03/31/18 6:00am
03/31/2018 6:00 AM

Last weekend, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Washington, D.C., and across America to protest the nation’s gun laws. Among those who spoke before the enormous crowds were survivors of the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. READ

01/10/13 4:32pm
01/10/2013 4:32 PM

“The National Rifle Association of America is made up of over 4 million moms and dads, daughters and sons, who are involved in the national conversation about how to prevent a tragedy like Newtown from ever happening again.  We attended today’s White House meeting to discuss how to keep our children safe and were prepared to have a meaningful conversation about school safety, mental health issues, the marketing of violence to our kids and the collapse of federal prosecutions of violent criminals.

“We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment.  While claiming that no policy proposals would be “prejudged,” this Task Force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners – honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans.  It is unfortunate that this Administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen. Instead, we will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works – and what does not.”

Source: Media statement from the NRA.

12/28/12 10:00am

Southold Elementary School will install new locking safety doors and the school district will hold both announced and unannounced emergency drills in conjunction with the police department in January, in response to the elementary school massacre earlier this month in Newtown, Conn.

“We know that this can happen anywhere. We can always do better. The system in place needs to be enhanced,” said Superintendent David Gamberg at a school board meeting Dec. 19. “We don’t want to create a state of fear, but there will be a series of drills … This is a very stark reminder that we have to be proactive, not reactive … We’re not going to ignore the subject.”

Mr. Gamberg said that while the district’s students “have presented themselves in a very composed way” since the tragedy, the students can speak to mental health professionals in the school any time they are afraid.

Parent Amy Burns, who has three children in the district, tearfully read a letter to the board, urging them to do more to protect children.

She suggested the school not allow students to carry backpacks, which could conceal weapons, in the hallways, and to not allow high school students to leave the school at lunch time.

Ms. Burns said she also sent a letter this week to her son’s kindergarten teacher thanking her for taking care of her students every day.

“I know she would die getting all those children out of there,” she said. “I’m so blessed to be a part of Southold.”

“We’ve all had sleepless nights this past week,” said board president Paulette Ofrias. “I wish more people would share their thoughts and ideas.”

Ms. Ofrias added that between the hurricane, the death of a Southold student at a recent cross-country meet and the Newtown incident, she’s noticed that students in Southold have seemed heavy-hearted this fall.

“All I can hope for is that 2013 will be better for our students, the community and the nation,” she said.

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12/24/12 2:23pm

WHAM COURTESY PHOTO | The scene of a the fire Monday morning in Webster, N.Y., where two fire fighters were shot and killed and three other emergency responders were injured.

Reports that two firefighters were killed and two more were injured along with a police officer after a gunman shot them at the scene of a fire in upstate Webster came as particularly troubling news to local first responders this Christmas Eve.

“It’s especially bizarre because of this time of year,” said Southold police chief Martin Flatley. “There’s usually a lot of anger directed toward police officers because they make arrests and write tickets, but firefighters’ dealings with the public are usually to save lives, so that’s very unfortunate. ”

The shooting, which occurred after the fire was reported at 5:45 a.m., comes just 10 days after a gunman in Connecticut left 20 children and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It marks the fourth mass shooting in the U.S. this month.

Police in Webster, which is more than 400 miles from here in Rochester, say they believe the fire was intentionally set by the shooter.

“Volunteer firefighters and police officers were injured and two were taken from us as they once again answered the call of duty,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Monday.

The news hit close to home for volunteer firefighters like Dennis Hamill  an ex-chief in Riverhead, who said the shooting puts local volunteers on high alert.

“We in Riverhead very rarely ever have had any trouble with people threatening our lives or any kind of violence,” said Mr. Hammill, chairman of Riverhead’s Board of Fire Commissioners. “But you just have to be very, very aware.

“You always have to keep it in the back of your mind. We have no answers for Connecticut. We can’t see in people’s heads. You just have to be aware of your circumstances.”

Chief Flatley said it was once common for NYPD officers to be dispatched to fire scenes specifically to protect firefighters at the scene in the rougher neighborhoods of New York City, but that’s not something done on the North Fork.

“There used to be random violence against firefighters in bad neighborhoods [in NYC],” he said. “But we’ve never had anything like that happen out here.”

Jim Lessard, an ex-chief in Mattituck, said Monday’s shooting strengthens the argument for stricter gun laws in America.

“At this point after what happened in Connecticut, as the president has indicated, something needs to be done,” Mr. Lessard said Monday. “I don’t care what the NRA says about the constitution. Slavery used to be in the constitution.”

On Friday, National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre called for more guns in the wake of last week’s shooting, proposing to put an armed guard in all schools to protect students and staff.

“To hell with the NRA, let’s fix these laws and enforce them,” Mr. Lessard said.

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12/21/12 9:50am
12/21/2012 9:50 AM

The Suffolk County Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services advised all county fire departments and districts that a national commemoration for Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims would take place Friday morning, according to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s office.

If you heard an emergency alarm sounding at 9:45 a.m., know that all fire departments  were  invited to voluntarily sound their alarms 26 times to honor the 26 victims of the Newtown, Conn. tragedy and the firefighters and EMS personnel who responded to the incident.

12/18/12 5:00pm
12/18/2012 5:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | A 12-year-old Bishop McGann-Mercy Junior High School student was suspended this week after making an Internet threat.

A 12-year-old Bishop McGann-Mercy Junior High School student has been suspended after making threats on Instagram and Facebook this weekend saying he might have a gun that he would use to hurt his fellow students, teachers and himself, according to a Riverhead police report.

A school administrator notified the Riverhead Town Police Department of the threat Sunday night and a Southold Town police officer visited with the parents of the boy, who lives in Southold Town, according to the report.

