NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Fighting back tears and struggling to catch his breath, the father of a 6-year-old gunned down in the school shooting in Connecticut told the world Saturday about a little girl who loved to draw and was always smiling, and he also reserved surprising words of sympathy for the gunman.
Robbie Parker's daughter Emilie was among the 20 children who died Friday in the one of the worst attacks on schoolchildren in U.S. history. He was one of the first parents to speak publicly about their loss.
"She was beautiful. She was blond. She was always smiling," he said.
Parker spoke to reporters not long after police released the names and ages of the victims, a simple document that told a horrifying story of loss.
He expressed no animosity, said he was not mad and offered sympathy for family of the man who killed 26 people and himself.
To the man's family, he said, "I can't imagine how hard this experience must be for you."
He said he struggled to explain the death to Emilie's two siblings, 3 and 4.
"They seem to get the fact that they have somebody they're going to miss very much," he said.
Parker said his daughter loved to try new things — except for new food. And she was quick to cheer up those in need.
"She never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for those she around her," he said.
The world is a better place because Emilie was in it, he said.
"I'm so blessed to be her dad," he said.