Oregonians react in shock, grief; vigils planned

Flags to half-staff; candlelight vigils in Bend, Redmond

Shock, sorrow and condemnation extended from Massachusetts to Oregon and across the nation in the wake of Friday's horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

A candlelight vigil was planned from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at Redmond's Centennial Park.

Another is planned Saturday evening at Bend's Drake Park. Here's a statement from the organizers:

"A deeply disturbed man entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut Friday and opened fire taking the lives of 27 people - 18 of them children.

"As a nation, we have endured far too much pain; profound loss of life and more questions than answers about where we are headed as a society and as human beings. Such senseless loss of life as this often permeates the thickest skin and most hardened of hearts. However, when the numbers of those lost include 18 small innocent children; no one with a pulse is left unshaken.

"Bend is one of those places where "community" is among the strongest of virtues. That is what makes this home. On Saturday night December 15th, in Drake Park, a candle light vigil will be held to remember those lost.  Please gather near the pavilion at 6pm and join in a moment of silence and prayer for the children robbed of a full life and the staff

"Bend Parks and Recreation District has offered the full support of the organization and only asks that candles not be used inside the pavilion due to the risk of fire."

 Like many Americans, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., turned to social media to share his thoughts.

"This shooting is a tragedy beyond words and becoming all too common," Wyden tweeted. "My family's condolences go out to all of the families of the victims."

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., was in Hermiston Friday and condemned the tragic attack in Newtown, Conn. He issued the following statement:

"Mylene and I were horrified to learn of this senseless tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the children, teachers, and families. Our entire nation mourns this senseless loss.  As parents, we know that there are no words to adequately express our sorrow at today's horrific events."

Gov. John Kitzhaber ordered all flags at public institutions statewide to immediately be lowered and flown at half-staff until sunset next Tuesday.

"There aren't enough words to express my sorrow for the people of Newtown, Connecticut, or my anger that someone would deliberately hurt children," Kitzhaber said.

"Oregonians have had to come together over tragedy this week, and we come together now to send our profound condolences to the families and victims of Newtown," he added. " I support the president's call for meaningful action, regardless of politics,"

Rob Saxton, Oregon's deputy superintendent of public instruction, issued the following comments on the Connecticut elementary shooting:

"I know I speak for many when I say I am deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible tragedy. It is hard to think about harm coming to any child, let alone the magnitude of what we saw today. As a father, an educator, and a citizen, I grieve for those we lost and for their families, classmates, and teachers. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by this horrible event.

"Tragedies like this make us all understandably concerned about the safety of our own schools and our own students. Nothing is more important than the safety of our students while they are in our care, and I know the teachers and administrators in our schools take this responsibility incredibly seriously. I have been in contact with our schools this morning to ensure we are all doing a thorough review of our safety procedures and precautions to make sure we are doing everything humanly possible to keep our kids safe.

"To the students, teachers, and families of Sandy Hook Elementary – we send our deepest sympathies during this terrible time."

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