Parents of British boy killed in massacre tell of their grief

Memorial service for  Dylan Hockley at the  City Hospital Chapel. Dylan  died in the Connecticut shootings in the US
Memorial service for Dylan Hockley at the City Hospital Chapel. Dylan died in the Connecticut shootings in the US
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The parents of the British boy killed in the Connecticut school massacre have described their grief.

Ian Hockley and his wife Nicole say they will continue living in the small town of Newtown, despite the anguish of losing six-year-old Dylan.

The family had moved to the US two years ago from Hampshire. Mr Hockley works for IBM, which has its UK headquarters in Portsmouth.

Speaking to the BBC News, Dylan’s mother told how she could not stop shaking when police told the couple their son was one of 20 children and six staff shot in the Sandy Point school massacre.

Mr Hockley said: “I was at work and an email came through the school messenger system saying the school was in lockdown.

“Then the local media reporting said ‘shooting at the school’ - that was quite a shock. And as we were driving over, I happened to pick up on social media, not just one person shot but 26 people dead.”

Mrs Hockley described looking for Dylan: “After a while, as the kids were all leaving with their parents, you just start wandering around thinking ‘Where’s mine?’.”

“The police confirmed that 20 children had been shot and the room erupted. And I remember I started shaking - and I just couldn’t stop for the life of me,” said Mrs Hockley.

“But everyone’s thinking, which kids? It’s not mine - there’s more than 20 people in this room, there’s got to be more than 20 families, it’s not mine.

“It was around three o’clock that they came in to give their status report, and it had to be announced at that point that everybody that was left in the school was dead.

“And that’s really when everybody in the room realised that whoever they were missing - whether it was one of the adults or one of the children - that they were gone.”

Dylan’s body was later found being held by his classroom assistant, Anne Marie Murphy, who also died.

“Dylan was wrapped in Mrs Murphy’s arms,” said Mrs Hockley. “She was protecting several children, but Dylan was the one that was actually in her arms. And that helps a little bit.”

Mrs Hockley said the couple needed to be strong for their other son, Jake.

“You also have to devote a significant amount of time to your child that’s still alive, and maintain a sense of a new normality - for his sake - to help him get through this. And that helps us get through it as well.”

This week, the couple joined other families to mark one month since the massacre by lone gunman, Adam Lanza, who killedhimself at the scene.

“Newtown is a wonderful place, and this single event isn’t going to undermine that,” said Mrs Hockley.

President Obama will today unveil controversial new gun control plans - after two further shootings at colleges.

The president is urging a reluctant Congress to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines like those used in the massacre of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut, last month.

The package follows New York politicians passing the toughest gun control laws in the country yesterday.

But it comes after two people were killed and three injured in shootings.

In Hazard, Kentucky, two people were killed and a teenage wounded in the car park of a community college.

The injured youth was being treated in hospital and police officers searched the premises to ensure no one else was at risk.

The incident happened hours after a gunman walked into a business school in St Louis, Missouri and shot an administrator in the chest.

He then shot himself, and police said both men were in surgery, but were unable to say if their wounds were life-threatening.

Police officers found students hiding under desks at the business school.

Mr Obama’s programme is expected to include more than a dozen measures the president can take on his own.

But Congress must approve the bans on assault weapons and ammunition magazines holding more than 10 bullets, along with a requirement for universal background checks on gun buyers.

Some gun control advocates worry that opposition from Republicans and conservative Democrats, as well as the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), will be too great to overcome.

For many Americans, gun ownership is a cherished right protected by the US Constitution.

Others argue that the country’s founders in the 18th century could never have envisioned the sort of high-powered assault weapons used in the Newtown attack.

White House officials, seeking to avoid setting the president up for failure, have emphasised that no single measure - even an assault weapons ban - would solve the scourge of gun violence across the country.

But without such a ban, or other sweeping Congress-approved measures, it is unclear whether presidential actions alone can make any noticeable difference.

“It is a simple fact that there are limits to what can be done within existing law,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said yesterday.

“Congress has to act on the kinds of measures we’ve already mentioned because the power to do that is reserved by Congress.”

Mr Obama will announce his proposals at the White House, flanked by children who wrote to him about gun violence following the massacre of 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

He has pledged urgent action to prevent future mass shootings, and his plan is based on recommendations from vice president Joe Biden, who led a task force on gun violence.

Mr Biden also provided suggestions for improving mental health care and addressing violent images in video games, films and on television.

States and cities have been moving against gun violence as well, led by New York, which yesterday approved a law calling for a tougher assault weapons ban and provisions to try to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill who make threats.

Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo said: “You can overpower the extremists with intelligence and with reason and with common sense.”

But the NRA said: “These gun control schemes have failed in the past and will have no impact on public safety and crime.”