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Home U.S. 10 Years Later, a State Trooper Who Responded to Sandy Hook Looks Back

10 Years Later, a State Trooper Who Responded to Sandy Hook Looks Back

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NEWTOWN, Connecticut — Bill Currio, one of the first law enforcement officers to enter Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, is responsible for the shooting that killed 20 first graders and six educators. I strongly insist that the story about the 10th anniversary should be published. don’t focus on him

He said it should be about Rick Thorne, the school janitor who heard gunfire and moved down the hallway and locked the classroom to protect the people in it. About an unnamed cop who led the hunt for the shooter, knowing he was there.

Or about police detective Rachel Van Ness, who hand-laundered the clothes her children wore that day and returned those items to their grieving parents, which she decorated in their children’s favorite colors. I snuggled up to the small trunk.

And most of all, about the family themselves, who honored their loved ones with countless philanthropic and public service efforts.

Mr. Kallio’s photo is not in this article because he didn’t want it.

“I’m telling you what others have done,” Kallio said over lunch at Newtown’s Blue Colony Diner.

But many of those Kallio has acknowledged say he epitomizes the response to Sandy Hook, which began with duty and ended with love.

“He’s forever your quintessential soldier. He ran us aground,” said the former New Jersey firefighter, Where Angels Play Foundation Built 26 playgrounds to commemorate the victims. “But it’s hard to get Bill to verbalize it.”

Mr. Carrio was a Connecticut State Police sergeant parked near Newtown when he got the call that day. Running into the school, he encounters an injured educator, Natalie Hammond, taking refuge in a conference room. He told her he would be back for her and ran after her gunman with Newtown police officers.

Then, in a classroom full of mostly young victims, Ben Wheeler, 6, was found still breathing, with wounds that gave little hope of survival. Mr. Kallio and his fellow troopers are haunted by their failure to save those who died that day. But by deciding not to tell anyone but myself what I saw, I was able to protect my family.

Kallio has maintained this norm through new battles with post-traumatic stress, divorce, retirement, and life-threatening illness. By resisting the limelight, the trooper helped her family maintain the ability to contemplate carnage in their own time, Ben’s father, David Wheeler, said this week.

“The desire for information has always been buzzing in the back of my head,” Wheeler said. rice field.

Wheeler said in an interview, “Their default mechanism is not to assume that we want the information they have, but above all to make sure they are carefully guarding it. It was,” he said.

“The more the world knows about Bill Kallio, the better,” Wheeler added. “I feel that way about the whole team.”

Everything publicly known about Mr. Kallio’s experiences after the shooting is included in his official report.

He explained that he entered Classroom 8, which appeared empty until he and another officer peered into the classroom’s bathroom. Fifteen children tried to hide in a space approximately 4.5 feet by 3.5 feet.

“As I stared in disbelief, I recognized the face of a little boy,” Kallio wrote.

“The only specific image I have in that room is the little boy’s face.”

That boy was Ben Wheeler. Due to triage rules, Mr. Kallio had to attend to Mr. Hammond first to stop his bleeding. He then carries Ben on his back and runs to a police car near the entrance of the school where he is taken to a waiting ambulance. The child died minutes later on the way to the hospital. Mr. Hammond survived.

The choices faced by Mr. Kallio that day haunted him, but he did not speak publicly about them.

After the shooting, Connecticut assigned police officers to every family that wanted police to protect and guide them through the ensuing investigation. was to escort the

“I didn’t want to see, I didn’t want to. One morning I woke up and had to go,” recalls David Wheeler. His wife and Ben’s mother, Francine Wheeler, visited the school at another time.

Mr. Wheeler arrived accompanied by the ministers of Francine and Ben, and was greeted by a small group of men, including Mr. Kallio. Mr. Kallio stood by quietly. Workers removed everything touched by the carnage, including tiles, carpet, and drywall. The bathroom where Ben and his classmates died has been removed by a stud.

“It was really hard,” Wheeler recalls, peering into the small space. The trooper said he would share the details he needed. “The only question I could think of was ‘How many shells did they find on the floor here?’ ’ and they said ‘80’. It was devastating.

But there was another conversation between Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Kallio. Details of it remain private, but they say it has brought them peace.

“I’m so glad he was there,” Wheeler said. “There’s more to the fact that he took the time to say, ‘If David goes to school, I should go there too.'”

Last week, Kallio responded to an interview request via text message. His meaning was that someone else, not him, should be the focus of the article. We appreciate.

In the ensuing conversation, Kallio said, “I am heartbroken about this, but everyone in America who has a heart has it.” I couldn’t do anything for it.”

On Monday, Mr. Kallio saw the new Sandy Hook School in front of him and visited a new permanent memorial in memory of the victims of Sandy Hook. At the center of the monument is a pool of gently flowing water, with tough saplings growing from its central island. The granite sides of the pool are engraved with the names of the victims, with a white rose placed above each name.

A rose named Jessica Adrian Lekos had fallen. He took the flower back and exchanged it.

Four years ago, Kallio retired from the state police. He now works part-time for the military, including at a local elementary school. He describes the experience as “not all of 12/14”. Children who live on farms sometimes bring apples and honey from bees.

With a grin, he pulled out a picture of himself observing last week’s school “Pajama Day.” He wore a fluorescent traffic vest over a plaid bathrobe and pajamas emblazoned with cartoons and the slogan “Life is Good.”

Kallio observes the dates of the shootings in his own way, often visiting children’s graves. The silence for him is a contrast to the sight of that day.

Visiting one of the burial grounds shortly after the shooting, Mr. Kallio met an elderly man named Roy. Roy spent most of his time at the time at the grave of his daughter, who died the same year as his wife. The man, a World War II veteran, called Kallio “Surge” when he met him and offered to “get through this together,” Kallio recalled. They started gathering for coffee and beer.

Roy asked his surviving daughter to call Mr. Kallio to check on the day the elderly man was unable to stay at home because he was unwell. Years ago, Roy passed away, but he remains on a long list of people Mr. Kallio wants to look up to on his behalf.

“I don’t think these people, acts of kindness, or unexplained events happen by chance,” he said. “I think they’re there to get us through and heal.”

This December 14th, we visit Cario, who is undergoing intensive treatment for pancreatic cancer. His illness is another subject of his that Kallio hesitates to discuss. Mr. Wheeler didn’t know he was sick.

Wheeler said this week, “There are parts of me that wish I had done more to make Bill Kallio and others a part of my life and let them know how important they are.” “But for some reason it wasn’t supposed to, so I guess it probably didn’t happen.”

Mr. Kallio agreed. A conversation with Wheeler in an empty school ten years ago said it all.

“His words to me were very helpful,” said Kallio. “He said he understood.”

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