Local residents and officials in Randolph County expressed their shock Friday about the shooting of 20 small children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn.
Elkins resident Wesley Taylor expressed the feeling of increased vulnerability that permeated local reaction to the shooter's decision to open fire on children, most of whom were younger than 10.
"It's a tragedy for the town," Taylor said. "It's terrible to think that you can't send your kids to school."
"I think it's just sickening," said Berneda Rutherford, also of Elkins.
Randolph County Commissioner Mike Taylor said he and a group of friends were trying to digest Friday's morning's events that afternoon.
"Any time you have the loss of life, it's a tragedy," Taylor said. "But what's particularly chilling here is the age of the victims.
"You know, those of us that have children and grandchildren, it really brings it home. I'm with a group of friends right now and we've been talking about that," Taylor said. "As someone who is a grandfather of two beautiful grandchildren, you realize (such violence) doesn't discriminate. It could happen anywhere, and there's definitely a feeling that we're more vulnerable today."
Elkins Mayor Duke Talbott said he was "stunned" when he learned the news of the tragedy in Newton.
"I am saddened by this," he said. "It is a tragedy that is almost beyond belief."
Talbott said the first thing he did when he heard the news was to say a prayer for the families affected by the shooting.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to them," Talbott said.
Staff writers Anthony Gaynor and Casey Houser contributed to this report.