs to support grieving community members.

"It is very hard, it is very difficult to overcome," said Rabbi Shaul Praver, who served as rabbi at Newtown's Congregation Adath Israel at the time of the shooting, "but we will overcome."

Praver is writing a book called Sacred Testimony on the narrative of what happened, why and the search for solutions.

"Teaching the golden rule in school, being compassionate to one another, educating the entire child, reaching out to the loner as the most powerful thing we can do to keep our children safe in school," he said.

Monday is the first anniversary of the tragedy that falls on a school day. Students from Newtown are still attending school in neighboring Monroe while construction continues on the new Sandy Hook Elementary School. Construction is scheduled to be finished by fall of 2016, according to the project website.

"It seemed to be most appropriate, and since we’ve had a couple of years, that we have that day where children come together and learn and celebrate the gift of learning," Crebbin said.

Memorial services for the 26 lives lost were also held over the weekend.

Photo Credit: Barcroft Media via Getty Images/File]]>
<![CDATA[Newtown Prepares to Mark Sandy Hook Anniversary]]>Mon, 14 Dec 2015 08:01:40 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tlmd_sandy_hook_elementary.jpg

On a door at the Newtown Congregational Church is a sign with a simple message: “We are Sandy Hook. We Choose Love.”

“Choosing love is not something that is an afterthought, it really is a conscious choice that we try to make every day,” said Rev. Matt Crebbin, the church’s senior minister.

Monday marks three years since the mass shooting that killed 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“When I hear of other communities that have been affected by gun violence, there is this connection with compassion,” Crebbin said, “but there’s also this great sorrow that’s still there.”

Crebbin said his community must find a way to recognize the tragic events of three years ago without reliving the trauma.

“We may be in the same chapter of a book, but we’re on different pages so part of the way we can care for one another is be aware that different people will be at different places, especially around this anniversary,” Crebbin said.

“It is very hard, it is very difficult to overcome,” Rabbi Shaul Praver said, “but we will overcome”
Praver was the rabbi at Newtown’s Congregation Adath Israel at the time of the shooting. He is writing a book called Sacred Testimony on the narrative of what happened, why and the search for solutions.

“Teaching the golden rule in school, being compassionate to one another, educating the entire child, reaching out to the loner as the most powerful thing we can do to keep our children safe in school,” he said.

This Monday will be the first anniversary on which Newtown’s students will be in school.

“It seemed to be most appropriate and since we’ve had a couple of years that we have that day where children come together and learn and celebrate the gift of learning,” Crebbin said.

Memorials for the 26 lives lost will be held at different services over the weekend. There’s an interfaith Gathering for Prayer and Comfort Monday night at Newtown’s Trinity Episcopal Church.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sandy Hook Charities & Organizations]]>Sat, 14 Dec 2013 15:51:13 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/newtownangelsmemorial.jpg

In the days following December 14, 2012, many organizations formed to try and create something positive in the wake of the tragedy.

Below is a list of some of the charities and other organizations honoring the victims.

My Sandy Hook Family

26 Acts of Kindness

Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation

Newtown Helps Rwanda

Newtown Kindness

Lauren Rousseau Memorial Scholarship

UConn Sandy Hook Memorial Scholarship Fund

Snowflakes Fall

The Sandy Ground: Where Angels Play

<![CDATA[Newtown-Sandy Hook Foundation to Shut Down in 2025]]>Thu, 05 Mar 2015 04:50:29 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/donations_P2.jpg

An organization set up to manage money raised for families affected by the Sandy Hook school shooting will close down in 2025, according to the executive director.

The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation launched in 2013 to allocate donations that came pouring into the community in the wake of the Dec. 14, 2012 massacre.

Twenty first-grade students and six educators were killed that day when a gunman opened fire in the school.

Executive Director Jennifer Barahona said the foundation was never meant to last forever.

"It has always been the Foundation’s intention to be time-limited," Barahona said in a statement. "The time line was based on the desire to provide continued support to the community and those most impacted for a period of 10-15 years."

The foundation will continue to operate until the youngest students who attended Sandy Hook at the time of the shooting graduate from high school.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Nashville Man Indicted in Sandy Hook Fraud Scheme]]>Tue, 17 Feb 2015 18:54:45 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/sandy_hook_special_121713.jpg

A Tennessee man accused of soliciting donations for the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre and using the money for personal gain has been indicted on six counts of wire fraud, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Robert Terry Bruce, 34, of Nashville, could face a sentence of up to 120 years in prison if convicted.

He was indicted Tuesday on charges that he defrauded donors from around the country, including in Connecticut, who thought they were helping to raise money for Sandy Hook but in reality were paying to support Bruce’s personal training business, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

According to federal prosecutors, Bruce set up the 26.4.26 Foundation in the wake of the December 2012 shootings and hosted two athletic charity events in early 2013.

