Rabbi Shaul Praver did his best to comfort residents of Newtown, Ct., on what he called a “horrible, horrible” day. “Every parent’s worst nightmare.”
Praver spent the day alongside other local clergy, counseling victims’ families at the Newtown firehouse. There, after hours of mounting terror, some parents were told that their children were dead. Earlier in the day, while parents waited for news, reactions were mixed, Rabbi Praver said. “Some parents looked shocked” and were “emotionless” while others wept in fear. When the governor came to share news at 3 p.m., parents were desperately hoping for good news. There wasn’t any, Praver says, and “that’s when the wailing really started and when our work began.”
Grief in the firehouse was not restricted to the victims’ families. “People just didn’t know what to do with themselves,” he said. “Everybody’s crying–the policemen, and the rabbi, and the pastors. It was really tough.”
“These are people we know and love,” he said. “So loved by their parents, so innocent, and their death is so senseless.”
Kathy Sweeney, whose eight-year old grandson survived the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, told PoliticsNation that it “hasn’t set in” for him yet. He was in the computer room where he and his classmates were told to hide under the computers. According to her, the PA system was on and the students could hear gun shots. Eventually they were told to close their eyes as they were led out by teachers. She also shared the story of a teacher she knew, who locked her kids in the bathroom so they could not be harmed.
Although Sweeney’s family is safe, the tragedy struck close to home: a neighboring family lost their child. “Nobody can believe” what happened, Sweeney said. “My daughter and I don’t have any tears left.”