Tag Archives: Sandy Hook Elementary School

Bayside Little League team wins it for Newtown victims


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jerry Costa

BY CHARLES OSBORN

Jerry Costa has been managing little league teams for nine years, starting when his son turned five. But this season was different.

The Katie Den Little League team out of Bayside not only won all 20 of its games this season; they won on behalf of victims of the December 2012 shooting tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

A parent whose child played for Costa approached the coach about wearing a patch to call attention to the victims of the grisly school shooting. Costa immediately got in touch with Bayside Little League President Bob Reid.

“I go to the baseball field all the time and see young, six-year-old kids playing and laughing and having a good time,” Costa said. “Win or lose, it doesn’t make a difference to them as long as they’re playing baseball. I don’t care how much money the professionals make. Baseball was invented for kids.”

Reid approved the patches, and the team, sponsored by Katie Den Enterprises, had an official rallying cry: “One-Two-Three-Newtown!” They chanted it before innings as well as after games, including their final victory on June 21, sewing up that perfect 20-0 season and a story for the ages. Each win represented one child whose life was taken at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“There were 26 total victims at Sandy Hook, and six of them were teachers and staff. When I was told that we had won 20 games for 20 children victims, I had to pull myself together,” Costa said.

“Two of the kids playing for the team had never picked up a bat or a glove. It’s a miracle what we were able to accomplish for those kids,” Costa added. “Baseball is a great game. [The] children will never be forgotten. They will always been in our hearts.”

 

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Sunnyside holds fundraiser for Sandy Hook victim


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

Although distance now separates them, the Sunnyside community came together last weekend to show the Wheeler family they are not alone in their tragic loss.

Through the planning of Sunnymoms, a group of local parents who get together and share tips, and other members of the Sunnyside community, around 300 people came together on Saturday, February 23 to enjoy an evening of food, music and family activities all contributing to the Wheeler Family Fundraiser and honoring the memory of Ben Wheeler, killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The Wheelers were active and loved members of the Sunnyside community who moved to Newton, Connecticut four years ago with their sons Nate and Ben. Francine Wheeler was one of the founding members of Sunnymoms.
“We just wanted to help out the best way we know how,” said family friend Roger Hitts, who helped coordinate the event. “Our hearts break for them and we weren’t going to leave it at that.”

The Sunnyside Community Center was filled with families of young and old looking to help out the Wheelers while sharing a night of food and music with friends and family. Many Sunnyside restaurants donated food while other business donated services and items for the raffle and live auction.

“We’re such a tight community here so we thought we’d come and help out,” said Diana Dumitru, 29, who attended the event with her husband and son. “I know the people that organized this event really put their heart into it.”

Live music from entertainers Richard Younger and Allison Tartalia filled the room while children danced the night away or spent time at the “Children’s Corner” where they could get their faces and nails painted.

“It’s fantastic to see the community come together,” said Gail Griffin who enjoyed the night with her son and daughter. “We’re a very tight-knit community and want to do as much as we can for them.”

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer attended the event and held the live auction where he included JetBlue tickets for two lucky guests. All monies raised will go to the Ben Wheeler Fund. It was unsure as of press time how much was collected.

Although the family was not able to attend the event Saturday night, they felt the love from their native community and were moved and thankful for their friends and the community at large.

“We are grateful and deeply moved at the generosity of our friends and former neighbors in the very special community of Sunnyside. The love for Ben and the support for our family shown by the Sunnymoms and their families and friends connects us to these important people forever,” said Francine, David and Nate Wheeler.

 

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

 

 

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NY newspaper publishes controversial map of local gun owners


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Screenshot/www.lohud.com

A New York newspaper is receiving criticism for posting an online map of gun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties as the country debates firearm control following the Sandy Hook shooting.

On its website this Saturday, The Journal News, using data gathered from Freedom of Information requests and Google Maps, published the names and addresses of individuals with permits to own a pistol or revolver, along with an article called “The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your neighborhood.”

The Journal News is still awaiting information from gun owners in Putnam County and did not include those with rifles or shotguns since they can be purchased without a permit.

Despite the calls for stricter gun laws, the paper has experienced a lot of backlash from those angry about privacy violations.

Many of those who commented on the article said the interactive map’s publication was irresponsible reporting, and some even called for the publication of the names and addresses of Journal News employees.

