Many children here in the Tampa Bay area didn't find out about the Connecticut shooting until their parents picked them up from school Friday afternoon, as the dramatic and tragic story was still unfolding.
All of the parents we spoke with were horrified by the news and hoped to gently break it to their kids before they learned the awful details from someone else.
"Oh, it just, it broke my heart, that it happened at an elementary school and these parents aren't ever going to see their babies ever again," said Jennifer Copeland, who broke the news of the shooting to both of her young sons, as soon as she picked them up from school.
"They're gonna hear it," said Copeland." I'd rather them hear it from me than somebody else."
She gave her son Zachary an extra big hug.
"The first thing I said, 'Oh, Iove you guys', and when he heard me say it to my older son after I picked him up, he was like, 'okay Mommy, what's going on?' "
"Was that unexpected?," we asked Zachary. "Yes," he said. "Kind of". "What did you say back to her?" we asked. "I was like, um, is everything ok?," he said smiling.
"And I told him there was just a shooting today and it just made me appreciate you guys, that you're here in the car with me," said Copeland.
"That doesn't make you afraid to go to your own school does it?," we aked. "A little," he admitted.
"You cannot hear something like that and your heart not be broken for the families," said retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Greg Trebon, who is a father of six.
He used to live in Tampa, but now lives in Dallas, TX now, and was in town visiting his daughter Noelle. Trebon said no matter how high you build the walls or secure a building, you're never fully safe.
"A determined psycho who's gonna do something like that, will find a way to get in through that barrier," said Trebon. "The people in the military have learned that, you can't build a fortress big enough, but what you can do is create an environment where there's vigilance, and people know that people are paying attention."
Here's what Trebon would tell his 9-year-old, back in Dallas: "The world is a good place but there are a small number of very bad people and unfortunately, that's part of life."
"I don't think there is an easy way to explain that," said Trebon's oldest daughter Noelle Trebon-Longen, who has two sons in elementary school. She said, going overboard with some safety measures and restrictions might actually do more damage to kids.
"Would actually make them feel less safe than you want them to feel," said Trebon-Longen.
Virann Welbourn's mom didn't want to talk on camera, but her 1st grade daughter was eager to share with us what her mom told her and her brother to do for the children in Connecticut.
"Pray for them, and make sure they go to heaven," she said.
All of the parents we spoke with send their prayers to the families who lost children and to those who are still living. The images those kids witnessed Friday will no doubt be a part of the rest of their lives.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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