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President Barack Obama Goes to Hawaii for Holidays; NRA Proposes to Put Police Officers in Every School

Aired December 22, 2012 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: This is a special edition of the SITUATION ROOM.

It has now been more than a week since we learned the devastating news of the massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Today, we'll remember the victims.

We'll also go in depth on where the investigation stands, and talk with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Drew Pinsky, about what medical science has learned about the mind of a killer.

We'll also look ahead of where do we go from here? Especially when it comes to the right to bear arms in the United States, and what President Obama called the nation's epidemic of gun violence.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer.

We begin our special edition of the SITUATION ROOM by focusing in on the search for answers. Why? Why would a 20-year-old man kill his mother, then gun down 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook elementary school before taking his own life? Why?

Police are not the only ones pouring over the evidence, exploring answers. Medical investigators are all over this case as well.

Let's go to our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He is joining us now.

Now, Sanjay, you have been taking a very close look, potentially at the mind of a killer.

DOCTOR SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that question, why, Wolf that you ask, you know, it is hard to say for sure whether there is ever going to be a satisfactory answer to that question. But there are several things that medical investigators runs investigators are going to look for, including specific patterns.

We looked at ten of the most widely studied cases, tragedies, I should say in history. And take a look at what we found.


GUPTA (voice-over): First thing you notice when you look around Newtown, everyone has that questioning look, why? What did we miss, if anything? No answers yet. Just hindsight.

To try to make some sense of the tragedy here in Newtown, be Connecticut, medical investigators are also looking at evidence of patterns, not talking about clothing styles or musical preferences or even life-style, but rather looking for evidence of specific plans could give some clues as to what was happening in the person's mind and in their brain.

It is hard to know, because thankfully, there are relatively few tragedies like this one. But a close look at ten of the most analyzed mass murder cases in history provide remarkable insight. According to this journal, doctors typically start by placing these killers into three categories. Traumatized, psychotic, psychopathic.

In 2005, 16-year-old killed nine people at a school in Minnesota. A look in his past revealed an abused boy with an awful family history. The shooter had been previously traumatized. The Virginia tech 32 people, six were murdered Arizona and we lives were taken in Aurora Colorado movie theater.

In each case, the killers showed signs of psychotic behavior, severe delusions and paranoia. Thirteen people were killed in Columbine, Colorado. One of the murders was later discovered to be textbook psychopath and we now know even laughed will gunning down his victims. Looking back, none of them had snapped. They had all left clues, pieced together after it was too late.

We still don't know much about the shooter who lived in this home. But there is something else to consider. What medications, if any, he was on. And specifically, talking about antidepressants. If you look at the studies in other shootings like this that have happened, medications like this were a common factor.

Now, I want to be clear. I'm not saying that antidepressants can't be effective. But people seemed to agree that there is a vulnerable time. When someone starts his medications and when someone stops can lead to increase impulsibility (ph), decreased judgment and making somebody out of touch.

None of this is an excuse, and it is never just one thing. None of these behaviors will fully predict or explain why. But soon again, there will be hindsight that might just help prevent another tragedy.


GUPTA: And I should point out, Wolf, as well, with regard to the medications as a part of that study, over a seven-year period, 11,000 episodes of violence due to drug side effects, specifically. But it is worth noting that most of the time the violence was directed for themselves, and much more common for it to lead to a suicide versus a homicide, and certainly not a mass homicide., Wolf

BLITZER: The fact that this was a mass murder suicide, did the fact the killer took his own life say anything special about his mental state? GUPTA: Well, you know, there is no hard and fast rules, let me preface with that. But, there is something that is worth considering here. And that is that if you have a notion that what you're doing is wrong, right and wrong, you think that it is wrong, it could be more likely to end up in a suicide.

You know, people for example in Arizona with Jared Loughner. It was not clear to him why he was being arrested. James Holmes, it speaks to a delusional state, with complete loss of reality. Here, within the people who do kill themselves, which again, is the most common scenario, some idea that they could distinguish right versus wrong. And obviously, the planning in this case speaks to that as well. Again, Wolf, there are no hard and fast rules, and people are going - abet the kind of questions these medical forensic examiners are going to be asking.

BLITZER: Let me ask you to stand by, Sanjay, because later we're going to go through some personal reflection on about what has happened.

Sanjay Gupta reporting, reporting for us.