He solicited contributions through a PayPal account and told supporters the “Schools 4 Schools run” and “CrossFit Cares” event were designed “to help raise funds for increased school safety, families of victims, memorials to teacher heroes, awareness and prevention in schools across America.” the U.S. attorney's office said.

Bruce told donors all proceeds would benefit the 26.4.26 Foundation, but in reality, he used most of the money to cover personal expenses and bolster his personal training business, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Several donors who fell victim to the scam are from Connecticut.

The allegations came to light over the summer when 26.4.26 co-founder Ryan Graney told the Associated Press that only $30,000 of the $103,000 raised had been used for the true purpose of the organization.

Bruce was arrested Feb. 13 and indicted Tuesday. He’ll be arraigned in Hartford on Monday, Feb. 23 and could be sentenced to 20 years in prison on each count if convicted, according to federal prosecutors.

<![CDATA[Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Releases Draft Report]]>Thu, 12 Feb 2015 18:27:27 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tlmd_sandy_hook_elementary.jpg

The draft of the final Sandy Hook Advisory Commission report was released to the public Thursday morning.

The commission will vote on the 256-page report, which addresses school safety, comprehensive gun reform and mental health policies in the state, among other recommendations.

The commission's mission has been to change policies and laws in an effort to prevent another violent massacre like the one on Dec. 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown that took the lives of 20 first graders and six staff members.

In addressing school safety, the commission said Connecticut schools should be as safe as possible without feeling like prisons and pointed out that several of the commission's 22 recommendations have already been implemented by law.

The second part of the report examines law enforcement, honing in on firearms, including gun and ammunition control.  

The third part of the report focuses on mental health and notes that 3 to 5 percent of all violence committed in the United States is attributable to people with mental illness.

The report reviews the current system, addresses access to quality mental health care and suggests steps schools and communities can take to properly equip residents who are dealing with trauma and loss.

It also addresses ways to remove the stigma of mental health and encourage those affected to seek proper care.

Following are some of the recommendations included in the report:

School Safety

  • Schools are urged to adopt a safety plan and put together a safety committee including police, first responders, teachers, administrators and custodians.
  • Doors should be equipped with locks from the inside. There is no documented case of an active shooter breaching a locked classroom door.
  • Exterior doors in K-12 schools should be equipped with hardware capable of full perimeter lockdown.
  • Custodians should be included as members of school security and safety committees because they have a wealth of knowledge about the building and grounds.
  • Local committees are urged to report to the state on school security status once per year.
  • Safety and security training should be implemented for all faculty and staff.
  • Classrooms and other spaces of denser occupancy should be located away from building entry points.

Law Enforcement

  • Mandatory background checks should be run prior to the sale or transfer of any firearm, including long guns, in private sales and gun shows. (This recommendation has already been adopted.)
  • Registration should be required, including a certificate of registration, for every firearm, and should be issued after completion of a background check. This is separate from a permit to carry a firearm. (This has not been adopted.)
  • Firearms permits must be renewed on a regular basis. The renewal process should include a firearms handling test as well as a test on applicable laws and regulations. (This has not been adopted.)
  • Ammunition purchases should be allowed only for registered firearms. (This has not been adopted because there is no gun registration law yet.)
  • Limit the amount of ammunition that can be purchased at any given time. The commission does not spell out the recommended amount. (This has not been adopted.)
  • Limit magazine capacity to 10 rounds. (This has been adopted.) 

Mental Health

  • Expand and increase availability of early intervention community treatment programs.
  • Implement multidisciplinary risk assessment teams in schools.
  • Build systems of care that go beyond treating mental illness and foster healthy individuals.
  • Identify risk factors and reinforce protective factors.
  • Schools should play a crucial role in fostering healthy children.
  • Social-emotional learning in schools should help childen identify and name feelings, including frustration, anger and loneliness, that can contribute to disruptive and self-destructive behavior.
  • Implement a social development curriculum that includes anti-bullying strategies.
  • Develop state and federal Department of Education programs to supplement the state Department of Children and Families.  
  • Implement higher reimbursement rates for care.
  • Increase the behavioral health care workforce.

Part of the report that reviews the events of Dec. 14, 2012 and the moments leading up to it explains that the shooter's mother, Nancy Lanza, took a trip to New Hampshire from Dec. 11-13, in part to have a break from the challenges of parenting Adam Lanza and to experiment with leaving her son along for long periods of time.

The next morning, Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother with a rifle, left it by her bed, then carried out the elementary school massacre before shooting and killing himself.

A statement from Gov. Dannel Malloy's office said the commission will make modifications before voting to approve change at its final working meeting Friday.

The commission will present the final report to the governor and its last ever meeting, the date of which has not been set, according to the governor's office.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Chris Murphy and Rep. Elizabeth Esty released the following statement in response to the report Thursday:

"Two years ago, after the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, families across the nation stood united in demanding action so that not one more community would have to suffer such senseless heartache, fear, and loss. Since then, there have been more than 100 additional school shootings, and Congress has yet to act on commonsense measures, supported by the vast majority of Americans that would help stem this national crisis. We will continue to fight for these commonsense measures that would deprive murderers of the key means of massacre, provide law enforcement the additional tools they have sought to enforce the laws on the books, strengthen school security, and fix our broken mental health system. We thank Governor Malloy and the legislature for steps already taken to save lives in our state and thank the Commission for its diligent and dedicated service—a difficult, and heart-wrenching task that should give Congress a roadmap for tackling public safety reforms that a majority of Americans and Connecticut residents need and demand."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Newtown to Build Memorial for Sandy Hook Shooting Victims]]>Wed, 21 Jan 2015 09:45:03 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/donations_P2.jpg

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission is setting out to honor the lives of 26 students and staffers who died during the December 2012 school shooting.

The victims' families were first to hear the plans to erect a memorial, and they'll also play a large role in shaping the monument.

"I think we have to really run it by the people who were most impacted and see what they feel comfortable with," Newtown resident and Lions Club member Bob Schmidt said during a public forum on Tuesday night.

Although only a dozen residents attended the forum at Newtown High School, commissioners said they were not discouraged or disappointed by the low attendance, but rather inspired by the questions and ideas that were brought to the table.

"We've had multiple different forums with different groups in town, and this is an opportunity for those who want to participate to chat with us and understand and ask questions," commission chairman Kyle Lyddy said.

The commission shared some of that feedback on Tuesday night, explaining that the majority of residents want to see the memorial function as a community gathering place.

"Most of the organizations in town want to participate," Schmidt said. "They want to do something."

Although the commission has yet to hammer out the details, Schmidt said the Newtown Lions Club is one of several organizations that already plan to donate to the cause.

Newtown resident Richmond Jones suggested a memorial park where the community could gather. A peace symbol would mark the center, surrounded by a cluster of 26 trees.

The commission, which has been working on the project for 18 months now, said it has not adopted any sort of timeline.

Along with reaching out to victims' families and residents, commissioners said they are also looking to other communities that have been affected by tragedy, including Virginia Tech.

Commissioners emphasized the importance of getting it right and asked for patience.

The next public forum is set for Jan. 29.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Blount Has Big Day vs. Colts]]>Mon, 19 Jan 2015 10:11:29 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/461744670.jpg

During last January's divisional playoff game against the Colts, LeGarrette Blount rushed for 166 yards on 24 carries, and scored four touchdowns. On Sunday, in the AFC Championship Game against -- you guessed it -- the Colts, Blount rushed 30 times for 148 yards and three more scores.

It's been quite the season for Blount, who signed with the Steelers in the offseason, but was released in Week 12 after he left the field early during a Titans game, presumably because he was unhappy with his playing time. The Patriots quickly signed him and in five games, Blount rushed for 281 yards (4.7 YPC) and three scores.

But on Sunday, he set the tone, one the Colts didn't have an answer for, and one that will be critical to the Patriots' chances when they face the Seahawks in the Super Bowl in two weeks.

"He ran his [butt] off, ran hard for four quarters," backfield mate Shane Vereen said of Blount, via ESPN.com. "Coming into the game, we didn't know what the game plan was going to be, because we didn't know really what to expect from the Colts' defense. We were expecting some wrinkles but we were able to run the ball."

Blount added: "I haven't had a feeling like this since I've been in the league. It's unreal. Now we have one more to get."

Meanwhile, there were never any concerns that Blount might be a locker-room problem upon returning to the Patriots.

"I remember walking in the locker room, 6:45, 7 o'clock, and he was sitting in his locker and my eyes lit up because I got my boy back," Vereen recalled. "We're so close. The whole team is so close, especially the running back group. He's a special player. He's comfortable around us and we feel he belongs here."

The Seahawks' defense is a formidable one, but the Packers had success running the ball early in Sunday's game. The Pats will try to replicate that success in the hopes that it opens things up for Tom Brady and the passing game.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lanza Report Spurs Mental Health Discussion]]>Mon, 24 Nov 2014 18:54:53 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/mentalhealthissues11242014.jpg

Last week's report detailing the mental health history of Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza has spurred officials to demand that more must be done to reform the state's mental health system.

“The Lanza report is damning in the sense that it tells us what we already knew that our mental health system is totally siloed where you have school psychologists not communicating with primary care, not communicating with our community mental health system,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy.

Murphy held his fourth round table discussion on the mental health system at the Clifford Beers Clinic in New Haven and used the Lanza report to start the conversation.

Clifford Beers Executive Director Dr. Alice Forrester explained that the report highlighted many wrongs in the system.

“Our system is fragmented and broken, so that someone who is seeking services can go out and get a list of services, maybe that they should have, but they're really on their own to find them,” said Forrester.

She said she agrees that the system must be reformed.

“Some of the folks that are not being served currently are the folks in the middle class, who have private insurance or who have no insurance,” said Forrester.

Many also argue that the federal government must step in to support those with mental health challenges.

