Sandy Hook victims' families spoke out after mass shooting in Or - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Sandy Hook victims' families spoke out after mass shooting in Orlando

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Law enforcement officials work at the Pulse nightclub following a fatal shooting Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. . (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) Law enforcement officials work at the Pulse nightclub following a fatal shooting Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. . (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
NEWTOWN, CT (WFSB) -

Victims of the Newtown tragedy reacted to the news of the largest mass shooting in American history. 

In Connecticut, for parents who lost children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, Sunday’s tragedy in Orlando brings them right back to that day.

“I go into shock, I kind of shut down, it's too much to process,” said Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.

She said what loved ones are going through right now is the most agonizing time and something that she is all too familiar with.

While the victims from the Pulse nightclub shooting are slowly being identified, she said she has been through the tortuous wait.

“That wait feels like a lifetime. When you don't know and even when you're told. I remember when they told me Dylan was killed, I couldn't believe it. How could my son be there one moment and not be there the next,” Hockley said.

More than 50 families are being confronted with those unanswerable questions, but Hockley said it’s unavoidable, and she said there will be more, like ‘how could a man that the FBI looked at twice for terrorist related issues be able to legally buy ammunition as recently as last week?’

Authorities said the Orlando shooting appears to be a lone wolf attack.

Hockley said in many instances, the warning signs are there.

“They throw out these signs and signals and tell someone of their intent 70 percent of the time before they go out to commit the act, so if 7 out of 10 people know something, why can't one person say something,” Hockley said.

Her group, the Sandy Hook Promise, is continuing the fight on a national level to increase awareness, striving to educate people to recognize the signs and then speak out, all in an attempt to avoid another Newtown, or another Orlando.

“That wait will be unbearable for those families...and what happens after that wait is over will be even worse,” Hockley said.

Since more families are going to be living through what Hockley felt a little more than three years ago, she said she will be there for them in any way she can.

Rachel D'Avino's sister Hannah stands alongside more than a dozen from the Newtown Action Alliance, just hours after the massacre in Orlando. 

"I know that if she was alive today, and she heard the news about Orlando that she'd be right here," Hannah D'Avino said. 

A little more than three years ago, Newtown was in the same spot. The community was reeling from the tragedy that claimed the 26 innocent lives of students and school personnel including Hannah's sister.

"Every shooting takes me back to my day one. It doesn't go away, I feel my pain daily," Hannah D'Avino said. "I lose Rachel a little bit every day because I couldn't process that big of a loss in one day. No one can."

Hannah D'Avino said these wounds never completely heal, but she's here with a message. 

"I don't want to take guns. I don't want to melt guns," Hannah D'Avino said. "I think people have a right to carry, but I think it's time we realize that there is a problem with gun violence and we need to do something about it." 

Dozens gathered At the National Shooting Sports Foundation headquarters in Newtown on Sunday night. The protesters were trying to show solidarity with the victims of the Orlando deadly shooting.  

Many protesters held homemade signs or lit candles in support of the victims. They said they were standing against hatred and gun violence.  

To see pictures of the protest on your mobile device, click here. 

See more coverage of the Orlando shooting here.

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