As Newtown, Conn., awaited the release Monday of an official report on the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the city's top elected official compared each reminder of the shootings to a "body blow" and spoke of the despair she feels as the one-year anniversary approaches.
"Part of our despair is that we can do little to ease their personal pain," Newtown's first selectman, Pat Llodra, said of the victims' relatives and others affected by the Dec. 14, 2012 rampage.
The gunman, Adam Lanza, 20, shot to death 20 first-graders and six school workers, and his mother, before killing himself inside the school.
The report to be released Monday afternoon is not the final one detailing police response to the killings. It is being described by state officials as a summary of the police investigation. Officials have not said when the full police report will be made public.
But 11 months after the killings, with little information so far made public, the imminent release of even a preliminary report is garnering extraordinary attention. So is the possibility that a judge as early as Monday could make public transcripts or audio of 911 calls made the day of the shootings.
The state's Freedom of Information Commission in September ordered the state’s attorney in Danbury, Stephen Sedensky III, to release the recordings. Sedensky appealed, and a judge was expected to listen to the recordings himself Monday before making a ruling.
Most officials, including Sedensky and Llodra, have cited the need for sensitivity toward victims' families as reasons to keep details out of the public eye. But Llodra earlier this month dropped her opposition to releasing the 911 calls, saying ending leaks about what they contain would make it easier on victims' families.
In a statement Monday, Llodra warned that the coming weeks will be "very difficult" for Newtown.
"We are gearing up for the release of the investigation report, will learn of the disposition of the tapes of the 911 calls, and will experience the first anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook School," said Llodra. "Each of these happenings has the potential to feel like a body blow – it takes our breath away and we struggle to regain our balance."
Llodra has urged residents to use the anniversary day to perform an act of kindness to honor those killed by Lanza. In her statement Monday, she also appealed to locals to not be scared away from the Sandy Hook neighborhood's commercial district, which last December became swamped by hundreds of journalists covering the shootings.
"Come to shop, to dine, and enjoy the beauty of the village on Dec. 14," she said. "Our presence there in support of these businesses shows that we will make the choice to not be deterred on our journey of recovery."
Since the shootings, the Sandy Hook Elementary School has been destroyed, and a new one is to be built in its place. Llodra also has named a panel to come up with ideas for a memorial to be erected somewhere in the city for the victims. But she has made clear the town will not host any official commemorations on the anniversary, out of respect for the families' desire for privacy.
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