Noah Pozner was reluctant to go to school that day. A mischievous little boy, who had celebrated his sixth birthday three weeks earlier, he stayed in bed too long and dragged his feet getting ready. “I said to him: ‘Come on, Noah, we gotta get moving,” his father, Leonard (also known as Lenny) recalls, having thought about the morning of 14 December 2012 so often he can almost talk about it mechanically. But the drive was fun: Noah, his twin sister, Arielle, and older sister, Sophia, listened to Gangnam Style, one of Noah’s favourite songs. Noah always sat in the back seat and Leonard tickled his ankle as he drove along. At school, Noah jumped out, his backpack in one hand, his jacket in the other. He was wearing a Batman shirt and Spider-Man trainers. “I said: ‘I love you, have a great day,’ and that was the last thing I ever said to him,” says Pozner. After all, he adds, “Not even Batman could have stopped an AR-15.”
Noah was the youngest victim of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, murdered about half an hour after his father dropped him off. A sweet-faced, big-eyed, brown-haired boy, his tiny body took multiple bullets. His jaw was blown off, as was his left hand, and his beloved Batman shirt was soaked with blood. For his funeral, his mother, Veronique, insisted he have an open casket.
“I want the world to see what they did to my baby,” she said at the time.
Today, Pozner tries to look on the bright side. “I could have lost three kids that day because the other two were in rooms adjacent to Noah’s classroom. They were all in the shooter’s footprint.”
Even in a country all too used to mass shootings, the merciless killing in Newtown, Connecticut of 20 six- and seven-year-olds, along with six of the school’s employees, retains a terrible hold on the US’s imagination, gripping the memory after too many other shootings have faded away. For most, it is too horrible to mention without a shudder. But for a tenacious few, it is too horrible to believe, and soon after Noah was killed, when Pozner thought he had already seen the worst of humanity, he came into contact with the latter group.
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