“Do you fools realize that you also made a map for criminals to use to find homes to rob that have no guns in them to protect themselves?” said one commenter.

“You have just destroyed the privacy of these law abiding citizens and by releasing this list, you have equated them to that of sex offenders and murders,” wrote another.

In a statement responding to the outrage, The Journal News told ABC News that its readers “are understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhoods,” because of the conversation about gun control following the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

What do you think of The Journal News’ publication of the names and addresses of local gun permit holders? Do you think it should have put the information online?

 

 

 

 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Clear. High of 48. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 15 to 20 mph. Wednesday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 36. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 15 mph

EVENT of the DAY: Queens Young Professionals Holiday Party

Recently, the Queens Young Professionals group formed to provide resources and networking opportunities to cultivate the borough’s future business leaders and encourage the next generation to become invested in borough wide issues. QYP, which is free to join, hosts its first ever holiday party with an unlimited buffet and specially priced drinks plus the chance to network. $10. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

M.T.A. chief will resign as he looks at mayoral bid

Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has informed the Cuomo administration that he is stepping down from his position, according to four people with direct knowledge of his plans. Read more: New York Times

MTA to vote on fare, toll hike proposal Wednesday

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is scheduled to vote on its latest fare and toll hike proposal Wednesday morning. Read more: NY1

Little-known program can help flood-prone homeowners stave off future damage

Broad Channel homeowner Joan Delahunt, still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Irene, was working on a plan to raise the level of her flood-prone home when Superstorm Sandy struck. Read more: New York Daily News

NRA breaks silence, comments on Newtown tragedy

After four days of self-imposed silence on the shooting that killed 26 people inside a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, the nation’s largest gun rights lobby emerged Tuesday and promised “to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.” ABC New York

Obama to call for gun policy changes

President Barack Obama is launching an administration-wide effort to curb gun violence, underscoring the growing political consensus over tightening gun restrictions following the horrific massacre at a Connecticut elementary school. Read more: Fox New York

Instagram takes step back, says ‘It is not our intention to sell your photos

Instagram, the popular mobile photo-sharing service now owned by Facebook, has backpedaled on some of its planned changes that led to concerns that it would use its members’ photos in advertisements. Read more: CBS New York

Time 2012 Person of the Year: Barack Obama

Twenty-seven years after driving from New York City to Chicago in a $2,000 Honda Civic for a job that probably wouldn’t amount to much, Barack Obama, in better shape but with grayer hair, stood in the presidential suite on the top floor of the Fairmont Millennium Park hotel as flat screens announced his re-election as President of the United States. Read more: Time magazine

 

 

How to talk to your child about tragedy


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

With the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut plastered all over the news, chances are that children are going to catch a glimpse of a television broadcast or overhear a conversation about it. Helaine Shahar, a Bayside-based Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), gave The Courier some insight into how to speak to kids about the horrific event.

- Look out for behavioral changes.

Children struggling with emotional turmoil often have difficulty sleeping, isolate themselves for others and tend to refrain from engaging in conversation as much as they used to. Gauge their behavior on a scale of one to 10. If their level of activity is usually around a five or six and rockets to a nine or plummets to a two, something is up.

- Find out what they need first.

Some kids who have never had a serious discussion about emotions may feel awkward suddenly opening up about such a sensitive topic. It’s important to find out what the child needs from you before you hand out information that might be overwhelming.

- If kids don’t know about it, you don’t have to tell them.

There’s no use upsetting a child, especially if they are very young. If they don’t know what happened and you feel it’s best they remain in the dark, that’s OK.

- If they do know, it’s important to understand what they understand.

According to Shahar, if a child is aware that a tragedy occurred, one of the best things to do is ask them what they think happened. “If they say they’re afraid, that’s OK,” said Shahar. Make sure you normalize the day and let them know it’s not something that happens on a regular basis.

- Be clear about your own feelings.

Parents have to be clear about how they’re feeling themselves. Otherwise, their feelings might spill over to their children. “If children see their parents being upset, they have to be able to explain their own behavior,” said Shahar.

- Talk about it more than once.

It’s important to have several conversations. Continue to check in, even if it’s just to ask how they’re feeling or if they thought about the incident. Even if they didn’t think about it that particular day, keeping a dialogue about the incident lets kids know you are still open to discussing it if it does upset them.

