Schools in Newtown, Connecticut will reopen today for the first time since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which is an active crime scene and remains closed. Classes there are still suspended, but classes will resume two hours later than usual in the rest of the district. "For the students and their families, it's a return to a healthy and helpful routine," Zoraida Sambolin says. CNN’s Sandra Endo has the story on Newtown students returning to school.
“Grief and shock may replace subjects like reading and math when kids return to class in Newtown,” Endo says, “but facing fear may be the first step to overcome this tragedy.” All schools in Newtown were closed Monday as teachers and administrators trained with national expert on kids and bereavement to prepare for the students' return.
The solution many parents agreed with is getting kids back to school for some sense of normalcy. For Sandy Hook’s kids, that will eventually be by attending classes at Chaulk Hill School in neighboring Monroe. Furniture and supplies were moved there so “when the children come in whenever the school has started,” Steve Varek says, “they walk into a classroom that looks as close as possible as their classroom that they left.”
Newtown, Connecticut is a town in the prayers of the entire country today. As the nation grieves in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, people all over the country are debating two old arguments over gun control and America’s mental heath system with renewed vigor. California Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack expressed concerns about the mental health system over the weekend. She and her husband, Florida Congressman Connie Mack, join the show with their thoughts this morning. Both are republicans, and both are leaving congress when this term is up.
Congressman Connie Mack mentions the mental health information coming in about the gunman and “the challenges that this young man had.” Rep. Connie Mack says, “There’s warning signs left and right about this young man. We need to have our communities in a position where they can recognize those warning signs and then act on those warning signs.”
Rep. Mary Bono Mack talks about the role of the government when it comes to mental health. “I think we have to recognize that mental health is a part of physical health, and treat it as such, and highlight the importance of it and the need for it in our society,” Rep. Mary Bono Mack says. “But it isn’t just a governmental role. It’s a family role. It’s a societal role. It’s a cultural role. It’s everywhere.”
Newtown, Connecticut is a community in the prayers of the entire country today. As the nation grieves the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, experts are examining how it could have been prevented. Dr. Irwin Redlener is the Head of Columbia University National Center for Disaster Preparedness. He joins Soledad O’Brien live in Newtown this morning with his advice. Dr. Redlener is also the President and Co-Founder of the Children's Health Fund.
Dr. Redlener reflects on the response the administrators and students had during the tragedy. He says the Sandy Hook Elementary School faculty was actually very prepared and had trained for emergencies. Dr. Redlener says there was “heroism and a really defined plan of action” here.
He stresses the need for schools all over the country to be prepared for all kinds of emergencies. “It is very important that people are keeping their heads, they’re following a plan, they know what to do and they’re keeping things under as much control as possible under the worst possible circumstances.”
Administrators and teachers at Sandy Hook are being hailed for their heroism for saving the lives of the children before worrying about themselves. One of those teachers was 27-year-old Victoria Soto. Soto shielded her first grade students from harm when she hid them in a closet before the gunman entered her classroom. She was shot and killed. Zoraida Sambolin shares her story through the words of her family.
“Vicki Soto's family says the first grade teacher died doing what she loved, and spent her final moments protecting the children that meant the world to her,” Sambolin reports. Her sister, Jillian Soto, says, “There's kids now that will be able to say that they're here today because she sacrificed her life so they could live another day.”
Her mother Donna Soto says she is not surprised by her daughter's actions. “She was truly selfless. She would not hesitate to think to save anyone else before herself and especially children,” Donna says. “She loved them more than life and she would definitely put herself in front of them any day, any day and for any reason.”
Disturbing new details were revealed this morning in the shooting rampage at Oikos University yesterday in Oakland, Calif.
Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan explains the investigation to Ashleigh Banfield on "Early Start" this morning, saying the shooter has been talking with police overnight and has provided more information on what happened. The suspect, 43-year-old One Goh, opened fire at the small religious college allegedly because he was upset at the school for dismissing him.
Jordan explains the shooter walked into the school's single-story building on Monday, took a receptionist hostage and went looking for a particular female administrator. Goh wanted to exact revenge on a particular female administrator and inflict harm on the school. The victims were random, and they were unable to resist him because it all happened so quickly.Jordan declined to say the name of the administrator, or if she was on site when the shooting occurred.
Jordan said Goh lined up all his victims in a classroom and began shooting them one by one, then left for a short period of time, came back went through other parts of the school just shooting. "He casually walked out and left in one of the victim's vehicles," Jordan added. He also explained that there was a point where Goh had a chance to reload and fire multiple rounds.
"He came back into the classroom after he left, went to another location, and began shooting again because he realized that there were other students hiding in the adjacent classroom," Jordan explains. "He began shooting into that classroom again. Then left out the back, not through the same entrance that he came in." He added that though they have not located the weapon, they have enough ballistics evidence to determine it was a semi-automatic handgun.
Charges are expected to be filed Wednesday. See the full interview below.