“Resources are absolutely critical. We are shortchanging, particularly our children, and all men and women who are suffering from the profoundly hurtful and harmful, disabling effects of mental health,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Murphy plans to bring a reform bill to Washington during the next session. He said he'll be using the round table information to draft the bill and hopes it will receive bipartisan support.

<![CDATA[Sandy Hook Dad Dedicates Album to Daughter's "Beautiful Life"]]>Wed, 03 Dec 2014 16:03:12 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/jimmy+greene+album+cover.jpg

As the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings draws near, one young victim lives on through her father's music.

Six-year-old Ana Grace Marquez-Greene is the inspiration behind a new jazz CD entitled "Beautiful Life."

"Anna loved to sing and she loved music and she had a really beautiful singing voice," her father, Jimmy Greene, said. "I thought it would be a fitting tribute to have singers and vocalists on a recording of mine."

Greene, an established saxophone player who teaches music at Western Connecticut State University, said one song on the CD is a jazz version of "Maybe" from the musical "Annie," which Ana loved.

"She used to sing all the songs. She would sing all of them," said Greene. "'It's a Hard Knock Life,' 'Tomorrow,' but 'Maybe' was the one she especially loved to sing. Her little voice sounded so beautiful singing it."

Other tracks on the album hold sentimental value for Greene and remind him of memories made with his wife, Nelba Marquez-Greene, Ana and son, Isaiah, even if they were just playing in the background during a car ride together.

Greene composed three original songs, including "Last Summer," inspired by the picture on the album cover of Isaiah and Ana embracing.

"Nelba has such an eye for these great moments and she said, 'Why don't the two of you put your arms around one another?' The lighting, it's so beautiful," Greene recalled.

NBC's "The Voice" winner Javier Colon is featured on the album singing "When I Come Home." Colon and Greene, both Connecticut natives, met while studying at the University of Hartford's prestigious Hartt School.

A 13-piece string ensemble from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra also performs on the album.

Musician Harry Connick, Jr., who has supported the Sandy Hook community since the tragedy two years ago, recently tweeted his support for Greene.

Greene, who stays busy touring and teaching, is donating a portion of his CD's proceeds to two charities: The Ana Grace Project, which helps children who are victims of violence in partnership with Klingberg Family Centers, and the Artists Collective, which brings the arts to young people in Hartford.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[$5 Million Approved for New Sandy Hook School]]>Wed, 19 Nov 2014 19:03:17 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NewSHschoolPic00000000.jpg

The Connecticut Bond Commission has unanimously approved a $5 million grant for the construction of the new Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

The commission – which includes Gov. Dan Malloy, Treasurer Denise Nappier, and the secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, as well as members of the General Assembly – did not even discuss the matter before casting votes.

It comes nearly two years after the December 2012 shooting massacre that left 26 people dead including students and educators.

“Given that we are just a few weeks from the two year anniversary, I want everyone to know that the State of Connecticut joins everyone in Newtown in their resolve to move forward despite the most challenging of circumstances," Malloy told reporters immediately following the meeting.

With Wednesday's grant, the state Bond Commission has provided more than $12 million to Sandy Hook.

The Connecticut General Assembly previously allocated $50 million for the demolition of the original school as well as the construction of a new facility.

The new school sits on the same plot of land as the old facility. Construction is slated to be complete in 2016 in time for the school year.

The new Sandy Hook Elementary School will span approximately 87,000 square feet with 23 classrooms, a cafeteria with kitchen, library, gymnasium, and spaces for art and music.

“The action of the Bonding Commission today serves to remind us in Newtown and all through the state of the generosity and support of the Governor's Office and of virtually every state office and legislator. The new Sandy Hook School will become a reality in 2016 because of that generosity. We are humbled and thankful for the continuing kindness of our state partners," Newtown First Selectwomaan Patricia Llodra in a statement.

Construction crews broke ground on the foundation for the new school last month.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Jonas Gray Adds Running Game to Pats' Offense]]>Mon, 17 Nov 2014 10:28:10 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/jonas-gray-4tds.jpg

Jonas Gray didn't come out of nowhere but it wasn't far from there. He spent six weeks on the Patriots practice squad before injuries led the team to sign him to the 53-man roster. Before that, he was an undrafted free agent signed by the Dolphins who played at Notre Dame.

Gray entered Sunday night's game against the Colts with 32 career carries. Four quarters later, he had 38 carries for 199 yards and four touchdowns and the Pats cruised to a 42-20 victory. The last time a player scored four touchdowns in a game after having never previously scored at all? 1921. So, yes, this was a remarkable evening.

I'll probably go home tonight, when we get back around 4 a.m., and just lay in bed, look up at the ceiling and just be astonished at what's going on," Gray said, via ESPN.com. "Just writing a great story."

Part of that story includes Patriots owner Robert Kraft telling Gray that the young running back would play well against the Colts on Sunday Night Football.

