The parents of a boy killed in the Sandy Hook massacre revealed on Monday that they are selling their home because they cannot bear to see the neighboring house of the man who shot dead their son.
Dylan Hockley, six, was one of 20 children and six teaching staff who lost their lives when a gunman opened fire on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut a little over a month ago.
His parents Ian and Nicole Hockley, who moved to the U.S. from Hampshire, England two years ago, opened up about the joy that Dylan, who had autism, had brought to their lives.
The couple spoke as they attended a gathering with other families to mark the one-month anniversary of the tragedy on Monday.
Mrs Hockley told CNN: ‘He was autistic but incredibly empathetic. He just wanted to have fun.’
Her husband Ian said that his son was a happy child who would run to greet him every time he came home from work, shouting ‘Daddy!’
He added that his little boy would love to play on the trampoline in their backyard and would insist that his father join him.
As the Hockleys try to come to terms with the devastating loss of their son, they have decided to move house as driving past the home of gunman Adam Lanza is more than they can cope with each day.
Mrs Hockley said: ‘You can’t drive up your driveway every day and see the house of a person who took your son’s life and who brought so much pain to so many people.’
The couple plan to remain in Newtown where they moved with their two sons, Dylan and eight-year-old Jake, from the UK two years ago.
Dylan’s older brother Jake is also struggling to come to terms with the loss of his sibling and the many questions he has as to why this happened.
One of the ways that the Hockley family is coping is by fundraising in Dylan’s name for programs that support children with autism and special needs.
Although the family have shielded themselves from much of what happened on December 14 at Sandy Hook, they have been brought comfort by the bravery of one of Dylan’s teachers.
Special education teacher Anne Marie Murphy, 52, died trying to shield her students from bullets and was found still cradling Dylan, whom she had tried to protect. The Hockleys previously paid tribute to the loving teacher.
‘We take great comfort in knowing that Dylan was not alone when he died, but was wrapped in the arms of his amazing aide, Anne Marie Murphy,’ they said.
‘Dylan loved Mrs. Murphy so much and pointed at her picture on our refrigerator every day.’
The Hockleys joined other families and neighbors of children killed at Sandy Hook on Monday to launch an initiative to help curb gun violence in America.
One month after the shootings, the group, called Sandy Hook Promise, vowed at a press conference to transform public outrage into action to ‘make our communities and our nation a safer, better place’.
Several of the parents of children slain in the attack appeared on stage with the organizers, some making their first public appearances since the shooting, all holding photographs of their son or daughter.
Mrs Hockley told the group: ‘There is no quick-fix single action but instead a multitude of interlinked actions that are needed.’
The Newtown group offered no specific solution or policy position, but co-founder Thomas Bittman said its aim is to drive a national conversation on three issues: gun ownership and regulation, mental health, and school and public safety.
‘Some of us who came together to start Sandy Hook Promise are gun owners,’ Bittman said.
‘We hunt. We target shoot. We protect our homes. We’re collectors. We teach our sons and daughters how to use guns safely.
‘We’re not afraid of a national conversation within our community and in Congress about responsibility and accountability.’