Retired state police lieutenant reflects on Sandy Hook massacre

We continue to remember the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.

Five years ago, it was considered the deadliest mass shooting in America.

As of Thursday, that's sadly not the case.

While we can say a lot has changed since the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, what hasn't changed is the sadness we still feel reflecting on the 26 lives lost.

He was the spokesperson for Connecticut State Police on Dec. 14, 2012, taking to podiums and doing countless interviews and updating us on a tragic school shooting.

“My responsibility was to keep people informed and do what I could to articulate what we learned and what we knew on a regular basis,” said now retired Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance.

But as the hours after the shooting continued, the updates seemed to have gotten worse.

Vance said he remembers the morning of Dec. 14, 2012, all too clearly.

“This case in my career was the worst of the worst,” Vance said

Quickly we learned, 20 children and 6 educators were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Adam Lanza shot his way into the school. He turned the gun on himself as police entered the school.

On that day, it was the deadliest mass shooting in America.

“Whenever you have a tragedy and it doesn't matter where it is, and the magnitude of it, you try to learn from it. And why? For a few reasons, one, it takes something good away from it. You put it in your tool box for when the next emergency hits,” Vance said.

The life-changing event changed Connecticut’s gun laws, added tighter security in schools across the nation, and made us look at how we can do better.

“Schools they began re-evaluating the security and what they had in place and making it better and in that perspective, that is something good we can take away,” Vance said.

As we look back to remember the lives lost, and the people affected, we know it may never get easier.

“To see what happened in that community and in that educational institution, it leaves a mark on your mind. All the first responders, EMS, fire service, police, everyone who responded and who was actively involved in this case will never forget the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting,” Vance said.

The children who were killed would have been 11 or 12 years old today and in the 6th grade.

Vance has since retired, after 43 years with Connecticut State Police.

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