"I remember walking into the building and Mr. Kraft pulled me aside and said, ‘You're going to have a big game this week, so be ready,'" Gray said. "Just hearing that from the owner, just hearing that from the head coach, hearing that from the leaders of the team definitely gives you a positive outlook and definitely gives you the mindset to go out and do your best."

Coach Bill Belichick admitted that Gray, who spent last season on the Ravens' practice squad serving, in his words, as a tackling dummy for Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs, almost made the team out of training camp

"We talked about that long and hard," the coach said. "We really talked about bringing him up on the roster several weeks before we did. I had several conversations with him in previous weeks, telling him, ‘You're close. We want to try to get you on the roster but right now we've had a couple other issues we've had to deal with.' I think we all felt as a coaching staff that he would be playing for us at some point this year at that final cut. Obviously we didn't want to expose him, but we did what we thought was best."

Now Gray is an integral part of the league's most explosive offense.

<![CDATA[Pats' Kraft Was Worried After Chiefs Loss]]>Fri, 07 Nov 2014 15:00:06 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob-kraft-tom-brady-high5.jpg

It's a little easier to be truthful when you've bounced back from a 2-2 start -- including a humiliating 41-14 blowout on national television -- when you're quarterback has returned to his Hall-of-Fame form and the team is currently on a five-game winning streak (including a blowout win of their own -- this time against the Broncos).

All that said, Patriots owner Robert Kraft admitted this week that he was "definitely worried" following that Chiefs beatdown for many of the same reasons as the rest of us: It looked like the Tom Brady era might finally be over.

“This isn’t a game of robots,” Kraft said, via the Providence Journal's Mark Daniels. “When you have probably a third to 40 percent of your roster as turnover, you don’t know if the mental toughness is there. I’m just happy it came back. The last five games have been outstanding.”

That's an understatement. Either way, the Patriots are in first place in the division and in the driver's seat for home-field advantage once the playoffs roll around.

“We started the season out there 2-2, and of course we got completely shellacked that Monday night out in Kansas City. It might be the worst beating I‘ve had as an owner and of course in the Belichick era it was the worst in the past 15 years,” Kraft continued. “I know all the sages in the media were calling for us to trade Tommy [Brady] or sit him and [Bill] Belichick had lost it. Maybe, in a way, it was a good thing. It shook us up. In moments of crisis, you either rise to great things or you crumble. Our guys came together.

“We have a great group of guys in the locker room. They really rallied. With all the credit Tommy and Bill get for the great jobs they do, we have a balance. Our defense is really solid. Having [Rob Gronkowski] back on the field, you can see what that means. Having [Darrelle] Revis and [Brandon] Browner in the secondary, I wish we had them in the [AFC] championship last year.”

The Patriots are currently on their bye. They'll travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts on Nov. 16.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sandy Hook Commission Invites Families to Speak]]>Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:12:20 -0500

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission announced today that it will hold a public hearing in the coming weeks in an effort to learn new information about the tragic school shootings before releasing its final recommendations and report. 

Commission members said they feel they're missing testimony from some families and will do “anything we can do to make sure their voice are heard,” according to commission member Kathleen Flaherty.

The panel of experts is looking at policy and procedure, especially when it comes to things like school safety and mental health.

“No one has been through more than the families. And even though we have extended invitations, I think we have an obligation to reach back out, not only to the families, but also the stakeholders,” said commission chairman Scott Jackson.

The commission plans to hold the public hearing within the next few weeks to avoid the time around the second anniversary of the shootings. It will likely take place in Newtown, although an exact location has yet to be determined.

“I would encourage us to work with and notify the town’s public officials because I think it’s incredibly important that they’re aware of what our goals are,” said Chris Lyddy.

Prior to the hearing, the commission plans to release a list of its initial recommendations for comment. The commission has not established a timeline as to when it will release its final report.

Neil Heslin and Nelba Marquez-Greene, the parents of two children killed in the 2012 school shooting, were originally expected to address the commission on Friday but did not attend the meeting.

<![CDATA[Key Players in Sandy Hook Testify Before Advisory Commission]]>Fri, 12 Sep 2014 17:38:52 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/91214sandyhookcommission00000000.jpgThe superintendent of schools and first selectman share their experiences with Gov. Malloy's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission.]]><![CDATA[Sandy Hook Responders Receive Awards]]>Tue, 08 Jul 2014 17:58:35 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/sandy+hook+ap.jpg

Connecticut State Police presented awards Tuesday to more than 300 state and local police officers who responded to Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012.

Commissioner Dora B. Schriro and State Police Col. Brian Meraviglia led the ceremony at Rentschler Field in East Hartford at 11:30 a.m. and gave medals to the first responders.

It was a solemn ceremony, and a year and a half after the tragedy, the air was still heavy with heartache.

"It's important that we recognize the professionalism and the good work that was done by many, many people," said State police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman were scheduled to address the award recipients at the event. 

"In the midst of disaster and despair, so many in Connecticut rose to the occasion," Malloy said.

