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West Essex Grandparents Attended Sandy Hook Holiday Show Night Before Shooting

Roseland family directly impacted by shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Dennis and Conni Murray, longtime residents of Roseland, learned about Friday’s massacre in Newtown, Conn. the same way most Americans did—on the news.

Only the Murrays were one of several hundred people who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School’s fourth grade holiday show Thursday, the night before alleged gunman Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 children and six adults at the school as well as his own.

The Murrays had traveled to Newtown to see their grandson, 10-year-old Brendan, perform at a local high school. 

“We met the principal who was killed,” Conni Murray said, “and the vice principal who was shot.”

Dennis Murray learned about the unfolding tragedy around 9:45 a.m. Friday when he received a CNN alert on his cell phone about a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It was more than an hour before they learned from their only son Sean, a 1989  graduate of West Essex High School, that their only grandson was alive. 

“It was awful,” Conni Murray said. “I couldn’t stop crying.”

Brendan, she said, was one of the students in the gymnasium who was told to hide in a closet. She said her fears weren't calmed until she finally heard the boy's voice around 12:30 p.m. She later saw her son and grandson on television as they were interviewed by ABC Channel 7 news

The kindergarten through fourth grade school has an enrollment of close to 600 students, according to Dennis, who said his grandson’s classroom is part of a mobile attachment due to the high enrollment.

The Murrays are familiar with the school after caring for their grandson in September while his mother, Anne, received treatment for an inoperable brain tumor. 

The Murrays will see their grandson during Christmas when they plan to host 20 adults and 10 children in their small Cape Cod home in Roseland. The larger than usual celebration is a special get-together in honor of the boy's sick mother.

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