NEWTOWN, Conn. (WTNH) – It’s been 10 years since 20 children and six educators were killed in Sandy Hook.
“I think about it on a regular basis,” said former Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. “You know, I think it’s one of those experiences shared that, you know, as it leaves a mark.”
Former Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy now lives in Essex.
“I was in my office, I was having a meeting,” Malloy said. “My chief of staff came in and pulled me out for a minute and said there’d been a shooting at a school and the reports are that there’s, you know, one person injured. When you have an unusual shooting in an unusual building and there’s one person injured, that’s usually a domestic situation. And so, I said, ‘keep me informed,’ and he went back in his office and I went back to complete the meeting.”
That was 9:30 in the morning on December 14, 2012. A short time later, a very grim picture was unfolding.
When asked about what he was thinking about while he was on the drive from Hartford to Newtown, Malloy responded, “I got there and as you might imagine, it was still chaos in the sense that those people who had been evacuated, the children and staff, all who were well, you know, they’d been claimed, they’d gone home, and what we were left with were the families of those who at that point, had not been united or reunited. We had to figure out how to do that.”
Hundreds gathered at the firehouse, which is a short walk from the scene. Everyone was desperate for information.
“I spoke to the first selectman who was a wonderful human being and said, ‘you have a police department of 36 people and we have a police department of 1,200, but it’s your town and who would you like to lead this,” Malloy said.
Former Newtown First Selectwoman Pat Llodra said the state police in partnership with Sandy Hook police would lead. There was a 25-minute briefing with the press.
Nightfall was approaching and the distraught families of the 20 first graders and six staff members waited for answers.
“I went, I turned to I guess it was the commanding officer of the state police and I said, ‘well, if in fact we have fatalities, when do we just tell people that?’ And the answer was well, you know, we don’t do that until there’s an identification, and so, then I started to ask when identification would be made and it was a long time away,” Malloy said. “I did make the decision that this was not the way to be treating folks and that we should share as much information we had as we had at that time. And we did that. I did that.”
Malloy contemplated how to tell the families. He decided one-on-one conversations.
“So, I left the firehouse after we had done a briefing and walked across the parking lots to that other building,” Malloy said.
The other building held a meeting room in the back of the firehouse that became a safe space. Malloy remained in that room for hours with the families and then he finally made the call.
“People just started to surround me and I realized, well there’s no way to do this,” Malloy said. “I knew that doing it in mass was going to be very difficult. What I found out was doing it one-on-one would have been more difficult. Not for me, but for them.”
When asked if this was the hardest thing he had to do in his life, Malloy responded, “It was one of the most meaningful things I did in my life and it was certainly a very difficult moment.”
Ten years later, many say Malloy gave those families an answer when no one else would. Their traumatic journey after the massacre was only just beginning.