Family members of Sandy Hook victims were also in attendance.

"It will always be in our minds," Vance said. "Our hearts will always be broken."

<![CDATA[Venezuelan Man Charged With Threatening Newtown Residents]]>Tue, 24 Jun 2014 05:56:50 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/venezuela+newtown+threat.jpg

Federal authorities have arrested the Venezuelan man accused of placing 96 threatening phone calls to families in Newtown two days after the fatal shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, per the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Wilfrido A. Cardenas Hoffman, 30, of El Hatillo, Venezuela, was arrested Saturday at Miami International Airport while traveling from Venezuela to Mexico, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Cardenas Hoffman is accused of threatening Newtown residents in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, on Dec. 16, 2012.

According to the official complaint filed May 20, 2013, Cardenas Hoffman used a program called iCall to place 96 phone calls to Newtown via the Internet.

In the calls, he claimed to be Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old who entered the school Dec. 14, 2012 and fatally shot 20 children and six educators, and threatened to kill the residents, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"All right. This is Adam Lanza. I'm gonna [expletive] kill you. You're dead. You're dead. You hear me? You're dead," he allegedly said in one of the calls.

Cardenas Hoffman is charged with transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce to injure another person. He appeared in federal court today and is due back Thursday. If convicted, he could serve up to five years in prison and pay a fine of up to $250,000.

“This complaint charges that Cardenas Hoffman made dozens of threatening telephone calls to residents of Newtown when they were suffering from one of the worst tragedies in our nation’s history,” said U.S. Attorney Dierdre M. Daly in a statement Monday. “Threatening such vulnerable people is reprehensible and inhuman criminal conduct. Further, it inappropriately stressed law enforcement resources at a critically demanding time. This case demonstrates the resolve of our office and the FBI to arrest individuals who believe that international boundaries will protect them from prosecution in the United States.”

The FBI is investigating and the U.S. Attorney's Office is prosecuting the case.

Photo Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Va. Police to Return Stolen Sandy Hook Memorial Signs]]>Wed, 04 Jun 2014 12:40:13 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/216*120/2014-06-04_0530.png

Police in Herndon, Virginia, are making a special trip to Connecticut Wednesday to return two signs stolen from parks honoring victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Andrew David Truelove, 28, is accused of stealing a memorial sign for 7-year-old Grace McDonnell from a park in Mystic, Connecticut, and another for 7-year-old Chase Kowalski from a park in Mantoloking, New Jersey. Both signs were stolen about a month ago.

After stealing the sign from the park honoring McDonnell, he called the slain girl's mother to say her daughter "never existed" and that the shooting was a hoax, according to one of the playground's supporters.

He was arrested in Herndon last week.

New signs have since been installed at the parks, so officers will return the stolen signs to McDonnell and Kowalski's parents.

"We think about Sandy Hook, we are all affected by Sandy Hook all the time," Herndon Police Chief Maggie DeBoard said last week. "And when you think about that and all the kids who were affected by that it's hard not to get emotional. And one of the things that our investigators talked about was having the honor of being able to take these signs back and hand them over to the families and put them back where they belong. That's most important to us."

Truelove's father, Alan, maintains that his son didn't steal the signs.

"They're chasing the wrong fella," Alan Truelove told NBC Washington. "So police have this investigation completely wrong."

Police in Virginia said grand larceny charges in Connecticut and New Jersey are pending. Investigators may upgrade his charges to felonies.

<![CDATA[Handmade Signs Show Up After Theft at Memorial Park]]>Wed, 14 May 2014 12:34:44 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Grace+McDonnell+temporary+signs.jpg

A vinyl peace sign will be reinstalled at a playground dedicated to a Sandy Hook shooting victim a week after a man stole it.

Last week, a man stole the 50-pound sign from a park dedicated to Grace McDonnell, then called her mother and claimed the school shooting was a hoax, according to one of the organizers of the group building the playground. 

Offers to replace the sign have since come from across the state and as far away as Florida.

The Where Angels Play Foundation has ordered a replacement sign and temporary handmade signs have been placed at the playground until it arrives.

The nearby YMCA will next work on a security strategy with the Stonington Police Department and police patrols will be increased at the playground.

Becky Morris, of Mystic, said the theft broke her heart, but the public response proves a simple act of kindness can always outweigh the bad.

"There's so much goodness and kindness and there's so much to be positive about, so focus on that,” Morris said. "Really, the worst bit for us is that somebody could suggest that Sandy Hook never happened and to do that to Grace's mom.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Compromise Reached in Location for Playground in Honor of Sandy Hook Victim]]>Tue, 15 Apr 2014 07:36:06 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Sandy+Hook+playground+1200a.jpg

A special meeting was held on Monday night to address the proposed West Haven location of one of the 26 “Where Angels Play” playgrounds and a compromise was reached.

