NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — A week from Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. The town, still traumatized by the mass killing, is officially asking the world to stay away.
At town hall, they are anticipating the anniversary with a sense of dread, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported Friday.
“We can’t go through that again, really. We’re a small community. This is a large burden for such a small community to carry,” First Selectman Pat Llodra said.
The mass killings just before Christmas brought the unblinking eye of world attention down on the village of Sandy Hook — and residents say they feel as if they lost possession of their hometown.
“We were overrun with people. I think there were more visitors to our town in that 10 days than we have people who live in the town. It completely collapsed the economics of that region because the media was so impactful,” Llodra said.
Fear of the cameras has become a preoccupation in the place where one of the biggest news stories in recent memory occurred.
The demolition of the school — the scene of the crime — was surrounded with very tight security. The remains of the building were ground up to discourage souvenir hunters. The town is anxious to keep the eyes of the world away.
“The families have asked us to shield them, help shield them from anything that’s going to be hurtful, and I think as a community we should do that,” Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe said.
“This situation for us is deeply personal, deeply personal for every person here,” said Rev. Matt Crebbin of Newtown Congregational Church.
So they have a request as the one-year anniversary approaches, especially to protect the young survivors.
“I do want you to stay away, very much so. You’re here today and we’re happy you’re here. Come sometime in January, but give us time, this holiday season, to be alone with those we love,” Llodra said.
The attention of the media retards the ability to grieve in a meaningful way. We can create an environment where these youngsters can thrive and grow and we can’t do that if we’re always being dragged back to this horrible past,” he added.
It’s a request they plan to repeat to the world media on Monday. Newtown officials will send the message around world in the hopes that news outlets and well-meaning visitors will stay away on the anniversary of the tragedy — and give our neighbors there the chance to live outside the public eye, at least until the New Year, Young reported.
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