Around New Rochelle, people were coming to the realization Friday that an enormous tragedy out of Newtown, CT, was unfolding minute by minute.
Friday morning a gunman, as yet unnamed, started firing in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. By late afternoon, the official death toll at the school was 20 children and six adults. Another body was found at a different location. The shooter killed himself in the school, police officials said.
New Rochelle residents were shocked at the horrific crime.
Chrisanne M. Petrone, a New Rochelle parent and the president of the school district's board of education, said prayers and sympathies were going out to everyone affected by the shooting.
"As all the details unfold about this horrible tragedy, it is so unbelievable and shocking to think that anyone would do such a thing," she said. "As a parent, I can't imagine the pain being felt by those whose young children's lives were senselessly taken or the fear felt by parents as they awaited word of their loved ones.
"It will be a difficult task to explain to these young children the senseless loss occurring today," Petrone said.
District spokesman Paul Costiglio said during the day the director of security checked in with each school building to insure that everyone was safe and secure.
"We are constantly updating our security measures and procedures with an eye toward the safety of students and everyone in the building as a top priority," he said.
Costiglio, a Yonkers resident, said he was going to hug his children extra tightly Friday night.
"During a time of year when you give thanks for what you have, this situation gives you an added perspective on how fragile and precious life truly is," he said. "My heart aches for those parents who lost children, particularly around the holidays when family togetherness is so important."
Area representatives were also quick to comment about the shooting.
Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, said the violence was senseless and heartbreaking and her thoughts and prayers were with the victims and their friends and families.
"We cannot tolerate mass shootings as a mere inconvenience or a normal part of our everyday lives," she said. "Easy availability of the deadliest weapons to the most dangerous people has cost countless lives and causes immeasurable suffering, never more so than today.
"Our expressions of sympathy must be matched with concrete actions to stop gun violence," Lowey said.
Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, said he was horrified by the violence committed against innocent children and their teachers.
"Today, our nation mourns," he said. "In the coming days and weeks, we must come to grips with the horrors of the growing gun violence we are witnessing with all too much frequency. This country must keep guns out of the hands of deranged murderers, and the fact that we cannot pass sensible gun control in this Congress is a blot on our reputation.
"As I have said many times in the past," Engel said, "we must pass sensible gun control. We owe it to the memories of the children and teachers murdered today."
New Rochelle resident Casey DelliCarpini, commenting on New Rochelle Patch's Facebook page, said it wasn't the time to have a gun control conversation.
"Right now is just a time to be there for these families," she said. "It's a conversation that should be had, just not quite right now at this moment.