I was first to see the Sandy Hook carnage: British clergyman describes agony of comforting parents as they asked: 'Where's my child'Rev Clive Calver went straight to the school after hearing of the shootingHe was with parents as they heard that their children were among the deadHe also held the funeral of only British victim six-year-old Dylan Hockley
11:31 GMT, 24 December 2012
A British clergyman has described how he was among the first on the scene of the Sandy Hook school shooting – and was with the families when they heard the news their children had died.
Rev Clive Calver, who was born in London but now leads the Walnut Hill Community Church, in Conneticut, took the funeral of Dylan Hockley, the six-year-old British boy who was killed when crazed gunman Adam Lanza went on a rampage which left 20 children and six teachers dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School,
Dylan, who suffered from autism, died cradled in the arms of his devoted special needs teacher Anne Marie Murphy who was also killed.
Rev Clive Calver, left, was among the first on the scene and held the funeral of British victim six-year-old Dylan Hockley, right
Dylan's funeral was held at the Walnut Hill Community Church on Friday
His father Ian Hockley, 42, moved his family from Eastleigh, Hampshire, to Newtown, Connecticut, two years ago in the belief that America would give his boys – Dylan and big brother Jake, eight – a better start in life.
The priest described how he arrived at the church on the Friday morning when one of his staff was stood outside saying 'There's been a shooting'.
Rev Calver said: 'We knew that it was his son's school. So we jumped in a car, praying our way through the 12-minute drive. The call came through that his son was alive.'
He was the first clergyman on the scene where hundreds of confused children and worried parents were milling around.
He said he had to put his experience as president of disaster response charity World Relief to use to help bring order to the situation.
He said: 'I never dreamed I would have to do this in sleepy Newtown.'
A couple embraces while looking at a memorial for those killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut yesterday
He put his church's 22 pastors to work, helping out at the school, in the hospital and town hall, he said.
One of the pastors, Crag Mowrey, who joined Rev Calver at the scene, recalled: 'One by one, children were being found by their parents. It was total chaos.
'And then you started to get parents asking, “Where's my child Nobody dreamed they were dead.”
Meanwhile a woman lights candles at yesterday's memorial for those killed
'Five hours after the shooting, shaking with fear, we approached the first set of state troopers and they let us in to the fire house where parents were waiting.
'The tension was incredible. Most of them hadn't been watching the news. They were clearly hoping upon hope that their child or family member was one of the ones being treated at the hospital.
'We had an opportunity to pray for folks and minister to them. There was very much the unknown in that moment.'
Adam Lanza shot dead his mother and then went on a gun rampage at the Connecticut school leaving 26 dead
He and Rev Calver were with the families when Conneticut governor Dannel Malloy broke the news that their children were among the dead.
Mr Mowrey said: 'In that moment, all of them knew that those they were waiting for – they were never going to see them again. There was terror and shock and anger.
'Some just sat completely comatose. It was a terrible situation. People also found out that they weren't going to be able to recover their children's bodies as it was a crime scene.
'We helped to usher people out of that room, and most of them did the only thing they could do – go home.'
Rev Calver has continued to give support and counselling to families in Newtown, where he lives, following America's worst school massacre on the morning of December 14
He said the church has opened a fund to help provide long-term counselling services for local residents in Newtown.
He said: 'We know this is not going to be over tomorrow. The world will have forgotten this in a month or two.
'But we will still be living with it. When you say 'Dunblane', you don't think of Andy Murray, you think of the tragedy that happened there.
'There is a shadow of grief that has been cast over this town. But I believe that God is sovereign, that he will serve his purposes in this thing.'