ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/CBS News) – Gov. Mark Dayton issued a statement on Friday afternoon in response to news that a gunman opened fire inside a Connecticut elementary school, killing 26 people, including 20 children.
“This dastardly, cold-blooded murder of innocent children and their educators by a deranged individual shocks Minnesotans. All of our children, their parents, and all of their teachers should feel certain every day that their safety is the paramount concern,” Dayton said. “The deepest condolences of Minnesotans go to the parents and families of the victims of this horrific act.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, in a statement, called the incident “heartbreaking.”
“As a mother, I cannot fathom the grief of the parents who lost their children today,” she said. “My thoughts and prayers are with all the children, teachers, their families and loved ones on this tragic day.”
As a sign of respect, the governor ordered all flags at state and federal buildings to be lowered to half-staff from Friday evening until sunset on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
CBS News reported that six adults were killed in the Friday morning shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The gunman, who has been identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Lanza is originally from the Newtown area. The gunman’s older brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, was originally thought to be the suspect.
Lanza’s mother worked at the school and is among the dead. Her body was found inside her home. Lanza apparently targeted his mother’s classroom. Most of the shooting occurred in that classroom, and some of her students were among those killed.
Law enforcement sources say the gunman apparently drove to the school from New Jersey. A law enforcement official in Washington told The Associated Press that New Jersey State Police were searching a location in that state in connection with the shootings.
How To Talk To Children About Tragedy
Parents around the country may have to answer some difficult questions from their own children after a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
“Each child responds to it in very different ways,” said Tom Steinmetz of the Washburn Center for Children.
As children watch the images, Steinmetz says there are dos and don’ts when talking to your kids about this tragedy.
He said the first, and most important, step is to validate your child’s concerns.
“Take the time to really sit and listen to your child, and hear what they’re saying,” Steinmetz said.
Steinmetz said scenes from the shooting will likely instill fear. Parents should focus on reinforcing a sense of security and normalcy, letting their child know the adults in their life will do what they can to keep the kids safe.
Parents should not dismiss their child’s attempts to talk about the shooting. But don’t overexpose your child to the images coming out Sandy Hook.
“Seeing repeated images, repeated stories about this can add to the sense of trauma fear or worry,” Steinmetz said.
Also, don’t add to any panic or fear.
“The child is going to experience enough fear, it’s best not to do things that are going to feed into it and create more worry, or panic, or fear in a child,” said Steinmetz.
Many schools are sharing this advice with parents through emails. The Washburn Center also has a list of resources, click here for more.