The boy’s mother told investigators and school administrators that her son has no access to any weapons, police said. The school declined to press charges against the student, the report states.

A marked Riverhead police vehicle was dispatched to the school before the start of classes Monday, the day the student said he would bring the gun to school.

The police report was filed just two days after a 20-year-old Connecticut man opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 children, six adults and himself.

In an unrelated incident, a 13-year-old Westbury Middle School student was arrested Monday after making an Internet threat to kill two female classmates, according to Nassau County police.

Bishop McGann-Mercy is a Catholic school educating students in grades seven through 12. The school’s principal, Carl Semmler, said in a voicemail message to parents Wednesday, the morning after this report was first published, that the school learned of the post after administrators were made aware of several comments students made on social networks following the shooting.

“Some of the posts were constructive, but some inappropriate comments were made,” he said.

Mr. Semmler said the school took the appropriate steps to get law enforcement involved and ultimately determined there was “no threat” to students and staff.

“We are here to support to your students,” he said.

School officials declined comment when contacted for this story.

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12/17/12 8:00am
12/17/2012 8:00 AM

To the Editor:

I have literally felt sick to my stomach after hearing about the horrific tragedy that has happened in Connecticut. My thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to those parents who are now living a Hell on earth.

Now is not the time for the media to fan a “gun control” flame. Now is not the time to put gun owners against those who don’t support the right to bear arms. This tragedy is not all about guns. In fact, I had this discussion with a close friend. I will go as far as to say that the media is partially to blame for this act of violence.

The manner which the media covers many inhumane acts of terror and violence is creating a new subculture of superheroes. The media indirectly glorifies these maniacs and overexposes them. To those of us who are normal, we just look in disgust and sympathize with the victims. For those who may be mentally ill, a new hero is created. Fame is immediately achieved. Legend is immediately created. And a new copy cat is always watching.

The copy cat is now even getting ideas that may have never entered his mind. The media always gives us all a detailed description of how the psycho put together the master plan. Good food for thought for the next super-villain.

The fact that there have been so many school shootings that we can now actually rank them boggles my mind. What has become of our society? Furthermore, the media can put whatever subject matter it wants out there to the public without any system of checks and balances. Barring foul language and nudity, what content guidelines do they have to follow?

I don’t know the answer or the remedy on how to fix people or better society, but I think if people want to challenge the second amendment, we may also want to take another look at the first amendment as well.

David Muntner, Mattituck

12/16/12 10:00am
12/16/2012 10:00 AM

ABC NEWS COURTESY PHOTO | A sign welcoming visitors to Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of Friday’s mass school shooting that left 27 people dead.

To the Editor:

It is impossible to articulate the magnitude of the horror of the massacre in Connecticut .

Those who say “guns don’t kill, people do” are so wrong. If that mentally ill young man had a knife, there would have been loss of life, but nothing nearly as horrific.

It is time, for us as a nation of good and decent people, to  band together to have the gun laws changed. Please.

Rosellen Storm, Southold

12/14/12 4:01pm
12/14/2012 4:01 PM

GOOGLE MAPS | Reports indicate 27 people were killed at a school shooting in Newtown, Conn. School officials from across the North Fork have expressed their sympathies.

North Fork school officials are offering additional counseling services to help students and parents cope with today’s school shooting where a reported 27 people were killed — including 20 children and the gunman— at an elementary school in Connecticut.

According to the Associated Press, a law enforcement official said the attacker in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, had ties to the school and that a gun used in the attacks was a .223-caliber rifle. The school is located in Newtown, Conn. — about 60 miles northeast of New York City. His mother who worked at the school, Nancy Lanza, was reportedly the 28th victim found shot to death in her home.

Dick Malone, superintendent of the Oysterponds elementary school in Orient, said district psychologist Dan Goldfarb is being made available to speak with children’s parents as they struggle to grapple with what happened so close to home.

“Sometimes parents need help with advice and direction in how to handle this,” Mr. Malone said.

As for any safety concerns, Mr. Malone added the school has a new security system in place, which involves locking the facility after the school day starts and requiring all visitors to go through a video monitoring system at the front door.

Shoreham-Wading River school superintendent Steven Cohen described today’s shooting as “extremely disturbing,” and said the district has counselors in each building and is prepared to shift some of them from the high school and middle school over to the elementary school if needed.

Mattituck-Cutchogue school superintendent James McKenna said he first learned about the Connecticut school shooting after visiting a student at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead who was injured during a bus accident on Main Road in Aquebogue earlier this morning.

“My head just spins with why or how could something like this happen,” Mr. McKenna said Friday afternoon.

When asked, Mr. McKenna said today’s tragedy doesn’t compare to a 2009 shooting at Mattituck High School where a single bullet — allegedly fired from a .22-caliber rifle by a man living near the school — buzzed through an open classroom window and inexplicably slowed down enough not to severely hurt a female student, whose head was struck by the projectile.

The victim suffered only minor injuries from the bullet fragments.

“The incident that day was an unfortunate one,” he said. “That was a freak accident, but it makes you realize that anything can happen at any place at any time.”

Today’s event in Connecticut is the second-deadliest school shooting in the nation’s history since the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre in Blacksburg, Va., in which a gunman killed 32 people and then himself.

Greenport school officials just held a public presentation last Thursday called “Rachel’s Challenge,” a national anti-bullying program that is based on the writings of 17-year-old Rachel Scott, the first student killed during the 1999 Columbine High School shooting massacre in Littleton, Colo., which left a total of 15 people dead, including 12 students, a teacher and both gunmen, who committed suicide following the nearly 22-minute rampage.

Officials at Greenport, New Suffolk, Southold and Riverhead school districts weren’t immediately available for comment.

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