Los Angeles is responding with sympathy and increased security to a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Friday morning that has left 27 dead, including 20 dead children and others wounded.
The Los Angeles Police Department is beefing up security at LA schools while trying to mitigate anxiety relating to the tragic incident. “Although we're 3,000 miles from there … there’s always the potential” for copycats or somebody to act out, LAPD Capt. Joe Hiltner said to NBC.
A statement from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department said that, although "schools are one of the safest places kids can be," there will be an increased presence of deputies near schools for the next several days. The department encouraged parents to speak with deputies and ask any questions about safety.
LASD also advised parents to talk about the incident with their children. "Your children will hear about this incident through friends or others and so talking with them about it in a calm way is a good idea. Give them a chance to talk about how they feel, reassure them, and help them (and you) not to feel overwhelmed. Discuss with them about people reporting to schol officials if they see someone who does not belong on campus, or hear someone making threats," LASD said in a statement. Click here for more safety tips for kids.
The department encouraged parents to register for new notification systems that have been added over the last several years that allow schools to rapidly email, text message or call parents in the case of an emergency. Parents can also check LASD's Facebook and Twitter for quick safety updates.
The Los Angeles Unified School District issued a statement seeking to assure families that LA students are safe. "We are deeply saddened by today’s horrifying event this morning at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and Los Angeles School Police Chief Steve Zipperman want to assure all parents and members of our school community that the LAUSD’s number one priority is the safety of our students and staff," the district said.
A statement from the LA teachers' union, United Teachers Los Angeles, sympathized with the families of victims. "As parents and educators we know the impact of this senseless act of violence will not soon fade," the statement reads. "Long after media attention has waned, the healing process will continue. As our members celebrate the holidays with their families, we ask that they remember the students, teachers, parents and the entire community of Newtown."
South LA community leaders are planning a candlelight vigil tonight in memory of the victims and to call for stricter gun control laws. The vigil, sponsored by Project Islamic HOPE, will begin at 5 p.m. in Leimert Park at 3415 W. 43rd Place.