“Sandy Hook, initially, was the most devastating, horrific thing I’ve ever seen in my entire human life,” said Lieutenant Paul Vance with the Connecticut State Police.
Lt. Vance came to National Trail High School on Wednesday, June 4, to share how he and his officers responded to the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass-killing in December 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. The attack left 26 children and adults dead, an assault Lt. Vance hopes to prevent from occurring again by sharing the events of that day with officers from the SWAT teams in Preble and Darke Counties, as well as the Richmond, Indiana Police Department.
Also present were K-9 units from Preble and Darke Counties, the Dayton Airport Police, the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office, and officers from the Ohio Dept. Natural Resources. Two regional communications vehicles from Mercer County’s Sheriff’s Office and Montgomery County’s Sheriff’s Office were on site, as were trailers from Darke County SO and Wayne County SO in Indiana. Several PD K-9 units were also present for training.
“Babies were killed — 5 and 6 years old — and these families want to know where their babies are,” said Lt. Vance. “They put their babies on the bus that morning with their backpack and their lunch pail to see them that night. And they weren’t there,” said Lt. Vance.
Teachers within the National Trail School District were encouraged to participate in the training, as Lt. Vance said their role in the Sandy Hook attack was just as imperative as law enforcement’s.
“There were so many lives that were saved as a result of the educators, the first responders, the people in that school,” said Lt. Vance. “Just like a fire drill, the educators were extremely important, they were an important part of this equation, because we had to reunite these children with their families.”
The attack spurred many questions, to which officers on the case compiled a 6,000 page report within 12 months, attempting to provide answers.
“It’s important that we get accurate and timely information out as this tragedy is unfolding,” said Vance of the Sandy Hook event. He described the attire the shooter was wearing, which allowed him to carry multiple firearms on his person during the event, and said the shooter had the potential to cause more damage, but wasn’t able to.
“That goes to show you how important that active shooter training was, and how important all the training was with the educators in that school, with the resource officer, in what to do in an emergency.”