Two police officers who made emergency responses to the 12/14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School were among the first responders who were honored on June 2 in Washington, D.C., at the Ford’s Theatre Annual Gala.
At the event on stage, Brian Stokes Mitchell, a Broadway actor and singer, read a statement concerning Newtown Police Sergeant David Kullgren’s participation in the police response to the incident.
The statement reads: “The first calls came in: ‘Shots fired in the school.’ We reacted like a flock of birds moving together. Everybody emptied out of the police department in a similar pattern of urgency. We ran to the sound of gunfire, then the unimaginable was there at our feet, and engraved in our minds.”
It adds, “Two or three days after December 14, a neighbor came over with his daughter and brought dinner to say ‘Thank you.’ There weren’t many words exchanged, but we both understood. I said goodbye, closed the door, dropped to one knee and bawled my eyes out. I then realized that’s what I need to focus on — all the kids who we got out safely. That was a healing trigger.”
Heidi Blickenstaff, who is a Broadway actress, read a statement, describing Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs’ response to the incident. Chief Fuchs is a Newtown resident.
It reads: “The morning of December 14, 2012, at about 9:30 am I was in my police car leaving the Town of Redding and heading to the Hartford region. As I reached the Newtown town line, I began to hear radio transmissions from our neighboring department — these transmissions appeared to involve what we in law enforcement call an active shooter response to a school.”
It adds, “While I did not know to which school the Newtown Police had responded, it was readily apparent that my fellow police officers in Newtown were about to become actively engaged in the clearing of one of our schools in response to an invasion of sorts. My first thoughts turned to the Newtown High School and to my daughter who is a student there — as we in law enforcement have for the past many years prepared for that scenario — but never to an elementary school — and not the one my children had attended.”
It adds, “But…before 9:45 that morning, I found myself, along with two other Redding police officers and Redding EMS, standing in the parking lot of the Sandy Hook School. What transpired during the course of the next many hours, many days, and many weeks — and the tasks performed and visions observed — I have a feeling — my brain, along with many others, will never, and I suppose thankfully, properly process.”
Also honored at the gala were first responders Matthew Patterson of Lynn Fire Department in Massachusetts, and Robert Payne of West Volunteer Fire Department in Texas.
Mr Patterson was an off-duty medic and firefighter from Lynn who happened to be at the scene of the April 15 bombing incident at the Boston Marathon.
Mr Payne responded to the explosion and subsequent major structure fire that occurred on April 17 at a fertilizer plant in West.
Various performances at the gala were followed by a dinner at the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum.