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Newtown asks for privacy as Sandy Hook anniversary nears

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Connecticut town of Newtown on Monday asked for privacy and a restrained media presence ahead of the anniversary of the shooting that killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Newtown displeasure
A sign expressing displeasure with the media is tacked on a pole in Newtown, Connecticut December 4, 2013.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Connecticut town of Newtown on Monday asked for privacy and a restrained media presence ahead of the anniversary of the shooting that killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"We can't choose to not have this horrible thing happen to us. It happened. We cannot make it un-happen," First Selectman Pat Llodra, joined by other city officials, told a news conference. "But we can choose how we react to it."

"Please respect our need to be alone and to be quiet and to have that personal time to continue on our journey of grief in the way that serves us," she said.

Last December 14, a 20-year-old Newtown resident went on a rampage at the elementary school, shooting dead the children and adults before turning a gun on himself. It was one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

The rampage shocked the nation and led President Barack Obama to propose a series of new gun-control measures, including an expansion of federal background-check laws. Those efforts were blocked in the U.S. Senate after some lawmakers argued the changes would be onerous to law-abiding gun owners.

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In a report released last month, state investigators said the gunman, Adam Lanza, acted alone, using guns legally purchased by his mother, whom he shot dead before driving to the school. His motive and reason for targeting Sandy Hook, a school he once attended, remain a mystery, the report said.

Many of those directly affected by the shooting, including parents of the children killed that day, have said they plan to be out of town this week. The groups that have used Newtown as a rallying call in advocating for changes in public policy have also vowed to stay out of Newtown on the anniversary.

On Monday, Llodra told television reporters the media's presence could add to the difficulties of those struggling to deal with overwhelming emotion. She said she hoped to fulfill the media's request for access while requesting they stay away this week.

"We're trying to respect the world's interest in us, and we certainly have benefited from that interest in many ways," she said. "We pay a price when the media is here."

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