, Salem, MA

December 15, 2012

'It could happen anywhere'

By Neil H. Dempsey
Staff Writer

---- — BEVERLY — Glenna Terwilliger watched as her son Barrett, 5, played on the grass of Beverly Common last night, his light-up shoes blinking in the dark just beyond the candlelight vigil for the school shooting victims in Newtown, Conn.

“What can you do? You can’t do anything,” Terwilliger said. “It could happen anywhere ... it’s hard to put into words.”

Yesterday morning, a gunman opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life.

Hours later, Terwilliger echoed the feelings of helplessness and grief common among the roughly two dozen people who gathered for the vigil at 6:30 p.m., among them about five young children. The event was organized by Norrie Gall and Julia Campbell, two Beverly residents who said they had 3-year-old daughters at home.

“I think we both had a very visceral reaction as parents,” said Gall.

“There’s nothing else that we could do,” said Campbell.

Gall said she was impressed with how many showed up to the event, which was advertised through Facebook. Campbell said the vigil wasn’t about making a statement on politics or issues, but creating a space where people could come together and mourn.

“It’s just a statement that we’re all devastated and we don’t know what else to do,” she said.

Charles Hanchette, who attended with his girlfriend Alison Avezzie, said he had no children of his own but that he was praying and thinking of young relatives. He noted that while tragedies were “the worst way to bring people together,” uniting for a vigil was something “you just do.”

“I don’t know any of these people, but we’re all here together,” Hanchette said.

As for 5-year-old Barrett, his mother Glenna said she hadn’t spoken to him about the shooting and had only told him they were attending an event for “special children.”

“He’s too young,” she said.