During the four days, I reported from Newtown, Connecticut. I saw so much pain, so much strength though, at the site same time. We're bringing you some glimpses of the 26 victims at the Sandy Hook elementary school. And the people who loved them so much.

CNN's Poppy Harlow spoke with the boyfriend of the teacher, Lauren Russeau.



POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thirty and in love, Tony Lusardi, and Lauren Russeau.

Do you remember the moment you knew you were in love with her?

LUSARDI: Yes, the first date I had with her, I knew.

HARLOW: At a wine bar where they shared their first kiss, Lauren called him Lovie, he called her "busy bee," one of those people that didn't have a mean bone in her body.

LUSARDI: She didn't like to honk her horn people that cut her off in traffic because she thought it would be mean if she honk at them.

HARLOW: Lauren liked to send Tony cards like this one.

LUSARDI: Tony, this card made me giggle and think of you, very appropriate.

HARLOW: These silly photos taken at a friend's wedding, exactly two months before Lauren died.

LUSARDI: This is the second try, making funny faces. There was like a first one where, you know, she just like, I don't have a funny face.

HARLOW: They just celebrated one year of dating in November.

LUSARDI: I'm really glad that I had a really good relationship for a year instead of a relationship that had fights for years.

HARLOW: The same month, she became a permanent substitute teacher at Sandy Hook elementary school.

LUSARDI: She was thrilled and loved to tell me what she was doing that week. She would send a text, we're doing this or that, and send tons of pictures of kids where, you know, how they created that day.

HARLOW: They were planning to see "the hobbit" on Friday night. But the last text Tony got from Lauren was at 8:58 a.m.

LUSARDI: It doesn't seem real. It doesn't seem permanent and finite.

HARLOW: You think you may see her again.

LUSARDI: I'm convinced that I'll see her again. I have like a little squish pillow, that is like a little pillow for your head that she had. It smells like her, it smells like her perfume.

HARLOW: And it still does?

LUSARDI: When I wake up in the morning, I can smell, you know, my girlfriend's perfume, and it makes me cry.

HARLOW: The love of his life, is how Lauren's obituary describes Tony.

LUSARDI: I only got one year with her. It is kind of bad to say, but I'm jealous of her friends that got more than one year. All I got was one, but it was a really good year.

HARLOW: You hugged President Obama when he was here Sunday night?

LUSARDI: Yes, but I want a hug from Lauren, you know, and I'm not going to get that.

HARLOW: I know. It is this song they both loved. And this song that will always remind Tony of his Lauren.

LUSARDI: I want the world to know that Lauren was a great person. She touched the lives of everyone she ever met, even if you only met her once. You liked her. She was a great person. And she didn't deserve this. No one deserved this.


BLITZER: And Poppy is joining us now.

Poppy, Lauren was buried, as you know on Thursday. You got a chance to speak with Tony about the funeral. What did he tell you?

HARLOW: He told me, Wolf, that it was beautiful and that it was touching. And then he asked if I was wearing purple, because he said that is Lauren's favorite color. She gave Tony Christmas gifts already, the prepared teacher, as ever. And they're wrapped. And I asked Tony, have you un-wrapped them. And he said no, and I can't because this makes this all too real - Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Poppy, thank you very much for that report, what a moving report it was. Multiply that by so many, you are going to sense of the enormity of this tragedy.

The man who became the face of this shooting investigation told me how difficult it was for him and the other first responders to see the horrific crime scene.

And the father of the Virginia tech university shooting victim, shares his experience coping with unspeakable loss.


BLITZER: While I was in Newtown, Connecticut, I spoke with the man who became the public face of the investigation, the Connecticut state police lieutenant, Paul Vance.


BLITZER: Lieutenant Vance, in your 39-year career, how do you prepare for the enormity of a tragedy like this?

LIEUTENANT PAUL VANCE, CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE: Training, training, constant, constant, training things you hope you will never have to use, just like the side arm that I wear, you hope you never have to use it. You have to train, you have to prepare, because when you get to a scene or situation, even the scene of this magnitude, you have to act. And there is no time.

BLITZER: Because you have emerged as the chief spokesperson. You're telling not only people here, but all over the world what is going on. It must take a toll on you.

VANCE: It does. But our training prepares us to work through those issues. To go through something like that is devastating, it is truly devastating, because we're only human. And we think about the families, we think about these children and we think about the people that lost their lives, we think about the teachers who protected those children. And all of these things, you processed, but you have to move them aside and move forward, and do what you're trained to do.

