2012-12-13 / Front Page

Connecticut Horror Too Close To Home

Just 19 miles from Putnam
by Eric Gross

Friday’s mass carnage at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct., was too close to home—19 miles from the Putnam County border.

The death of innocent children and dedicated educators reverberated throughout the region when television and radio reports pre-empted all programming and stopped people in their tracks.

 Shoppers at the Putnam Plaza in Carmel wept when learning of the deaths of dozens of victims caused at the hand of a deranged young man less than a half hour away.

Mary Shannon called the day “one of America’s darkest hours. How can a man kill innocent babies?”

Her friend Allison Tucker couldn’t imagine the horror facing the victims and the “loss of a child. These innocent young children were cut down at the prime of their lives. What a tragedy?”

Ironically, members of the Putnam County Emergency Response Team—a highly trained group of officers used when crises of this type occur—were training Friday in Carmel.

Sheriff Don Smith said the team members contacted officials in Connecticut and offered their assistance: “Our ERT was thanked but since the scene in Connecticut was secured in a matter of minutes, there was no need for the local police to respond.”

Danbury Hospital was placed on lockdown since several of the shooting victims were brought to the medical center necessitating Putnam EMS headed to Danbury with trauma patients to divert their ambulances and rescue rigs to either Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla or Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Cortlandt. Putnam Hospital Center was not affected.

Schools throughout Putnam monitored the situation throughout the day. Only the North Salem School District locked down its two buildings, according to Superintendent Ken Freeston.

Sheriff Smith said School Resource Officers were ordered to patrol buildings on high alert until it was determined that the shooting was an isolated incident and not an organized targeting of schools.

At the end of the school day, patrol cars went to the various elementary schools throughout the county and stood by as children were led to their buses for a trip home where undoubtedly they received an extra hug and kiss from a relieved mom, dad or grandparent.

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