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Community emerging as theme after Newtown shooting

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 17, 2013 at 11:22 am •  Published: February 17, 2013

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Ian and Nicole Hockley lived across the street from Adam Lanza, but they never got to know him or his family before the 20-year-old gunman killed their young son and 25 other people inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In the weeks since the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown, the couple said they have wondered whether more community involvement in Lanza's life might have prevented the bloodshed.

"If I had reached out to them, would things have been different? I don't know," Nicole Hockley said. "I do have a regret there, without a doubt. But would it have made a difference? I will never know."

Coming together has been a popular theme at vigils and concerts held in tribute to the 26 people killed inside the schoolhouse. For some of the families who lost loved ones, a renewed focus on community would be a silver lining to the tragedy.

The Hockleys are among the families working with Sandy Hook Promise, a local grass-roots group dedicated to the idea that community members could support each other and turn "tragedy into a moment of transformation."

Tim Makris, a co-founder of the group, said it has been facilitating community meetings, meetings with other communities that have been involved in gun violence, and meetings with groups on different sides of the political debates on such issues as gun control. He said everyone agrees the bloodshed should not have happened, and that is a starting point.

"We are creating a dialogue and different thinking, and therefore common ground," he said.

The parents of another shooting victim, Chase Kowalski, have started a foundation in the hope of building community centers in his honor, first in Newtown, and then in other communities.

"We would like to see families get back to core family values," Rebecca Kowalski told WTIC-AM. "It's not about dropping your kid off at some place to play. It's about going with your child and playing with that child and being an intricate part of their lives."

Lanza has been described as a loner who lived with his divorced mother and enjoyed playing violent video games. He killed Nancy Lanza inside their 3,100-square-foot home, shot his way into the school on Dec. 14, gunned down 20 first-graders and six educators, and committed suicide as police arrived, according to investigators.

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