BLITZER: And you met with the families of these 26 victims, 20 kids, six educators; that must have been one of the most difficult things you have ever done in your life.

VANCE: I was a part of it, but quite frankly, the people assigned to work with them, the one-on-one if you will, the interviewers that had to interview people, those were very hard jobs, very hard things to do. There were so many people that played such a major role in this whole situation that it really was spread out among many.

BLITZER: Was there -- I know the whole thing has been painful. Painful for all of us who have been here. I can only man what the families were going through. But is there one moment that stands out in your mind that you will never forget the rest of your life?

VANCE: I think the crime scene itself is something has made an indelible mark on our minds. If you were tasked with the responsibility of going into the crime scene, it is something that we will never be able to erase.

BLITZER: You mean, when you walked into the Sandy Hook elementary school and you saw the bodies of little kids on the floor?


BLITZER: How can you -- that must be so shocking. That must be so traumatic?

VANCE: It is an indelible mark that will never go away.

BLITZER: You never saw anything like that before in your life?


BLITZER: You have been to a lot of crime scenes?


BLITZER: This was the most horrific, by far?


BLITZER: So, let's look ahead now. We want to make sure this does not happen again. It will happen again, you know that, I know that, what can we do to reduce the chances of this happening again?

VANCE: Well, I think everyone has looked at this scene, this situation. We're always prepared, even when we were younger, for fire drills. We prepared for emergencies within the school. I think that is a constant thing that we're always going to do in our educational system. And review, re-review, look at it, see how we can make sure we continue to make our most precious children as safe as we can make them. We have to -- we worked through 9/11, and we continued, life went on. I don't want to simplify anything, but we have got to work through this.

BLITZER: Do we need a national commission to take a look at school safety? VANCE: That is above me. That is above me. I know on a local leader, our town leaders, our state leaders are all going to continuously look at safety to make sure the school children are always safe.

BLITZER: Lieutenant Vance, let me thank you for what you and all the men and women of the Connecticut state police have done. You have been a source of real strength to all of us as journalists and as Americans and citizens, and learning what is going on. You have done an outstanding job.

VANCE: Thank you very much. (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: Thank you.


BLITZER: President Obama issued a call to stop America's epidemic, he said "epidemic," of gun violence. Up next, I'll ask Dr. Drew Pinsky, what he hopes to see.


BLITZER: President Obama pointed to vice president Joe Biden to head a special task force on gun violence, charged with developing a specific agenda the president could submit to Congress next month.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Each one of these Americans was a victim of the everyday gun violence that takes the lives of more than 10,000 Americans every year. Violence that we cannot accept as routine. So I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. And I'm not going to be able to do it by myself. Ultimately, if this effort is to succeed it is going to require the help of the American people.


BLITZER: Let's bring in Dr. Drew Pinsky from our sister network, "HLN."

Dr. Drew, if President Obama were to asked you to join Joe Biden on this committee and come up within a month of specific recommendations, what would you tell him?

DOCTOR DREW PINSKY, HLN HOST: Well, I would tell him, first of all, it is not just about guns. It is about our crisis in mental health. And let me just sort of step back for a second, Wolf, and just tell you that I generally been kind of unhappy with our leaders in terms how emotionally they have supported our country. We have been wounded. We took a body shot. We have people suffering in Connecticut. We needed our leaders to get in there and get their hands dirty and expressed themselves. You remember as Rudy Giuliani led New York out of 9/11? That is the kind of leadership we needed. And I was kind of disappointed until today.

Today, I feel like we had our leaders doing something, taking action, letting us know that we need to gather as a country and help them take action. And all they're asking for is rationality. How many among us would say it is OK for people to have 100 rounds of clips in a banana? That is just not rationale. No one is talking about taking guns away. People are talking about taking away the opportunity for people to have massive, massive loss of life. And I think reasonable people is going to say that is something we can all get easily behind.

And thank you, President Obama for being clear that you are going to take action and you need our help. But it is not just about the guns. I tell you, on my program, we're getting deep with what to do about people and parents and family members with -- people with mental illness that are out of control. There is woeful, woeful resources in our country, people cannot get conservatorship. There is no state hospital. There is no structure.

And I would say President Obama please, please, there is so much more to be done here than just guns. And this is our opportunity, and Connecticut is just a symptom.

