MILLEDGEVILLE — Twenty-year old Adam Lanza’s name will always be remembered by the Newtown, Conn. community as the gunman who opened fire inside an elementary school and took the life of his mother, a school teacher, and 26 people, including 20 children.
Though almost 1,000 miles apart, the Baldwin County community felt waves from Friday’s tragedy as well.
“This tragic incident has put the whole nation on alert. It makes us feel so blessed to be in a town like Milledgeville, but I’m sure that same town [Newtown] felt the same way,” said Mark Hopkins, head of school for John Milledge Academy. “It’s heartbreaking and heart-wrenching. I do not see how people make it through without hanging on closely to their faith; you have to cling to it in tragic times like this. I don’t know of a school in the nation that would be prepared for something like this.”
Blandy Hills Elementary School Principal Charlene Thorpe said Friday afternoon that while thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims in the Connecticut school district, plans will continue annually to keep safety procedures and protocols up-to-date at the local schools.
“We look for all measures to keep our faculty, staff, scholars and parents safe. All who enter the building must wear a visitor’s pass, we make sure exit doors are locked, we watch the front door to see who’s transitioning throughout Blandy Hills daily, and we practice mock lockdowns and unannounced drills,” Thorpe said. “At Blandy we take safety serious. When talking to students during a tragic time like this, you have to talk to them on an appropriate level and keep reiterating that safety is priority.”
According to Associated Press reports Friday, the Connecticut gunman drove to the school in his mother’s car, an official said. Three guns were found — a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols, inside the school, and a .223-caliber rifle in the back of a car. Armed with two handguns, he committed suicide and another person was found dead at a second scene, bringing the toll to 28, authorities said Friday afternoon.