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Front Page December 21, 2012  RSS feed

Sunnyside Remembers Newtown

Vigil For Massacre Victims As Pols Call For Action
by Sam Goldman

Some of Sunnyside’s youngest residents came with candles and photos in hand to honor the victims of the Friday, Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown, Conn. during a Tuesday, Dec. 18 remembrance. 
(photo: Nicholas Biondo) Some of Sunnyside’s youngest residents came with candles and photos in hand to honor the victims of the Friday, Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown, Conn. during a Tuesday, Dec. 18 remembrance. (photo: Nicholas Biondo) Sunnyside residents gathered together on Tuesday, Dec. 18 to remember the vicitms of the Friday, Dec. 14 shooting in a classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., as elected officials offered statements of sympathy and calls to prevent such tragedies from ever happening again.

The crowd at Sunnyside Gardens Park gathers to honor the victims of the Friday, Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn. 
(photo: Nicholas Biondo) The crowd at Sunnyside Gardens Park gathers to honor the victims of the Friday, Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn. (photo: Nicholas Biondo) Last Friday, 26 people, including 20 children, were killed at the school by 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who had killed his mother at their home earlier that morning. After executing the students and six school employees, he turned the gun on himself.

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer held a candlelight vigil on Tuesday, which began at Sunnyside Reformed Church and ended at Sunnyside Gardens Park.

In a press release, it was noted that six-year-old son Benjamin Wheeler, a victim of the shooting, was born in New York and was raised in Sunnyside by his parents, Francine and David Cole Wheeler.

Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who lost her life in the shooting as well, had family members who live in the area, according to news reports. de Blasio speaks to congregation

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio also addressed the tragedy in a Sunday, Dec. 16 speech at Evangelical Crusade Fishers of Men Church in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

“All of us as New Yorkers, we are not strangers to too many guns amongst us,” he said. “We know what it means to have people with guns who shouldn’t have them. We know what it means to have people caught in stray shootings. We know what it means that there is not the kind of control of weapons both legal and illegal and how it affects our neighborhoods, our friends, our families.

“But now we’ve been given an entirely different look at this because more than ever before, children were lost,” de Blasio added. “We can all understand what it would be like to get that call to come to the school because maybe your child is no longer alive. Imagine the pain those parents felt.”

Releases convey sadness, anger

“With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their ABCs are safe,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on behalf of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group he cofounded, in a Friday statement.

“We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns,” he continued. “President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership—not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response.”

"I was shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School this morning in Newtown, Conn,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a Friday statement. “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.”

“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,” he added. “Let this terrible tragedy finally be the wake-up call for aggressive action and I pledge my full support in that effort."

Cuomo would order all state flags to be flown at half-staff on Saturday, Dec. 15.

In a joint statement, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Council Members Jumaane Williams and Fernando Cabrera (co-chairs of the Council Task Force to Combat Gun Violence) said last Friday that “we are horrified by the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Words cannot express the damage done to this community and our nation as a whole. Our hearts go out to the families of Newtown, Conn. on this terrible day,”

“This tragedy is an urgent reminder that we must strengthen the call for serious gun control reform,” the statement continued. “From Columbine to Oak Creek, from Aurora to Newtown, our country cannot and must not live in fear of weapons designed to kill. We pray that elected leaders, regardless of background, can put a stop to this madness and help save lives.”

“The students and their families and the teachers and employees at Sandy Hook Elementary School are in my thoughts and prayers today. Like all Americans, my heart is heavy with grief for the members of this community who have been devastated by this horrible, senseless act of violence,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney last Friday.

“Our first thoughts must be with the families of those killed and injured today,” she added. “But we can no longer allow tragedies—like Columbine, and Virginia Tech, and Tucson, and Aurora, and Newtown— to occur over and over without finally taking meaningful action to prevent them from happening again. Together as Americans, we must engage each other in a civil discourse about ways to deter would-be mass killers who are currently able to legally purchase guns and ammunition more easily than they could register an automobile.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the innocent victims of today’s horrific massacre,” said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman in a Friday statement. “We stand with the people of Connecticut during this moment of unspeakable tragedy.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent children, teachers and families of Newtown,” noted City Comptroller John C. Liu in his own statement on Friday. “As I await my child's dismissal from school, I can only imagine with horror the pain being felt throughout the community in the face of such senseless violence and devastating loss.”

“We give our deepest of sentiments and fiercest of prayers for the victims and family of those of our brothers and sisters impacted in Newtown, Conn. today,” said State Sen. Malcolm Smith in a Friday statement. “The sting of the loss of many precious lives today will stay with us all for a long time, but hope will endure. This latest incident underscores the urgent need for serious gun reform and aggressive anti-gun initiatives throughout every city and state in the country.”

Walcott tells teachers of safety measures

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott issued a statement last Friday for city school teachers.

“In the wake of such an event, you and members of your school community may be faced with questions about your own safety,” he noted. “We have been in constant communication with the NYPD and their School Safety Division, whose vigilance keeps our schools safe.”

“I know that each of you has done a lot to prepare your Building Response Team to work with first responders in the event of an emergency. I encourage you to guide your staff and students in maintaining your school’s regular schedule and continuing to be sensitive to the needs of your students as they learn more about this loss.”