BLITZER: You know, and the president made it clear, he agrees with you. It is not just guns that are an issue, even though he did say you have to deal with military type assault weapons, high-capacity ammunition clips, background checks for gun purchasers. So, those are important. But he also did call to deal with this committee, this Joe Biden committee that should look at the mental health care we have in this country. How that could contribute to the gun violence.

PINSKY: He glossed on it, he did.

BLITZER: Also, the culture that seems to glorify, in his words, guns. Those are issues. He want this committee to raise as well.

PINSKY: I hope, I'm sorry but I hope they don't spend too much time on that. Because I don't believe that that is something that policy is going to determine. I do believe that those of us in the media can take a good hard look at that and should be more responsible with it and should be educating people about that. But I'm not sure that is a policy issue. That is a cultural issue, and media is a big part of culture.

He did gloss over the culture issues. I was again, not overwhelmingly excited with the sort of gentle gloss he put on that rather than we are going to focus on this. And by the way, he also glossed a little bit at the privacy issue in the background checks, even so far as checking for if there have been legal problems.

But I say, he has got to go further and we have to have rational -- just if we are rational with guns, we have to be rational about our privacy. If somebody has a history of mental illness that has any probability of making then predisposed to acting out, that's a big prostate that I'm making, the safety of the community should take precedence over the privacy rights in our system. And that will mean changes in our legal system.

BLITZER: In our new poll, our CNN/ORC poll, we asked the question, can government and society take actions to prevent another shooting? Back in January, 2011, 33 percent said yes, that is now up to 46 percent. So there is clearly a desire, maybe the aftermath of what we just saw in the past few days, a desire for the government to really step up.

PINSKY: Yes, Wolf, I think absolutely, this is the time. I saw a commentary, I think Michael Morph (ph), but I was saying, please let's back off and let the families mourn. No, that is wrong. The families need us to take action and take advantage of this, so their loved ones should not have died in vain. Our sentiments that are recorded in your poll there are precisely that opportunity press to gather as a community and to begin making a difference. We know - when we all are hurt, I deeply wounded by this. I'm beside myself from this episode in Connecticut. And as I keep telling everybody, making difference, service, faith, connection to other people. That is going to get us through. And here, now, is an opportunity for us all to gather as a community and make a difference.

BLITZER: Six years ago, one father shared with me the wrenching loss of his daughter in the Virginia tech massacre. Now, he has some advice for the parents of the children killed in Newtown.


BLITZER: Parents are now forced to come to terms with the hard reality, life without their child. Something my next guest knows all too well. I first spoke with him almost six years ago. Just after his daughter was killed in the Virginia tech shooting massacre.


JOE SAMAHA, FATHER OF VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTING VICTIM: And then we knew she was in that building. And found out she was that class was on the second floor. And we really -- I got very concerned. I kept it internally, because I always tried to have hope, hold out hope. And so did my wife and children. But I was all the time thinking the worst was happening to her.

BLITZER: And you were not getting any information from the campus, from authority here, from campus officials or the police or hospitals or anything?

SAMAHA: No one really could put the names of the victims with their IDs. As they were taken out of the room. So if they couldn't speak, for some reason or another they didn't know who they were. We called the hospitals. And that is how I did my homework. She was not on any list of injured or wounded. And so the morgue was the next natural place to call.

BLITZER: Did you actually go there? SAMAHA: No, we did not go there. They didn't allow us to go there. And they were not releasing any names until they could do a positive ID.

BLITZER: And so what time did you get the confirmation of this horrible, horrible news.

SAMAHA: Probably around an hour later, around 7:15, 7:30. it was actually a young fellow on campus, a friend who was at the building at a time. And he knew the ambulance drivers, and he is the one that came in and broke the news to me.

BLITZER: And we don't understand why this could happen.

SAMAHA: That is right.

BLITZER: Why bad things happen to good people.

SAMAHA: Absolutely, we just believe, and we hope, that you know -- and I grieve for the other families, too. It is senseless.


BLITZER: Joe Samaha is joining us here. He is the father of Rima.

Mr. Samaha, thanks very much. I'm sorry -- living through this, once again, but first of all, how are you doing?

SAMAHA: Fine, it is re-traumatization of all the families, the victims and survivors of our tragedy, as well. And I'm sure of the other tragedies across the country. You know, just two days prior to Newtown, there was a mall massacre, we had forgotten about that. There was northern Illinois university and the other schools. And we just can't forget them. And I know those families are re-traumatized, as well.

BLITZER: Your son, Omar, how is he doing?

