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OC officials pray for Newtown victims, talk safety

December 17, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Orange County officials are praying for the victims of Newtown, Conn., and talking about safety in schools. The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary has heightened the importance of being prepared more than ever before.

Santa Ana Police Chaplain Bob Barnett said a prayer for the Sandy Hook victims in front of the old Orange County courthouse in Santa Ana.

"We know Lord God what your scriptures have to say with reference to you being a God of all comfort. We turn to you today seeking that comfort," said Santa Ana Police Chaplain Bob Barnett.

The Santa Ana Unified School District said a crisis response team made up of school psychologists, counselors and mental health professionals will be mobilized to help students, staff and parents deal with the tragic events. Santa Ana Unified School District Superintendent Thelma Melendez recorded a message that was sent to parents and guardians.

"It hits close to home to all of us. When we see a tragedy like this, it pierces our heart," said Dr. Thelma Melendez, superintendent of Santa Ana Unified School District.

In a moment to remember the 26 people gunned down at Sandy Hook, the mayor of Santa Ana read the names of the victims.

"We all stand today in solidarity with the people of Newtown, with the parents of Sandy Hook, 20 angels taken from us," said California State Sen. Lou Correa.

Santa Ana City Council and members of the Santa Ana Unified School District are hoping to provide some comfort by letting residents know what's in place in Santa Ana schools.

"Crimes in our schools have gone down for more than a decade. This Board of Education has made a huge commitment and an investment in ensuring that our students are safe," Melendez said.

Police say the tragedy 3,000 miles away is a reminder for everyone to watch out for each other and report any abnormal activity.

"If you see something suspicious, something that's out of the ordinary, we need that phone call because by time we're responding and putting our emergency plans into effect, it might be too late," said acting Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas.

Valencia Park Elementary held a lockdown drill Monday morning to make certain its students are ready for the unthinkable, easing some parents' concerns in the process. But despite all the safety precautions under way across Southern California schools, parents still feel rattled by society's access to firearms.

"My concerns are obviously crazy people with guns," said parent Cristina Avelos.


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