Imagine hearing about a shooting at a school where a close relative attends.
That was the reality for Rich Hess, a 23 year-old Connecticut native who grew up in Brookfield, less than ten miles from Newtown where twenty children and six adults were fatally shot Friday morning. Another victim found later at a second crime scene and the death of the shooter brought the toll to 28.
“I gave my mom a call, and she confirmed it…that my cousin definitely attended that school,” Hess said.
He was able to confirm about a half hour later that his aunt picked up his cousin safely from Sandy Hook Elementary School.
When it was all happening, he said his aunt was “pretty hysterical” but glad that his cousin was safe.
Hess said his aunt is personally connected to the town.
“I know definitely a couple of her friends – close friends in the area – they had kids that were, you know, part of those that were killed,” he said.
“It’s definitely a tragedy and hit the town very hard.”
Hess said it was tough to be at his office where everyone found out the news.
“I don’t think anybody was working,” he said. “I know one of my co-workers, his wife actually works there. And she got out safe, unharmed….thank God.”
He said people in Newtown and Connecticut are comforting each other right now.
“It’s definitely one of those communities where everyone in town knows each other. If they don’t know each other personally, they’ve heard of them,” he said.
Hess was able to leave early and work from home on Friday.