Connecticut school shooting

Parents pay tribute to children killed in Connecticut school massacre

State medical examiner reveals victims were shot multiple times, with 16 of them aged six

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 December, 2012, 6:16am

It is not the way Emilie Parker died that will matter, it is the way she lived. She was only 61/2, but her father said she was an extraordinary force in the lives of loved ones.

"Emilie was bright, creative and very loving," said Robbie Parker, 30, who moved his family to Connecticut eight months ago.

An "exceptional artist" who always carried markers and pencils, Emilie never missed the chance to make a drawing or a card for those around her. "I can't count the number of times Emilie found someone feeling sad or frustrated and rushed to grab a piece of paper to draw them a picture or write them a note."

With his simple description, Parker put a face on a national tragedy. He expressed compassion for the victims and their families, and for the family of the man who killed his child, urging that the massacre "not be something that defines us but something that inspires us to be better".

Emilie's father spoke after state medical examiner Dr Wayne Carver revealed details about Friday's carnage, including the fact that each of the 26 victims was shot multiple times. Sixteen of the children who died were only six years old, while four of them were aged seven.

Most of the victims' families did not want to talk publicly. Through officials, they asked for their privacy to be respected. Some acknowledged their losses by e-mail or on social media.

Jennifer and Matthew Hubbard, parents of six-year-old Catherine, e-mailed her photo and a statement of appreciation for the "overwhelming support" from their community, and thanked authorities for their "outstanding work".

Jazz saxophonist Jimmy Greene, father of six-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene, posted a note on Facebook. The family was among many who had more than one child at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Ana's brother Isaiah, a third-grader, survived.

Dr Matthew Velsmid, paediatrician of six-year-old Madeleine Hsu, said the grieving family would not comment. He said Madeleine's father, who is ethnically Chinese, was devastated.

Among the other murdered children was Charlotte Bacon, six, who begged her mother to let her wear her new pink dress and boots to school that day. It was the last outfit the outgoing redhead would ever pick out. Charlotte's older brother Guy was also in the school but was not shot.

Olivia Engel was simply excited to go to school on Friday, with the promise of making a gingerbread house when she returned home. "Her only crime is being a wiggly, smiley six-year-old," said Dan Merton, a long-time friend of the girl's family.

The way Noah Pozner's parents saw it, no schools in New York could compare with those in Newtown. So they moved their family there - Noah, his twin sister and his eight-year-old sister. "At this stage, two out of three survived … That's sad," said Noah's uncle, Arthur Pozner.

Dorothy Werden, 49, lives across the street from Christopher and Lynn McDonnell, who lost their daughter Grace, seven. Werden remembered seeing Grace get on a bus on Friday, as she did every day at 8.45am.

Shortly afterwards, Werden received a call that there had been a lockdown at the school - something that happens periodically, she said, because there is a prison nearby. It was only when she saw police cars from out of town speed past that she knew something was seriously wrong.

Like the rest of the nation, she said, local residents were struggling with a single question: "Why did he have to go to the elementary school and kill all of those defenceless children?"

Additional reporting by Associated Press and The New York Times