The New Jersey-based Sandy Ground Project wanted to build a playground in an area near the Savin Rock Boardwalk in honor of Charlotte Bacon, one of the Sandy Hook School shooting victims.

“I think the playground is a great idea,” Nikita Reddy, a West Haven resident, said. “I think that is actually a beautiful idea.”

However, members of the West Haven Land Trust, which owns the land, had concerns that this would open the door to future expansion.

Carol Conroy was opposed to the proposed location and said it would attract development of the shore area.

“We don’t want this to become a commercial area,” Conroy said.

Some residents said the playground should be placed further down the boardwalk, where there are other playgrounds.

“There is a partial playground down there on the beach; a blue one and if they added to that or put a new one in, somewhere where we can keep both sets of people happy,” Conroy said.

On Monday night, the City Council voted to change the location to Sea Bluff Beach.

Organizers hope to begin building in June.

Photo Credit: Submitted]]>
( ) ( ) ( ) <![CDATA[Zumbathon Honors Sandy Hook Victim]]>Sat, 12 Apr 2014 21:10:37 -0500

It was a dance party in West Hartford Saturday evening as dozens came together for Ana Marquez-Greene, a young girl many at the event never met but who affected them deeply.

Ana was one of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. She grew up in Hartford and spent her time playing at Elizabeth Park where just last week, on what would have been her eighth birthday, a new purple playground was dedicated.

So Carla Butler began the Dance for Ana with Love Zumbathon Charity event last year after finding out how much Ana loved music and loved to dance.

"I read a tribute to Ana from mom and dad, and they said that she never walked because her mode of transportation was to dance," said Butler.

"Everybody has just stepped right up," said organizer Diana Stephens. "Everybody loves Sandy Hook. Everyone loves the Newtown victims, and we just want to continue to show the support to everybody."

Every penny raised goes to the Ana Grace Project, which works to build connections in communities, prevent violence, and help victims. For the people dancing it was a way to show how important Ana is to them.

"It's love. It's love. Mom's message is 'love wins,' and that's what this is showing: that people love," said Butler.

You can visit the Ana Grace Project online.

<![CDATA[West Haven Could Nix Sandy Hook Playground Proposal]]>Fri, 11 Apr 2014 18:19:28 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/west+haven+sandy+hook+playground.jpg

Some members of the West Haven Land Trust appear to be balking at a plan to build a playground to honor one of the victims of Sandy Hook.

In the 16 months since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, 18 playgrounds have been constructed in communities struck hard by Superstorm Sandy in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. The playgrounds are named in honor of some of the 26 victims of the tragedy.

There’s a proposal to build one in West Haven in honor of Charlotte Bacon, whose parents have fond memories of taking family trips to the West Haven shoreline.

Some members of the land trust aren't sold on the idea. They feel allowing the playground to be built could open the door to future expansion.

West Haven Mayor Ed O'Brien favors building the playground and says he is in talks with members of the land trust.

“I feel it should be done. It's the perfect fit for it,” said O’Brien. “There has to be some kind of balance. I'm not in favor of large-scale development. I don't think this playground is large-scale development.”

The playground would be built on a 55-by-75-foot grassy area in the Savin Rock section of West Haven. It's not much in terms of development, but business owners say they need all the help they can get.

"If you go to any shorefront communities, towns up and down the coast, the ones that thrive nurture and enhance [their shorelines],” said Paul Gagliardi, Jr. “Beautify it so that everybody gets to enjoy it.”

Gagliardi is a co-owner of Jimmies of Savin Rock, a restaurant that sits near the potential site for the playground. He welcomes the playground, and the economic boost he feels could come from it.

Members of the land trust did not return requests for comment.

Mayor O’Brien says he’ll meet with the land trust over the weekend, ahead of a City Council Meeting Monday evening.

The council will only decide whether to accept the gift of the playground from the Sandy Ground Project. The council will not make a decision on where the playground should go.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Public Input Leads to Newtown Aid Distribution Plan]]>Tue, 01 Apr 2014 14:19:43 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Newtown-1.jpg

More than a year after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a foundation created to distribute donations has made funding recommendations to address unmet needs of the needs of the community and continue to help Newtown heal.

The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, a nonprofit designed to distribute funding, released a report Tuesday following anonymous surveys and on-on-one meetings conducted by the Sandy Hook School Support Fund’s 2nd Distribution Committee between Dec. 16, 2013 and Jan. 31, 2014.

The surveys asked community members and survivors what kind of support and assistance they still needed and which resources they thought would best support them.

According to one of the surveys, one-on-one counseling, cash assistance, family and relationship counseling are among the resources most requested, followed by support groups, workshops, community activities, additional school security measures and support for school staff and first responders.

The report also found that family members of the victims and surviving children have experienced enduring mental health issues, and that families or surviving children often feel forgotten and “are struggling with significant family disruption” in the wake of the tragedy.

Additionally, the report expressed “grave concerns for the well-being” of several members of state police who were on scene that day. Some emergency responders haven’t wanted to seek mental health treatment due to stigmas around needing assistance and a lack of understanding of the resources available, according to the report.