SAMAHA: Omar is doing well. He is very active in public safety issues as well. What has come out of this tragedy is something I think that is amazing. And I want to tell the families in Newtown, there is hope.

BLITZER: There is hope, so you say when you heard the news of these 20 little first graders gunned down in Newtown, Friday morning, six educators, all children and women, what was your reaction?

SAMAHA: Numbness, just shock, horror, I could not believe it, you swell up, your eyes just tear up. And you say not again, when will it ever stop? And what can we do to make it not happen again, or make it harder for it not to happen again?

BLITZER: Because you lived through this horror, so --

SAMAHA: Yes. BLITZER: If any of these parents are watching, what advice do you have for them?

SAMAHA: Well, I will tell you Wolf that these families in Newtown, the Sandy Hook school families are on islands right now. The issues that we're talking about, the social issues we're talking about, the gun debate, we're talking about security in schools. That is a vortex swirling around them right now. Their immediate attention is themselves, between themselves, inter-family relationships. They're worried about, you know, what clothes they're going to put on their children to bury them, much less worry about what is going on, on the gun issue.

BLITZER: What do they expect, what do you expect they will have to endure in the coming months?

SAMAHA: I expect now that they're on these islands, there have to be bridges built to these islands. And there is a lot of love and care going into that. They will reach out to each other. They will form, hopefully, a support group among themselves to deal with this tragedy. At some point in time, the -- you know, the issue of politics will come into this. But they're not ready for that right now. They will look among themselves and say what can we do about this tragedy? And what can we build as a living legacy for our children? For those diamonds in the sky.

BLITZER: And the immediate -- over these past, almost five or six years, just walk us through the different transitions that you have gone through.

SAMAHA: Well, the transitions can be, again, some people take action, some people take a spiritual road and some people take a political road. In my family, personally, we took both roads, my wife took a spiritual road and I took the political road, what will I do about this tragedy? The important thing these families need to do is continue to hold hands even though they're on parallel and different paths, because someday they are going to look to at each other and say, what can we do together? Not everybody wants to do something about it. Some people will just go home and lock the door and turn out the lights. That is the worst thing that can happen. We need to form a support group to help.

BLITZER: Rima was your youngest.

SAMAHA: Yes, she is.

BLITZER: Remind us a little bit about Rima.

SAMAHA: Rima is just, I mean, I hear it over and over again, I think one of the dads, Robert Walker, speaking about his daughter that was me, five and a half years ago, speaking about my daughter wanting the world to know how lovely she was and how great she was and how beautiful she was. And I cannot but reflect on the others that were killed as well, and their beautiful lives which you will find, Wolf, is a vein that very similar vein that flows through the bodies of all of these children and all of these their families. They're very good people. And they are the loving people and their beautiful children.

BLITZER: Tell us about the foundation you have started to help deal with campus security. Because your daughter, like others, it was the worst school massacre in American history. The Virginia tech massacre, tell us about your foundation and what you're doing.

SAMAHA: I will, it is tough to rank the tragedies.

BLITZER: We're talking about the numbers --

SAMAHA: Exactly. Exactly.

Well, you know, a number of families sat around the tables two months after the tragedy and our tears and grief, and said what can we do about this? Our first thought went to the survivors of the tragedy, what do we do to help them? What do we do to help ourselves our PTSD which will last forever?

And then, the second thing we said is, what would we do as a living legacy for those that were killed? And as a group, overtime, we decided that we would formed this foundation as a support group, and then we -- our program for 32 national campus safety index evolved. We sat around saying what are we going to do as a living legacy, and this index, which will basically grade schools and universities on various criteria among them, the mental health support that they get at universities. Among them sharing of information, very important if you have a problem child in a school and also threat assessment teams.

So there are 32 criteria. And schools will be ranked by those criteria. We could talk about the hardware, which are the locks on the doors and the glasses and how we're going to build these buildings. But we have to talk about the software, how do we take care of these children from elementary school all the way through university? There is a continuing element we need to talk about. That's the software.

BLITZER: Really important information, VTV family outreach foundation, and people should get involved in this. We put it up there, Excellent work that you are doing.

Mr. Samaha, what can I say? I wish the situation were different. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with your viewers, especially right now.

SAMAHA: I appreciate it. Thank you for your time.

BLITZER: Joseph Samaha, his daughter Rima was killed in Virginia Tech University.

Some say army teachers could be the answer, but could that pose other risks? That is next.


