It's been five years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, when gunman Adam Lanza fatally shot and killed 20 students and six faculty members within five minutes.
As the nation continues to grieve and the debate over stricter gun control remains contentious, former chief White House photographer Pete Souza released a never-before-seen photograph of former President Barack Obama in a despondent state inside the Oval Office.
@PeteSouza Here is the photo taken by @PeteSouza after @BarackObama received news of the Sandy Hook shooting https://t.co/TWtGbQDrAy— Business Insider (@Business Insider)1513258854.0
In Souza's new book, Obama: An Intimate Portrait, the photographer said that December 14, 2012, was the "worst day" of Obama's presidency.
Souza told People, “[The shooting] affected me in a profound way that no other situation in the eight years did. I can feel my eyes tearing up now just talking to you about it,” adding, “It certainly affected [President Obama] … He cried on stage one time reliving that because I think he was reacting not just as a president, but as a parent.”
"It was about a month since he had been reelected to a second term, so there was that sort of afterglow that was still being felt, I think, throughout the White House," an emotional Souza told Business Insider.
It was also Christmastime at the White House, so there were these decorations, and Christmas trees, a very festive time of year. And word began to come out that there had been the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Homeland Security Advisor, John Brennan, delivered the devastating news to the president.
In the picture, you see just kind of the energy just zap out of the president. I think he was thinking of this not only as a president, but imagining what it must be like as a parent. The horror of sending your six-year-old kid off to school, you put him on the school bus and you never see them again because some crazy guy shot them to death, point-blank, at their school.
So I think it was a very ... he was very emotional and just thinking about this as a fellow parent, almost more so than as a president.
5 years ago today was my worst day at the White House. I saw my normally stoic boss break down. I lost my composure… https://t.co/P3yUjlLeNj— Jay Carney (@Jay Carney)1513266996.0
The former chief photographer also revealed that moments later, Obama struggled to maintain his composure and cried while issuing a statement on the tragedy.
@businessinsider @PeteSouza @BarackObama Man I miss this guy. What a great leader .... You just knew in your hear… https://t.co/KUydZKRocV— Stable Genius ... ™☜═㋡ (@Stable Genius ... ™☜═㋡)1513278746.0
@businessinsider @devdam1 @PeteSouza @BarackObama 😫 I miss President Obama so much— Susanna Garvin (@Susanna Garvin)1513284346.0
Five years later, there is no progress on gun restrictions.
@businessinsider @PeteSouza @BarackObama #EvilTrump signs bill revoking Obama-era gun checks for mental illness.… https://t.co/IjomvdxwEh— Brenda Johnson (@Brenda Johnson)1513272622.0
After the Sandy Hook shooting, gun sales spiked — and so did accidental gun deaths https://t.co/RMtGpAgg2Z https://t.co/s7dOWOOPPd— Business Insider (@Business Insider)1512688479.0
Second Amendment advocates insist that possessing firearms save more lives.
Will America ever feel safe again?
Sandy Hook was 5 years ago. This was 4 years ago — sadly, too little has changed since https://t.co/SgJ4JxGHkv— Brett LoGiurato (@Brett LoGiurato)1513260094.0
@BrettLoGiurato unfortunately, I feel like the change has gone in the wrong direction as well. so sad, and honestly… https://t.co/UDg8hS8VFL— Cαм ⚡️ (@Cαм ⚡️)1513266493.0
David Wheeler, who lost his 6-year-old son Bejamin, still grapples with the event that claimed his son's life. He told the NY Times, "One of the things an event like this does — it doesn’t change you, it simply heightens who you already are. There are beautiful, meaningful, thoughtful and very kind gestures at every turn, from people you know well and people you don’t know at all.”
Abbey Clements, who was a second grade teacher at Sandy Hook, said, "We work really hard to be resilient and strong. And I think it’s O.K. to recognize that we’re still grieving, and that we should never forget. We don’t want to forget.”
Though the pain is palpable after five years since the shooting, Newtown strives to stay strong. Small miracles like charity organizations started by the parents of the Sandy Hook victims keep the community tight, and residents keep their eyes towards the hope of a brighter future.
"Newtown isn’t the same. I’m not the same. And I doubt you’re the same. But five years later, we keep going. And we… https://t.co/oxkknDyGMx— Amanda McKelvey (@Amanda McKelvey)1513271777.0
The new Sandy Hook Elementary School hides high security in beautiful design https://t.co/64jpalmje2 https://t.co/kgvEKdC3Np— Business Insider (@Business Insider)1513265906.0
Today, we see one of the reasons why Obama is missed.
President Obama with the siblings of some of the children killed at Sandy Hook five years ago today. May their si… https://t.co/gaub8Awdn6— ObamaPlusKids (@ObamaPlusKids)1513277371.0
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