Vermonters are reacting with shock and sadness to news of a tragic shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Officials say a gunman killed 27 people, including 20 children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School. CBS News reports the gunman, identified as Adam Lanza, was dead in the school. His older brother, Ryan, is being questioned. An earlier report from a law enforcement official mistakenly mixed up the brothers' names and identified Ryan as the shooter. Lanza's mother was reportedly a teacher at the school. She and some of her students were among the victims.
President Barack Obama spoke to the nation Friday afternoon. He held back tears, saying, "our hearts are broken today." The president said the nation must come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of politics. He ordered flags flown at half-staff.
Vermonters are reacting to the news with shock and sadness.
Gov. Peter Shumlin says principals and staff at Vermont schools are "especially vigilant" following the shooting in Connecticut. He said parents and students should know that nearly all Vermont schools have emergency plans and security in place.
Vermont Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca encouraged all Vermont schools to review their school safety plans to ensure that they are current and to review the School Crisis Plan guide.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders released this statement: "Today the people of Newtown, Conn., and all of America experienced a terrible tragedy. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and their loved ones. As a nation, we must do all that we can to figure out how tragedies like this do not continue to occur."
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin issued this statement: "I was shocked and sickened to hear about this morning's tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. My office has spoken with Vermont State Police and the Vermont Principals Association, who report that principals and staff are especially vigilant in the aftermath of this morning's tragedy. Parents and students should know that nearly all Vermont schools have emergency plans and security in place. Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca has also asked all schools to review their safety plans to ensure they are current. As a parent, I am heartbroken by this tragedy, and my heart and thoughts are with the loved ones of the victims in Connecticut."
Vermont Public Safety officials released these statements:
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families in the in Newtown, Connecticut school shooting," said Vt. Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn. "During this time of tragedy, it is important to remain vigilant in our public safety efforts through pre-planning and training. Public safety officials will continue to work with the Department of Education and schools across Vermont to help ensure the safety and security of our children."
"The Vermont State Police will make available any necessary resources for the law enforcement community in Newtown, Connecticut," said Vt. State Police Col. Tom L'Esperance. "While they continue investigate and recover from one of the worst K-12 school shootings in our nation's history."
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger released this statement: "I am saddened and appalled by today's horrible shooting. My heart goes out to the victims and their families in Newtown, CT. Here in Burlington, the School District has posted on its website www.bsdvt.org helpful guidance for parents and students about how to address such a tragedy. The District also will be holding a meeting on Monday to review school safety protocols. As a parent of an elementary school student, I am deeply moved by this tragedy and wish the people of Newtown strength for the difficult time ahead."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued this statement: "I was shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School this morning in Newtown, Connecticut. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the innocent victims - many of whom were young children - whose lives were claimed by this senseless and horrific act of violence. During times of such unthinkable tragedy, all New Yorkers stand together with the people of our neighboring state to grieve the loss of life and help bear the pain and anguish that will be felt by so many in the weeks, months, and years to come.
"While we don't have all the facts and our focus must be on the victims, this is yet another senseless and horrific act of violence involving guns. We as a society must unify and once and for all crack down on the guns that have cost the lives of far too many innocent Americans. Let this terrible tragedy finally be the wake-up call for aggressive action and I pledge my full support in that effort."
New York Sen. Chuck. Schumer released this statement: "The horror of what happened is beyond words and leaves a permanent lump in your throat. To senselessly lose so many innocent lives breaks your heart. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who lost a loved one today, to all who are injured, and to those that survived. The people of New York will help in any way we can as our fellow citizens struggle to comprehend today's events. Perhaps an awful tragedy like this will bring us together so we can do what it takes to prevent this horror from being repeated again."
New Hampshire Governor John Lynch is expressing sympathy for the victims. Lynch called Friday's shooting a horrible tragedy that took many innocent lives. He said his prayers and thoughts go out to those who were wounded or killed and to their loved ones.
New Hampshire Governor-elect Maggie Hassan called the shooting "an unbelievable and senseless tragedy." She said her thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, families, students, teachers and entire community.
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