Police receive awards for Newtown response

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Hundreds of first responders and others that have helped the families in the tragedy at Sandy Hook were honored by the state Tuesday.

The nation’s most shocking crime took the lives of twenty first graders and six educators in one of the nation’s worst ever school shootings.

It’s hard to believe but it has been eighteen months since the tragedy at Sandy Hook shocked the entire nation.

As one person put it Tuesday this ceremony was an unwelcome reminder of a day we’d like to forget but it was decided that the hundreds of first responders that dealt with the unspeakable tragedy should be recognized.

“It’s been in the planning stages for the last couple of months, it was to bring people together that had done so well and recognize their good work and thank them,” said CT State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance.

More than 300 men and women; police, fire, EMT’s, civilians in social work, the force that rose to the task of helping the families of the twenty-six victims.

And the man that became the face and voice of the tragedy on TV to the entire continent that week Lt. Vance,

“We’re all doing the best we can do…it’s something we never anticipated, we never wanted to encounter and we’ll never forget.”

Trooper Matt Bell was among the first to enter Sandy Hook School that day. “It’s a day to day struggle there’s a lot of triggers that send off some emotion and bring you back to that day, it’s painful, painful to remember,” said Trooper Bell.

Trooper Lonny Mo has been the trooper/liaison to the family of slain school psychologist Mary Sherlach.  He’s been with the family almost constantly since that day, what’s the toughest thing for him?

“Driving to work” said Trooper Mo, “you’re not focused on the job and the memories come back into the mind and it’s tough.”

Lonny and many other troopers now have a tattoo on their forearm.  “It’s to honor the six heroes, those are the teachers, the twenty angels, those are the students, the clouds and sun rays represent hope,” described Trooper Mo.

Everyone News 8 spoke with at the ceremony Tuesday said their thoughts remain with the families and helping each other.

“I don’t think anyone has completely moved on, I don’t think we ever will but as a unit we really look out for each other, make sure everyone’s doing okay but it’s hard to forget those memories,” added Trooper Bell.

Both Trooper Bell and Trooper Mo are assigned to the Southbury barracks and have to drive by that ‘Sandy Hook’ exit on I-84 everyday triggering memories of that day.

 

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