Newtown Police visit Gadsden County to share insight on tragedy

Posted at 5:41 PM, Jul 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-09 17:41:00-04

GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL)--Nearly seven months after 26 people, mostly children, were killed in the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, the police who responded are here in Gadsden County, sharing some insight on the tragedy to help others in the event it happens here.

"They're were bodies laying around and we had to save people," said Lt. Christopher Vanghele with Newtown Police.

Lt. Christopher Vanghele was one of the first officers to walk into the school in Newtown, Connecticut after 20 children and six adults were killed on Dec. 14, 2012.

"When you see it you're mind doesn't want to believe it," said Lt. Vanghele. "You suffer some tunnel vision but you realize you have a job to do and at the same time you feel your life is in danger."

As Lt. Vanghele and the Newtown community continue to heal, he's sharing his story with law enforcement and school leaders across north Florida at the Second Annual Rural County Summit in Havana.

"In Connecticut, we learned certain things from this tragedy," said Lt. Paul Vance with Connecticut State Police. "We learned certain things that were good and bad from a professional stand point and as professionals we are hear to exchange that information."

The information includes assigning a trooper or officer to each family who has lost a loved one in a mass shooting to get the answers they need, and adding teams at schools specifically to recognize problems before they escalate to violence.

"We hope and pray nothing to that magnitude happens in Gadsden County but we wanted to bring presenters in, folks who have been on the ground and witnessed some of these traumatic events," said Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young.

The school safety summit lasts through Wednesday with sessions that cover hostage situations and preparing for mass casualty incidents.