BLITZER: The National Rifle Association broke its silence a week after the shootings, proposing putting armed guards at every single school in the United States.

Lisa Sylvester has more on this sensitive issue.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Earl Curtis takes aim with an assault rifle. He is the owner of the blue ridge gun store in Virginia. Curtis says since the Newtown shoot in shootings, gun owners have been getting a bad rap.

EARL CURTIS, BLUE FRIDGE ARSENAL: When the gun ban happened, that really didn't curb crime either. So like I said, whether you cut it down the five, one, still does the same damage, which is bad. OK? What we need to do is teach gun safety and education, also take care of mental health issues.

SYLVESTER: There are new calls in Washington to bring back the assault weapons ban and other gun control measures. That is having an impact here.

One of the things we're seeing is a run on some gun supplies. This rack here used to be filled with magazines like this. But because of concerns of new gun control laws, you can see they're all gone.

Supporters of gun rights say the answer is not making it harder to get a-hold of the weapon, but looking at beefing up school security. Virginia's governor telling WTOP radio arming teachers is one option that should at least be considered.

GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA (voice-over): I know there has been a knee jerk reaction against that. I think there should at least be a discussion of that. If people were armed, not just a police officer but other school officials that were trained, and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would have been an opportunity to stop aggressors coming into the school.

SYLVESTER: Tennessee state senator Frank Nicely wants more officers in the school, including on the elementary school level. And if that is not an option, then he, too, says arm the teachers.

FRANK NICELY, TENNESSEE STATE SENATE: The goal is to have some kind of security in all the schools. And the ones that afford a resource officer that would be the first step. And we would have other options for other volunteers, or trained staff.

SYLVESTER: But talk of putting more guns in schools; that has been roundly criticized. The president of the Brady campaign for gun violence saying it is insane, and will lead to more violent acts.

DAN GROSS, BRADY CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE: Not saying that the only answer that we have to violence is more violence. And that the only answer that we have to guns is more guns. And think about where that vision leads us.

SYLVESTER: And school security expert Greg Crane adding there is a high risk that innocent bystanders could be hurt.

GREG CRANE, RESPONSE OPTIONS: Do you want 15 or 20 people throwing rounds in a very dynamic, very friendly occupied environment? That is a situation that has to be addressed. I don't think it necessary the best situation.

SYLVESTER: I asked Earl Curtis, the owner of the gun store, did he think it was a good idea to arm teachers and principals and he said he did not. He said you really need someone who knows what they're doing and has the training, maybe just police officers. But to just put people in school, you are asking for big trouble.

Lisa Sylvester, CNN. Washington.


BLITZER: An unimaginable week pain and suffering, many of us saw, felt it first hand, we'll reflect when we come back.


BLITZER: It has been an unimaginable week of pain and suffering, not just in Newtown, but all across the country. Many of us saw it firsthand.

Let's talk about what we saw, joining me now our Kate Baldwin. She was in Newtown, as well as our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Both had a chance to see what was going on.

Kate, let me talk with you. Is there a moment that really stands out in your mind, something you will never forget.

KATE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think you and I both, will never forget just the sense in the community when we were there. The sense of grief and despair that was just there everywhere, everywhere you went. Beyond that, the moment that I will never forget is sting sat down with the Licata family, Robert and Diane, their 6-year-old son, Aiden was in Victoria Soto's classroom. Victoria Soto as we now know she was shot and killed by the gunman along with students in that classroom. And when we sat down with Robert and Diane, we talked about many things. But one of the things that really struck me what how they said how difficult it was going to be to break the news to Aiden that their teacher was not coming back.


DIANE LICATA, MOTHER OF STUDENT WITNESS: He keeps talking about her. And I think he is reassuring himself that she is going to be OK. He really, really cared about his teacher. He was very close to her. She loved that class, and he keeps saying, I really hope she is OK. I hope it's not her. He knows that she is hurt, but he does not know the end result. He knows the kids that he saw getting shot, he doesn't know the outcome, so I think he is reassuring himself in his 6-year-old mind, I know he is processing it. But he is telling himself that it will be OK.


BALDWIN: And beyond that, you know, I not only suspend time with Robert and Diane, had a chance to spend some time while they did not their children to be interviewed of course, spends sometime with Aiden as well as his older sister who is also a student as Sandy Hook. And just seeing young Aiden, 6 years old, acting like a 6-year-old, wearing his pajamas, watching cartoons, even showing off his kung fu moves to me that Saturday morning, just 24 hours after that it happened. It just struck me not only that he is just 6 years old, but then to think of the horror that he witnessed and also how incomprehensible it is that there's so many kids his age that are gone now.

