Newtown: A little Irish American girl, six-year-old Grace McDonnell died in the gun attack .
Retired couple William and Susan Kane Neilson, live at the point where Churchill Road meets The Glen Road in the center of Sandy Hook near the school where the massacre occurred.
They can see the school from their upstairs in their bedroom. Their daughter-in-law works at the Sandy Hook elementary school. She barely survived.
Susan, who claims Irish roots, her maiden name was Kane, cried and told how her daughter in-law, Terry, had locked herself in a closet at the school during the shooting with two other teachers.
“They stayed there for an hour and a half. "
The couple has been receiving calls from people all over the country all evening. "People we haven't heard from in years are calling us."
William, her soft spoken husband said that he saw kids like this all of the time when he worked at the mental institution. “They are just cold, when they have this psychosis.
“I worked with kids who ended up killing their girlfriends, killing their entire families."
But William could not answer the question on how to prevent something happening like this. "It's an open society, we can't do anything to prevent it. We can't predict it."
Susan said how she saw parents driving towards the school as news broke that something devastating was happening. "I just watched it all unfold. I watched parents park their cars in the middle of the road, get out and just run towards the school.”
The streets here are thronged with men and women carrying black aluminum camera stands. The small stream that runs through Sandy Hook is called Pootatuck. First white settlements started in this area around the 1660’s and 1670’s. A local said to this reporter that “Yea, this is Newtown now, we’ve got a label now. This is what we’ll be known for.
A Newtown student recently back from studying in Ireland recounted how stunned he was when news of the killings reached him.
Twenty-one-year-old Conor Collier, who has lived in Sandy Hook all his life, is Irish American. “I studied last fall in NUIG, I am majoring in English, so I was taking English in my classes in Galway. That’s the only reason I’m talking to you," he said.
Collier’s friendly almost jovial demeanor became sullen. “We are a tight knit community here, you know. It’s so sad. I was in high school with Lanza. He was a year below me, but when I saw a picture of him, I didn’t recognize him. That’s weird for here, because everyone knows everyone here.
“My sister was very close to a family who lost a six year old. I just don’t understand it.”
“Me and my friend, Patrick Gordon Shine have set up a fundraiser. Just to do something for the families. We don’t know what money will do, but hopefully it will do something.”
As the sun rose on the frost bitten rolling hills of the Sandy Hook community in Newtown, news teams left their hotels and went out into the cold sharp morning air.
Last night locals said that people ‘were getting up in arms’ about the overwhelming media presence.
One woman, in a fit of wearied sorrow roared: “How dare you come into our town? I cannot even make my way across town because of all the barricades.”
Today, in this picture perfect, postcard town people seem to have accepted the juggernaut news teams holding cameras, sound booms, microphones, notepads. Choppers populate the sky.
This morning local woman, Victoria Munoz agreed to be interviewed at the side of the street, “I’ve never seen this town so packed before. I think that it could have been overbearing, but the real thing I take from this is that there is huge attention to the hurt that we’re feeling right now. I think that’s good.”
An upset woman, Kelly, who gave this reporter a lift in her black Ford jeep described to how she felt: “I think people in the town feel wrong about doing basic errands. I went to the bank earlier and I just felt that I shouldn’t be doing this”
An elementary school teacher herself, she could not listen to the news on her radio. ”I just can’t listen to the news anymore. It’s just awful. Awful isn’t even the right word. I don’t think there’s a word for what has happened here.”
Newtown is a very tight knit community exceedingly so, according to Shannon Doherty, who said that his ancestors had come over from Leitrim during the famine. His tale was one of relief. Their children attended another school in the area, but knew that they would know some of the victims when details are to emerge.
Shannon who attended the school as a child, stood outside on the pavement. He said that he didn't know what to do. “I have two children, Eammon and Teigan.
"My son will have lost a friend. I don't know how we're going to tell them, there is no blueprint for this. The look on my daughter's face was not good, my son was scared because he will know people. So what will I tell them? I'll probably tell them that they are safe. that the guy who did this is gone. We'll try and get them back into some routine. My biggest fear is how this will affect them.”
A very tight knit community here, exceedingly so, now torn apart by an unbelievable act of savagery. A chronicle of hatred in a town full of normality, and every day things, now changed for ever, the laughter of the children stilled.
Log in with your social accounts:
Or, log in with your IrishCentral account:
Don't have an account yet? Register now !
Join IrishCentral with your social accounts:
Already have an account ? Log in
Or, sign up for an IrishCentral account below:
Make sure we gathered the correct information from you
You already have an account on IrishCentral! Please confirm you're the owner.
Our new policy requires our users to save a first and last name. Please update your account: