Here's what I know: Some kids turn out right. Some kids turn out wrong. Sometimes it's the parents' fault. Sometimes it isn't. And there are deranged people in every significant group you can name-- every race, class, level of intellect, etc. Being on the autism spectrum-- if that's the case-- didn't turn this kid into a mass murderer.
I don't want to jump to any particular conclusions because I just don't know. Was he evil? Was he hearing voices and completely out of touch with reality? Was the mother also mentally ill? I would suggest that if you're tempted to believe anything you read in the media at the moment, please keep in mind that this is the same media that told us:
-The shooter was Ryan Lanza
-He was the father of a student
-He killed his mother at the school, where she was a kindergarten teacher
-Oops, she wasn't a kindergarten teacher after all. She must have been a substitute.
-He killed his father and brother, too.
-Everyone he killed was in kindergarten.
-and so on.
I couldn't even keep up with the reams of misinformation. Now I can't do anything other than make wild guesses about the motive and background on all this, and mostly all that does is get me angry (how could the mother have all those guns in the house with a troubled son?), so I'll just stick to what I do know.
What I know is that there were heroes that day who deserve to be remembered. I know that principal Dawn Hochsprung was in a meeting with a parent and staff members when she heard gunshots... and that she and school psychologist Mary Sherlach ran in the direction of those gunshots rather than hiding under the desk. They were killed trying to stop the shooter. If you would like to send your condolences, the principal's daughters are on Twitter: @Chass63 and @E_Laffs2, and her son-in-law is @Rhassin.
Thank you, teacher Anne Marie Murphy, for caring so much about a special needs student who loved you that you cradled him in your arms as you both died.
To clerk Mary Ann Jacob, who ran across the hall to warn another class to lock their door because she'd heard gun shots, and then ushered kids into the library to hide, thank you.
Vicki Soto hid her students in closets and cabinets and then told the shooter they were in the gym. She gave her life for them. Thank you for saving their lives. You can send condolences to her sister on Twitter at @ICarlee23.
To the thus-far-unnamed custodian who ran through the halls telling students, "Get down! Hide!" because he'd heard gunshots, thank you.
First grade teacher Kaitlin Roag rushed all of her students into a small bathroom and told them she loved them and they'd be okay... and they were. Not only is her bravery remarkable, but so is her compassion for those students and her willingness to share their story with all of us. I'm sure it was not easy reliving it in front of a video camera, but it provided us with greater understanding.
The music teacher, Maryrose Kristopik, barricaded the door with her own body and got her students into closets. The shooter banged on the door and tried to get in, but he did not succeed. Thank you for saving their lives.
To whomever turned on the intercom so the staff could hear the commotion and understand what was going on, thank you.
Thank you to the first responders, the clergy, the neighbors, the people who stood up to the ridiculous hate group that tried to picket the funerals, the donors, and everyone else who has done anything to help Newtown and the Sandy Hook families during this time of grief.
To the countless others whose names and stories I don't know, you are no less important because I haven't named you. Thank you to all of our heroes.
There are a number of ways you can help or send support Sandy Hook's way. Here are the ones I've heard about:
- Join in Ann Curry's "26 acts of kindness" to honor the 26 victims at Sandy Hook.
- Donate to a scholarship fund in Lauren Rousseau's name, started by her sorority.
- Make snowflakes to decorate the Sandy Hook Elementary School's new building, so students can see a "winter wonderland" of support when they go back to school:
- The US Postal Service has established a PO Box for people to send letters of condolence to the residents of Newtown. Please address mail to: Message of Condolence, PO Box 3700, Newtown, CT 06470.
- The United Way has established a Sandy Hook School Support Fund.
- Contribute to a fund to establish a memorial: http://www.newtownmemorialfund.org.
- Sign this petition to classify the funeral picketers as a hate group and take away their tax-exempt status.
I welcome other suggestions in the comments. Let's do what we can to help their community.