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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — For many people, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School eight months ago was felt through televised reports, but Newtown Police Chief Mike Kehoe saw the devastation firsthand. He spoke about his experience today during a law enforcement training conference in Wilmington.

Gut-wrenching images that captured a nation. A SWAT team going into an elementary school where bloodshed was rampant. Armed with three guns, 20-year-old Adam Lanza showed no mercy.

We saw the faces of those killed, 20 children ages six and seven and six adults. December 14, 2012, is a day that will forever be burned into Kehoe’s mind.

“It was a great sense of sadness that it could happen to such a strong, dynamic community that Newtown is,” Kehoe said.

The mass shooting at Sandy Hook lit a firestorm of debate over school safety and gun control. Meanwhile, some questioned if a school resource officer had been there that day, would it have changed anything. Kehoe says it’s a challenge to put an officer in every school.

“It goes a long way to safeguard our schools. There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “But we also recognize there’s a limited amount of resources available.”

Since that fateful day, Kehoe says it’s taken great resilience from police and the community in Newtown to move forward.

He’s hopeful his experience will help others like Wilmington Police to be prepared if such an event were to happen here.

“I think we can all learn from this, and if this were to happen again, and we hope it doesn’t, that we’ll be able to respond more efficiently and better,” Kehoe said.

Kehoe will return to Newtown later this week with a gift from Wilmington artist Rachard McIntyre. He presented Kehoe with a drawing of the faces of the 20 children killed in the school shooting.

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