Parents and community members are concerned about first responders and other affected individuals who have not sought the treatment they might need, according to the report.

According to a second survey that addresses barriers to getting help, primary roadblocks have been difficulty accessing services, lack of awareness and understanding about available funding resources, financial burdens and feeling discouraged, like nothing will help.

Barriers are most commonly experienced by family members of victims and surviving children, members of the Newtown Ambulance Corps, family members of first responders, teachers and school staff.

As a result, the foundation has put together a community recovery plan to help organize donations and funnel them to the people and services most in need. The committee recommends the following:

  • $75,000 to help with out-of-pocket mental health support costs
  • $75,000 toward a “financial needs fund” for affected individuals and families
  • $10,000 for community programming to foster a sense of unity
  • $40,000 for public education and training surrounding mental health concerns

The process will be repeated and the foundation will distribute funds again in the fall.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sandy Hook Architects Present New Designs]]>Wed, 26 Mar 2014 06:51:45 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/sh+design+2.jpg

Students and parents in Newtown, Conn. are getting an idea of what a new Sandy Hook Elementary School could look like.

The old Sandy Hook School was torn down after the December 2012 shootings that took the lives of 20 first-graders and six educators.

A new school will be built on the same property. More than 200 members of the community came together to share their vision for the new facility. 

New Haven-based architects Svigals + Partners, the firm that is designing the school, presented those designs for the first time to the entire Public Building and Site Commission on Tuesday night.

The architects incorporated nature into the design.

"Having more access to nature on an everyday basis improves the life in the school, it improves the learning environment and it improves us as people," Jay Brotman, of Svigals + Partners, said.

"So far so good ... as far as architecturally, making it a more open school and incorporating nature into the school," said Steve Uhde, a local parent.

He attended attended Sandy Hook Elementary, as did his son.

Barry Svigals, of Svigals + Partners, said the site has been designed "so that the school that we create really could not be any place else and it's resonant with what their aspirations are for the school and what the history of the town has been."

The renderings show a school designed with a Main Street theme, including open-air learning and stone walls to create a sense of safety.

"They really know what Sandy Hook is," Robert Mitchell, chairman of the public building commission, said. "Now it's Newtown, but Sandy Hook is a very special part, and they're really incorporating what we are."

Overall, the commission member said they are pleased.

"We're very much in a natural setting. It's very unusual to have this kind of opportunity. We're surrounded by wetlands and hills and trees," Mitchell said.

The new design takes advantage of those resources but still provides a safe place to go.

"When the children walk into the school, they should go 'Wow what a great place to learn," Mitchell said. "It's an educational experience what we're creating here and we want to enhance that experience."

The architects are still-fine tuning the design and hope the school can open by 2016.

They said the site where the shootings happened are not being touched. It's unclear what will go there now.

Photo Credit: Svigals + Partners]]>
<![CDATA[Father of Sandy Hook Killer: 'You Can't Get Any More Evil']]>Mon, 10 Mar 2014 18:06:46 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/adam+lanza+search+warrants.jpgSpeaking publicly for the first time, the father of the Newtown, Conn., school killer says he wishes his son had never been born.
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<![CDATA[Company Apologizes for Using Sandy Hook Photo in Ad]]>Thu, 30 Jan 2014 19:48:25 -0500https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/sandy+hook+window+shattered.jpg

A security company has apologized for using a crime scene photo from inside Sandy Hook Elementary School as part of an advertisement.

The company, Commercial Window Shield, emailed the ad to towns earlier this week.

It included a picture of a window at the front entrance of Sandy Hook that had been shattered by gunfire. The email said Commercial Window Shield's shatter-resistant window film could help keep out unwanted intruders.

“I didn't even start reading the article, I just stopped right there and said 'this is what is wrong with this country,'” said Monroe First Selectman Steve Vavrek. “This company wanted to sell safety glass. This company has sold safety glass to other people in Connecticut. I just think it's the wrong thing to do to profit off a crime like this and show pictures of it."

Monroe, a town neighboring Newtown, opened up one of its schools to the students of Sandy Hook, who continue to attend classes there until a new Sandy Hook Elementary School is built.

Vavrek and Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra sent emails to the company expressing their disgust.

“What I wrote to them was basically that this was insensitive. I think they owe the people of Newtown an apology for using this crime to build their business,” said Vavrek.

The company issued an apology to Llodra via email on Wednesday.

"As you may know, we sent out an email yesterday regarding the installation of security window film. Although it was not our intention, we understand that the email was insensitive and disrespectful. Our intention was not to profit from a tragedy. Security window film is a current topic of discussion among many schools and towns throughout the country, and we were attempting to shine light on this safety measure. We took the wrong approach with the email, and would like to offer our most sincere apologies; not only to those that received this email but also to the entire Newtown community," the email read.

Llodra accepted the apology in an email sent back to the company.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police]]>