Attorney Joel T. Faxon lives in Newtown and serves on its five-member police commission.
On the morning of Dec. 14, he was taking one of his three children to middle school. Approaching the front doors, he got a text message that all the town's schools were on lockdown a precaution that occurs from time to time due to the proximity of a state prison.
"I told my son, 'Okay, something's going on. Let's get out of here,'" said Faxon, of the personal injury firm Stratton Faxon in New Haven.
Back in his own car, Faxon said he saw "the chief of police in his official car, headed to the Sandy Hook school, and I looked at my son and I said, 'Oh my God, there must have been a shooting.' The chief doesn't respond to anything other than a very serious incident.
"Within a minute of that time, I got a news report text from the Hartford Courant, that said police were responding to incident on Dickenson Drive, and I thought, 'There's only one thing on that street. And that's the school.'"
Faxon pulled over. "At that point, literally 50 state police and Newtown police cars went by us, and they all went to Sandy Hook Elementary School. I knew there had been some kind of a catastrophe there."
Not wanting to interrupt the first responders on the scene, Faxon exchanged texts with another police commission member, James Viadero, who works as a Bridgeport police captain. "He was filling me in on what was happening, in real time."
While news was leaking out slowly TV news outlets initially reported only a single death Faxon said the numbers the Bridgeport officer was reporting "were just shocking." The final death toll at the school included 20 pupils, six adults and the shooter.
For the next minutes and hours, Faxon focused on his role as a husband and father. "I had my son with me. My other son goes to another elementary school. Thankfully, he was with my wife, going to the doctor's office for a checkup. My daughter, who is in the high school was in lockdown, and she was texting me, 'Daddy, what's going on?' I knew she was safe."
The saddest thing to watch was ambulance after ambulance heading to the scene of the mass shooting. "There were ambulances going down there [to the school], but there were no ambulances coming back to go to the hospital" with survivors, Faxon said. "Just like in 9/11, when the hospitals were all racing to be prepared for the wounded, who never arrived."