The father of a Grade 1 student killed in Friday’s elementary school massacre is urging America to resist the impulse to define itself by the tragedy. Robbie Parker, father of six-year-old Emilie, says the mass shooting must inspire Americans to act with more compassion and humility.
“Let us please keep the sentiments of love that we feel for our families and the compassion that we feel for others — even complete strangers,” he said, “not just in times of sorrow and tragedy.”
Parker remembered his daughter’s own compassion and her creative spark.
“My daughter Emilie would be one of the first ones to be standing and giving her love and support to all those victims because that’s the type of person that she is,” Parker told reporters as he worked to contain his sorrow. “Not because of any parenting that my wife and I could have done, but because those were the gifts that were given to her by her heavenly father.”
He said his daughter was a mentor to her two younger sisters. “She was an exceptional artist — she always carried around her markers and pencils, so that she never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for those around her.”
Parker offered his condolences to all of the families affected by the shooting. “It’s a horrific tragedy. And we want everyone to know that our hearts and prayers go out to them.”
The grief-stricken parent extended those wishes to the shooter’s family. “I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you and I want you to know that our family and our love and our support goes out to you, as well.”
Emilie Parker was one of 20 children killed Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The medical examiner investigating the massacre said Saturday afternoon that the victims were killed up close by multiple gunshots.
“I have been at this for a a third of a century,” Dr. H. Wayne Carver said at a news conference. “This is probably the worst that I have seen.”
Connecticut police released the names and birthdates of the victims earlier today. All of the children were in first grade: Eight boys and 12 girls, police said. The youngest of the children were six.
1. Charlotte Bacon 2/22/06
2. Daniel Barden 9/25/05
3. Rachel Davino 7/17/83
4. Olivia Engel 7/18/06
5. Josephine Gay 12/11/05
6. Ana M. Marquez-Greene 4/4/06
7. Dylan Hockley 3/8/06
8. Dawn Hocksprung 6/28/65
9. Madeleine F Hsu 7/10/06
10. Catherine V Hubbard 6/8/06
11. Chase Kowalski 10/31/05
12. Jesse Lewis 6/30/06
13. James Mattioli 3/22/06
14. Grace McDonnell 11/4/05
15. Anne Marie Murphy 7/25/60
16. Emilie Parker 5/12/06
17. Jack Pinto 5/06/06
18. Noah Pozner 11/20/06
19. Caroline Previdi 9/07/06
20. Jessica Rekos 5/10/06
21 Avielle Richman 10/17/06
22. Lauren Russeau 6/1982
23. Mary Sherlach 02/11/56
24. Victoria Soto 11/04/85
25. Benjamin Wheeler 09/12/06
26. Allison N. Wyatt 07/03/06
“I believe everyone was hit more than once,” Carver told reporters.
Earlier on Saturday, Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police met with reporters to update them on the investigation. “We’ve been doing everything we need to do to peel back the onion, layer by layer, and get more information,” he said.
Highlights from his briefing, which ran just more than three minutes:
- The gunman, whom police have identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, forced his way into Sandy Hook elementary school around 9:30 a.m. Friday morning. “He was not voluntarily let into the school at all,” Vance said. “He forced his way into the school. But that’s as far as we can go on that.”
- A crisis team has been established for people in the community of Newtown.
- The police spokesman said investigators have produced “very good evidence” that, he said, “will be able to use in, hopefully, painting the complete picture as to how – and more importantly why – this occurred.”
The White House announced Saturday that U.S. President Barack Obama will travel to Newtown on Sunday where he will meet with families and speak at a vigil later that evening.
Here’s how we reported the story Friday. We’ll continue to update news as it develops.
- Jaime Weinman: Left unsaid on a day of dull shock
- Emma Teitel: Gun control at last?
- Photos: The latest from outside Sandy Hook Elementary School
- Reporter tweets from scene of Connecticut shooting