Experts say Asperger’s syndrome has no ties to violence


| mchan@queenscourier.com

A diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome had no link to shooting suspect Adam Lanza’s decision to kill in cold blood, experts said.

“The eyes of the world are on this wrenching tragedy,” said Dr. Valerie Paradiz, director of Autistic Global Initiative. “With 1 in 88 now diagnosed, misinformation could easily trigger increased prejudice and misunderstanding.”

Lanza had been reportedly diagnosed with Asperger’s, a high functioning form of autism that is characterized by well-above average intelligence and social awkwardness.

While individuals with Asperger’s may have trouble reading social cues, experts said the condition has no ties to violence and should not be used to explain why the troubled teen chose to massacre 26 children and adults at the Connecticut elementary school last week.

“A typical person with Asperger’s wouldn’t have the tendency to pick up a gun and shoot anyone, let alone go to ongoing target practice, which this individual did,” said Gary Maffei, executive director of Quality Services for the Autism Community.

Professionals in the field warned the public not to point to the lifelong brain disorder as a scapegoat.

“Autism is no excuse or explanation [for] evil,” said Autism Rights Watch, a nonprofit group. “Being ‘autistic,’ ‘odd,’ ‘awkward,’ ‘camera shy,’ a ‘nerd’ and ‘uncomfortable with others’ does not cause a person to become a mass murderer.”

Instead, the organization said Lanza’s easy access to weapons in the household is “the most solid contributing factor” for his murderous rampage.

The 20-year-old also likely suffered from other mental health issues, whether he was diagnosed or not, experts said.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast with rain, then a chance of rain in the afternoon. Fog early. High of 55. Winds from the South at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Tuesday night: Overcast in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 41. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Sandy Hook March and Candlelight Vigil 

We come together to mourn the loss of the children and educators who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday, December 14. Among them was 6-year-old Benjamin Andrew Wheeler, son of Francine and David Cole Wheeler, and brother of Nate. Francine resided with us in Sunnyside and, while raising her babies, was instrumental in the formation of a community of young mothers here. We will also gather to support the grieving family of Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who lost her life in a valiant attempt to save her students and colleagues. Please join as we honor them. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Political fight begins in U.S. Senate over Superstorm Sandy aid package

Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Monday began trying to push the $60.4 billion emergency spending plan for Superstorm Sandy victims through Congress by Christmas. Read more: CBS New York

Boy arrested in threat that sent school into lockout

Authorities say a 13-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with an Internet threat that sent Westbury Middle School on Long Island into lockout mode Monday. Read more: NBC New York

Getting books back into the hands of Sandy storm victims in Rockaway

Curling up with a good book has become a luxury for victims of Superstorm Sandy in Rockaway. Adults and children alike lost most of their personal possessions, including beloved book collections built over generations, in a mix of flood waters, sand and fire. Read more: New York Daily News

LIPA trustees vote to hold rates steady

Despite a possible $950 million repair bill from Superstorm Sandy, the Long Island Power Authority will not be raising rates. Read more: Fox New York

Sunnyside man stabbed to death on Staten Island

A Sunnyside man was stabbed to death by his girlfriend’s father, police say, after the two argued during a booze-fueled gathering inside his home early Monday morning. Read more: SILive.com

Newtown students to return to classes in wake of school massacre

The schools of Newtown, which stood empty in the wake of a shooting rampage that took 26 of their own, will again ring with the sounds of students and teachers on Tuesday as the bucolic Connecticut town struggles to return to normal. Read more: Reuters

 

Bloomberg demands a plan to end gun violence


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo by Edward Reed

Dozens of Americans affected by gun violence joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg at City Hall for the release of 34 videos renewing the call for the federal government to reduce gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The 34 videos each tell the personal story of survivors and family members of victims of gun violence, one video for each of the 34 Americans killed daily by guns.

“Gun violence is a national epidemic — and a national tragedy — that demands more than words. It demands immediate national action, from the president and from Congress. It needs to be at the top of their agenda,” Bloomberg said.

The videos can be viewed at demandaplan.org.

Survivors and family members of deceased relatives from shootings in Aurora, Tuscon, Virginia Tech and Columbine told their stories on the series of two-minute videos of the trauma they continue to face following the tragedies.

