As the nation has watched the events unfold in Connecticut, for some, it has been a very personal story. YNN's Bill Carey has the story of a Central New York woman who mourns for a former hometown.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. – “I just can't believe it. I mean, it was such a safe community. I can't imagine what those people are going through,” said Lisa Pliszka.
Pliszka is among the millions who watched in horror last Friday as details emerged on a deadly shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. But Pliszka may have watched with more interest and concern than many. Until just a few years ago, Pliszka worked at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of the deadly attack.
“Great community,” Pliszka said. “A town that, a very young town that we thought was a very nice place to raise our family.”
A call from a daughter alerted her to what was happening in her old hometown.
Pliszka recalled, “My daughter called me, actually, at 10 o'clock in the morning and said, ‘Mom, somebody posted something on Facebook about Sandy Hook Elementary. What's going on?’ Because she's still friends with a lot of the kids down there. I started surfing the internet and heard some of the reports about what happened. And I just could not believe it. Not in a community like that.”
Pliszka, now employed by Fayetteville-Manlius School District, worked as a teacher's aide at Sandy Hook Elementary. Later, she became a math specialist. The one thing that always seemed clear, to her, was that the school was safe.
“When I left there in 2006, they had just put in a security system where you had to buzz in to get inside the door. I do remember having lockdown drills. I do remember doing those. You know, I mean, I don't know how much safer you, what you can do,” Pliszka said.
She braced herself Friday, knowing that the list of dead would include some old co-workers, along with children from her former community. One name on the list stung. Ann Marie Murphy, another teacher's aide had been a close friend.
“It's devastating,” Pliszka said. “It's, I mean, yeah.”
These days, Lisa Pliszka lives 260 miles from Newtown. But there is little doubt where her heart resides this week.