Deciding fate of site can help with healing

Associated Press


As Newtown, Conn., grieves the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, victims’ families and residents eventually will have to decide what to do with the building and how to remember the fallen.

Will they decide to demolish the school where authorities say Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults before killing himself? Or just the parts where he opened fire? Will there be a memorial on school grounds, or in town? Or both?

Whatever they choose, it will give them a measure of control over a situation in which they have had very little, said Dr. Louis Kraus, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Here’s a look at what communities that have faced deadly mass shootings have done:

After a white supremacist opened fire in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., in August, killing six people and injuring four, temple officials conducted a purifying ceremony and removed bloodstained carpeting, repaired shattered windows and painted over gunfire-scarred walls.

But they left one reminder of the violence — a dime-size bullet hole in the door jamb leading to the prayer room. The hole is now marked with a small gold plate engraved with “We Are One. 8-5-12,” a memorial to the victims.

After a gunman killed 12 people at a midnight showing of the Batman movie in Aurora, Colo., officials conducted an online survey, and more than 70 percent of the 6,300 people who responded wanted the movie theater to reopen.

A memorial that sprang up near the theater is gone, but a new sign offers sympathy to those suffering from the nation’s latest mass shooting — “Newtown, CT We feel your pain.”

At Virginia Tech, the scene of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, a classroom building where a student gunman killed 30 people in April 2007 is now home to the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention.

The center at the Blacksburg, Va., school was established in 2009. The building also houses space for the engineering department.

After two students went on a deadly rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in April 1999, students finished the year at another school. Columbine reopened in time for the following school year after extensive repairs.

School district officials originally considered remodeling and reopening the second-floor library, where most of the students were killed, but parents objected and asked that it be demolished and replaced.

The district agreed, and the old library, which sat above the school cafeteria, was removed and the space converted into an atrium.

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