The Sandy Hook Tragedy: An Inquisitive Visit to Newtown, Connecticut
Text and Photos by Scott DeLarm
Edited by Prof. James F. Tracy
My partner and I became fed up with the mainstream media’s depiction of what took place in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012.
So on January 20 we traveled there from our home in Ottawa, Canada in an effort to visit the sites and respectfully approach the locals.
Before we even got off the highway there was a display of dozens of American flags on the shoulder. There is a large tented memorial located just off the freeway. The tent had a sign on the outside, “Sandy Hook Memorial Never Forgotten.”
Inside the tent was a chaplain who asked that I not take any photos. There were hundreds of stuffed animals and candles as well as children’s art from around the country–if not the world. Inside was also a donation jar that was at mid-afternoon close to full of money.
We signed one of the boards with condolences from Canada. I saw adults and children inside the tent on the two visits we made. No one was there who was impacted directly. I asked the chaplain if she had seen any children whom had been impacted. She did not answer.
We spent January 21 in Newtown visiting the Sandy Hook School and Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire House, Gene Rosen’s residence, the 100 Church Hill Restaurant (and pub), the Newtown Bee offices, as well as the Newtown Police Department.
We found that the school can not be seen from the front when coming down Riverside Road which is the only access to the school passing the fire house. This may explain why there was no “media” photos of the broken / shot out glass at the front.
Dickenson Road was closed with layers of orange cones and numerous “No Trespassing” signs. The entire school is now enclosed with fencing, barbed wire, no trespass and surveillance signage.
The front of the school is entirely boarded up which would be consistent with broken glass. The lettering from the front of the school “Sandy Hook Elementary” is removed.
The side door and other windows were not boarded up. No cameras could be seen at the front door or anywhere on the property.
Gene Rosen lives next door to the fire house. Thus Ms. Victoria Soto’s students that landed on Mr. Rosen’s yard had to come down Dickenson Drive and turn right, passing the fire house, to get to Mr. Rosen’s. A lady at the Rosen house would not answer the door when I knocked.
We sat at the 100 Church Hill Restaurant for a couple of hours. There were about 10 people inside.
There were about 100 drawings from children from around the country (if not the world) offering condolences and well wishes. No one was talking about these. My partner and I spoke with a couple in their early twenties for an hour or so. They were life long locals.
Eventually they asked why we were in Newtown and we told them we had heard of their tragedy. They did not comment further and we did not push the issue.
We then went to the offices of The Newtown Bee, the community’s weekly newspaper, where we spoke with the editor, Mr. Curtis Clark. Mr. Clark did not offer a warm reception and stated from the start that they were concentrating the paper’s efforts on healing efforts and that he had little time. I told him I was there to follow up on The Bee’s report that stated, in part, “A man with a gun who was spotted in the woods near the school on the day of the incident was an off-duty tactical squad police officer from another town, according to the source.” I asked who this officer was, and why he was in the woods.
Mr. Clark told me that there was a number of “conspiracy theories floating around” and “some of them even suggest that the shooting didn’t even happen.” Furthermore, “Snopes.com debunks many of these conspiracy theories.”
I told Clark I was familiar with Snopes, but it was The Bee that reported that this was an off duty officer prancing about in the woods on the day of the shooting. Clark would not address this report and became very agitated with me “interrogating” him. “I don’t intend to discuss this any further with you,” he said. Mr. Clark then referred me to the Newtown Police for any additional questions. As I was walking out of the office I overheard a lady on the phone explaining to a caller that “there is an ongoing investigation,” and referring the caller to Snopes.com.
Next, we proceeded to the Newtown Police Department. After entering I walked up to the glassed-in safety window, picked up the phone on the wall and asked the attendant on the other side if I could speak with the Communications Officer. I explained why. He directed me to The Newtown Bee.
I advised him that The Bee had directed me to them and he asked me to have a seat. The room was rectangular with doors on both ends. Then, a male and female police officer simultaneously entered through each door. I addressed the female sergeant, telling her I would like to know who was the off duty tactical officer The Bee reported on on December 27. A male officer I was not addressing repeatedly ordered me to remove my hands from my pockets.
The female sergeant told me that the man detained was the uncle of a student at the school who had gone to get his niece. I asked about the police scanner audio where the dispatcher reports that a caller from inside the school saw “two shadows” run by the gym at the back of the school.
Additionally, an officer apparently arriving at the scene stated
“I’ve got ‘em (sic). They are running at me down Crestwood.”
Crestwood Drive borders that backside of the school beyond some woods. The sergeant told me that this was the confusion of the day and that there were not two individuals. “It was just someone that went crazy, killed a bunch of people and then killed himself,” she said consolingly.
“You have nothing to worry about. You are safe.”
I still wonder.
Edited by Prof. James F. Tracy