He added, “There are many people who have mental issues. Do we start looking at that differently, and do we start looking differently at laws where we force people to take medications or be in treatment facilities?”
“It’s one of the worst events I have ever seen in this country,” said County Legislator Norma Gonsalves, who also lives in East Meadow. “When you touch the lives of 5- and 6-year-olds, it is devastating.”
Gonsalves, the presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, said she plans to petition the state and federal governments “to put the resources there so we can give our young people who have mental health problems the kind of care that they should have.”
Before she became a legislator, Gonsalves taught for 26 years. During that time, she said, she experienced situations in which at-risk children were neglected, and not given the proper help they needed. “We can’t do that anymore,” she said. “We need the financial wherewithal so our schools can easily identify them and give them the help that they need.”
Donna La Scala, a member of the East Meadow Parent-Teacher Association Council, said, “I was horrified beyond words. Your heart just breaks when you hear about something like this. This just kind of sets you back on your heels to think that there’s really nowhere I can send my kids where I can have that feeling of safety anymore.”
La Scala recalled an incident when her daughter, Alexandra, was a junior at the University of Buffalo. The school had a system that sent text and email alerts to students and staff in emergencies. La Scala, who also subscribed to the system, got an email one day that said the university was on lockdown because there was a suspected gunman in the library. “To try to explain to you the feeling of panic, I couldn’t even put it into words,” she said.
It took her about 10 minutes to get her daughter on the phone, who told her that she had received the same alert while she was driving toward campus, and immediately turned around and went home.