As the second anniversary of the Newtown school shooting arrives on Sunday, local officials and others touched by the tragedy have been busy on many fronts as the town continues its recovery from the massacre of 20 children and six educators.
Some families that channeled grief into activism are forging ahead with efforts to curb gun violence and improve mental health treatment. The town has begun reviewing ideas for a permanent memorial and the first construction work has begun on the new Sandy Hook Elementary School, to replace the school building that was razed last year. Newtown also acquired and will decide what to do with the home were the shooter lived.
The gunman, Adam Lanza, shot and killed his mother on Dec. 14, 2012, before driving to the school where he gunned down the victims with a semi-automatic rifle before committing suicide.
Here is a look at recent developments in Newtown:
A town panel has gathered input from more than 350 people including survivors, first responders and others touched by the tragedy on the search for a permanent memorial to honor the victims. The public will be invited to weigh-in during forums next year. So far, 18 of the 26 victims’ families have gotten involved. The panel is not consulting the family of the shooter’s mother, Nancy Lanza, who purchased the weapons that her son used during the rampage.
The town is still seeing high demand for counseling services among survivors, parents and others dealing with the effects of the tragedy. Thousands of people in Newtown have taken advantage of therapy and other programs made available through millions in grants and donations. Agencies have been working to set up a support system for the next 12 to 15 years, as the youngest survivors approach adulthood.
TOWN ACQUIRES LANZA HOME
Earlier this month Newtown took possession of the house in an upscale subdivision where Lanza lived with his mother. The bank that transferred ownership, at no cost to the town, first removed and burned all of the personal effects remaining inside. The town now must decide what to do with the building, which several residents have suggested should be demolished.
A report released last month by Connecticut’s Office of the Child Advocate found that Lanza’s parents, education team and others missed signs of how deeply troubled he was and opportunities to steer him toward more appropriate treatment. Lanza’s obsessions with firearms, death and mass shootings have been documented by police files, and investigators concluded more than a year ago that the motive for the shootings may never be known.
VICTIMS’ FAMILIES MAY FILE LAWSUITS
Parents of more than half the children killed in the shooting have filed papers that lay the groundwork for possible wrongful death lawsuits, but the documents do not indicate who would be sued. The families have declined to comment on their intentions. In Connecticut, the statute of limitations to file civil lawsuits involving actions that cause death is generally two years. That time limit is three years in other kinds of lawsuits, such as product liability claims against gun makers, for example.
NO PUBLIC COMMEMORATIONS ON ANNIVERSARY
As was the case on the first anniversary of the shooting, Newtown is not holding any public commemoration ceremonies Sunday. Local officials say the day will be marked through personal reflection and remembrance.