BLITZER: It's a shocking situation.

Sanjay, I know you were moved. You were powerfully moved by Robbie Parker, the father who lost his little 6-year-old daughter, Emilie. Parker, we saw him on television Saturday night. Let me play a little clip.


ROBBIE PARKER, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM, EMILIE PARKER: She was the person that could light up a room. She always had something kind to say about anybody. And her love and the strength that she gave us and the example that she showed us is remarkable. She is an incredible person. And I'm so blessed to be her dad.


BLITZER: What a beautiful little girl. Sanjay, I know you have daughters around the same age, and you were -- you were moved really strongly by what we with heard.

GUPTA: Yes, just such a, so, still painful to watch and to hear Robbie just that visceral, juts, you know, gut wrenching pain.

Yes. You know, Wolf, it's tough, anybody who has kids, you know people always ask, do you think about your own kids in situation like this. And of course, you do. But I think there was a couple of things in particular. One is, this whole notion, you know, the way he was describing Emily, you know, cuddly I have used some of the same ways to described m own daughters. And I think there was nothing in their world context that could explain to them what was happening when this tragedy unfolded. I mean I know if it was my daughters they would be curious about this guy and want to say hello. And you know, it is just that --- I think that for some reason that is so particularly heart breaking. And I think also this idea that it's not so much that you are thinking about your own kids when you go to a town like Newtown, Connecticut and you were there, you saw how small the community was and they all know he each other and take care of each other, it's not that you are thinking of your kids, they are your kids. These children here in Newtown, they were everybody's kids, you know. And I think that was, you know, what I still, I've been thinking about quite a bit over the last several days. BLITZER: I was thinking also, Kate, about the make-shift memorials that sprung up all over Newtown, especially the memorials that had little angels on them. When we think of the 20 kids, the 20 angels just walking down the street and we have got pictures there, you know --

BALDWIN: Right there. And so many things leave an impression on us. On everyone from this horrific tragedy. But what other moments really stuck with you?

BLITZER: You know, what else stuck in my mind was when I met some of the clergy who had been at the fire house where all the parents showed up when they heard there was something going on at the school. So, they came to the fire house, police directed them there. That is where they got word that their little kids were OK, they came out. Right down the street. But there were 20 sets of parents that got horrible news. When I spoke with a rabbi Shaul Praver who is a rabbi in Newtown, and he described what it was like when these parents got the horrible news.


BLITZER: It was there a moment yesterday when you were at the fire house with families that stands out that you will never forget?

RABBI SHAUL PRAVER, CONGREGATION ADATH ISRAEL: Yes. There's unshakable images and that was when the news from the governor came that the kids did not make it. And the waling of the parents and the sort of the groping and trying to reach for something intangible, it was horrific. Terrible scene.


BLITZER: Sanjay, you can only imagine when you talks about the waling, the groping, what was going on in the fire house - how are these people going to cope in the years to come?

GUPTA: It's - I mean, you know, losing a child is such an unnatural thing, I mean, you know, you do not expect to bury your own children. So, I don't think that they can fully recover from this. You know, there have been, there has come up in studies, Wolf. We have talked about some of those with regard to how long post traumatic stress, for example lasts. And you know, for example, in people who were exposed to it so closely, even in a months, years later, a significant percentage of people, 77 percent, three months later gas diagnosable post traumatic stress so, this isn't going to go away anytime soon.

There is also something else, Wolf. You know, when we see this after other tragedies but there's a period now where there's a lot of support. There's a lot of media attention, family and friends have all come together, but it doesn't last forever. And so after a while, these people, you know, they are sort of going through this period now a bit numb with all the support, but then, over a few months or few weeks even, it starts to go away a little bit. It's a good reminder of people that want to continue to give support to Newtown. BLITZER: Sanjay, thanks so much for your reporting this week. Kate, thanks to you as well. I know all of us, I don't think that -- any of us will be the same after what we experienced and certainly the people in Newtown, Connecticut will never be the same either.

We will wrap thing up when we come back with a popular TV show that paid special tribute to the Newtown victims. This is very moving and I think you will want to see this.


BLITZER: We will leave you with a powerful musical tribute to the Newtown victims on the NBC show, "the Voice."