HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Since his 6-year-old daughter was killed in the Connecticut school shooting, Robbie Parker has been encouraging people to try to find peace in tragedy.
He told reporters gathered outside a church the day after last December’s massacre that he was not mad, and he felt sympathy for the family of the gunman. He has since spoken to a handful of groups, delivering talks that he says have allowed him to process his own grief while helping others.
Next weekend, he will deliver an address at a Wisconsin event marking the anniversary of the Aug. 5 attack on a Sikh temple, where a white supremacist gunned down six worshippers.
“You can find ways to rise above the bad,” Parker said.
Parker was invited to speak in Wisconsin by Pardeep Kaleka, whose father was killed in the Oak Creek temple shooting. Kaleka said the two shootings are linked by issues including the suffering and isolation of the gunmen, who in turn unleashed their own pain on others.
“Our grief is unimaginable, but me personally, I lost my dad who was 65 years old and lived a full life,” he said. “When you lose a child, the way it happened, and you can make something good out of it, I think that’s powerful.”
Parker is to speak Aug. 3 before a run honoring the six people killed by the gunman, Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old Army veteran. Page also wounded a police officer before killing himself. He had ties to white supremacist groups, but the FBI concluded following an investigation that his motives may never be known.
Parker’s daughter, Emilie, was among 26 people, including 20 first-graders, killed by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14. Authorities have not disclosed a possible motive for the rampage.
When Parker spoke to the media Dec. 15, he said he mainly wanted to make sure if anything was reported about his daughter, that it came from her family. He said he is choosing to live by the remarks he made that night when he called for the shooting not to define the community, but to make people more compassionate.
“When I prepared those thoughts, that was just Emilie’s influence on me,” he said. “Those were the things she taught me and brought into my life.”
As much as he encourages others to find peace, he said he still struggles himself.
“When you’re having a good day, or part of your day is good, you start to think, `I might be able to get through this,'” he said. “Then when you have a bad day, you think there’s never going to be a time when you move past this.”
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