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Newtown families urge kindness as shooting anniversary nears

Families members of those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre are asking people to consider marking the anniversary with "acts of kindness."

The families of many of those who were killed in a shooting rampage a year ago at a Connecticut elementary school gathered Monday to encourage people to honor the victims with acts of kindness on the massacre's anniversary.

Saturday marks the year anniversary of the shooting in Newtown, where 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults before killing himself.

“Dec. 14, 2012 forever and unalterably changed the lives of the 26 families whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” said Krista Rekos, mother of 6-year-old victim Jessica Rekos, at a news conference early Monday afternoon.

Rekos and family members of 14 of the victims convened at the somber event in Newtown to announce the creation of a website and call on the public to perform acts of kindness and volunteer work Saturday.

“We hope that some small measure of good may be returned to the world,” said JoAnn Bacon, mother of 6-year-old victim Charlotte Bacon.

“Our family will be lighting he candle on the eve of 12/14, the last night we spent with our sweet Charlotte,” she said.

In a tearful procession, each of the family's representatives stood to say they, too, would light a candle to mark the anniversary. 

Earlier on Monday, officials in Newtown held a news conference imploring media to stay away from the small town on the anniversary of the shooting and respect the privacy and healing process of its residents.

"We are trying to respect the world's interest in us, but we also have a real need in our community to gain its foothold, particularly around this very difficult time," First Selectman Pat Llodra said. “We pay a price when the media is here, because we're a small community."

She and other officials stressed that the community had chosen to mourn privately and that the town has no plans for a public remembrance. Residents have painful memories of the events that unfolded last year, she said, adding that the physical presence of media and media vehicles in the town could be an emotional trigger for those closest to the tragedy.

“You don’t have to talk about it from Newtown,” she said.

Interim Schools Superintendent John Reed said the school system had decided to try to maintain as normal a routine as possible in the days leading up to the anniversary of the shooting and that less was more. ”One of the major support components for our staff has been each other,” Reed said.  

“You understand and we understand that people in this town don’t need reminding of when this event took place," he said.

Reed said the school continued to provide counseling services for students and staff and that “the road to recovery is going to be a varied road.”

“People are at different places in the journey,” he said.

There are no plans for a memorial at the site of a new elementary school to be constructed after residents of the town overwhelmingly voted to raze the building where the shooting occurred. Reed said design teams were working to have the schematics of the new school done at the end of January or the beginning of February.

Newtown Police Chief Mike Kehoe said his department would have an “increased law enforcement presence in the community” on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.