“While I was laying in my hospital bed and watching the news, I heard a lot of public officials offering their condolences, but I guess I’m still waiting for all of that to turn into some sort of policy that will prevent these mass tragedies from happening to anyone ever again,” said Stephen Barton, a survivor of the movie theater shooting in Aurora.

Among the legislation Bloomberg demanded passed when the 113th Congress convenes next year was closing the gun show loopholes and requiring all gun purchases to be subject to background checks, reinstating the ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and making gun trafficking a felony.

Queen’s Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’s FORECAST 

Monday: Overcast with a chance of rain. High of 54. Winds from the ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Monday night: Overcast with rain. Fog overnight. Low of 48. Winds from the ESE at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80% with rainfall amounts near 0.9 in. possible.

EVENT of the DAY: “How Much Do I Owe You?”

No Longer Empty is proud to announce its 14th exhibition in the Clock Tower in Long Island City. The iconic former Bank of Manhattan building has opened its doors, vaults and even illuminate The Clock Tower to host an immersive and ambitious site-specific exhibition. As the title implies, “How Much Do I Owe You?” is a personal and conversational exploration into the new iterations of currency, value and exchange at this time of financial flux, growing debt and job insecurity. Open now, Monday-Thursday, 1-7 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Triumph of Civic Virtue is moved to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn

The Triumph of Civic Virtue, the controversial Queens statue that has divided local lawmakers and residents for decades, has moved to greener pastures. Read more: New York Daily News

Cuomo delivers $154 million in federal Sandy aid

Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered the first federal aid since Superstorm Sandy hit New York – more than $114 million for New York University Langone Medical Center and $40 million to help remove debris on Long Island. Read more: ABC New York

Report: City to offer ‘bounty’ to landlords to ban smoking in apartments

Smoking has been banned in New York City restaurants since 1995, in bars since 2002, and in parks and beaches since last year. Read more: CBS New York

Teachers say they don’t feel prepared to teach new Common Core standards before April state exams

Teachers across the city do not feel adequately trained to prepare students for upcoming state exams aligned with new, more rigorous standards called Common Core, according to a survey conducted last month by the United Federation of Teachers. Read more: New York Daily News

Extell’s chief thinking tall for Midtown

Gary Barnett, one of New York’s leading developers, is planning a new Midtown skyscraper that could rise 300 feet higher than the Empire State Building, and he’s has hired the architect who designed the world’s tallest tower. Read more: Wall Street Journal

‘These tragedies must end,’ Obama says

President Obama vowed on Sunday to “use whatever power this office holds” to stop massacres like the slaughter at the school here that shocked the nation, hinting at a fresh effort to curb the spread of guns as he declared that there was no “excuse for inaction.” Read more: New York Times

Gun control debate begins to simmer after massacre

Democrats say meaningful action in the wake of last week’s elementary school shooting must include a ban on military-style assault weapons and a look at how the nation deals with individuals suffering from serious mental illness. Read more: AP

 

 

 

20 children killed in Connecticut elementary school shooting


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Dozens were shot at  a Connecticut elementary school this morning leaving at least 26 dead, including 20 children, said Connecticut state police.  According to multiple reports, the shooter has been identified by officials as Adam Lanza, 20.  Earlier reports indicated his brother Ryan Lanza as the shooter.

The shooting took place at approximately 9:40 a.m. when a man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire near the school’s main office, according to reports. The shooter is dead, said Lieutenant Paul Vance of Connecticut State Police at a press briefing.

According to reports, Lanza’s mother, who worked in the school, is among those killed.  Reports also indicate that his father and brother have also been found dead.

CBS2 reported that a SWAT team is at the suspected shooter’s New Jersey home.  A second suspect is in police custody, according to CBS News.

Police evacuated children and faculty out of the school that runs from kindergarten to fourth grade to a staging area where kids were reunited with their parents. Vance said the public is currently at no risk.

The dozens of injured were taken to Danbury Hospital, which remains on lock down.

An emotional President Barack Obama addressed the nation at 3:15 p.m. saying the country has seen too many of these tragedies the past few years.

“I know there is not a parent in America that does not feel the overwhelming grief that I do,” the president said. “They had their entire lives ahead of them. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.”

Obama said something must be done to stop further tragedies from taking place.

“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” he said.