Teacher Killed In Newtown Shooting Was Katonah Native

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Parishioners exit St. Mary of the Assumption Church after a Sunday Mass in Katonah. One of the teachers killed in Friday's shooting at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school was a Katonah native and her parents are parishioners at the church. Photo Credit: Liz Button
Sandy Hook Elementary teacher Anne Marie Murphy was a Katonah native. Photo Credit: Courtesy Facebook group,

KATONAH, N.Y. — One of the school employees killed in Friday’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a Katonah native.

Anne Marie Murphy, a 52-year-old mother of four, taught special education at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Newsday reported Saturday.

On Friday morning, Sandy Hook was the scene of a devastating mass shooting that killed 26 at the school including 20 children ages 6 and 7-year-old. Police identified the shooter as 20-year-old Adam Lanza.

Lanza killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Newtown home before driving to the school and forcing his way in, then carried out his bloody rampage before finally shooting himself, according to reports.

Murphy’s parents, Dr. Hugh and Alice McGowan, are parishioners at St. Mary of the Assumption, a Catholic church in Katonah, which held a vigil for Murphy Saturday night. 

At Sunday Mass at the Katonah church, Rev. Michael Brisson said parishioners found out about the loss of one of their own when Hugh McGowan addressed the congregation Saturday. According to Brisson, McGowan got up and said, "I'd like to invite you all to pray the Hail Mary with me. My daughter was shot yesterday."

Newsday reported Saturday that police told the McGowans that Murphy's body was found shielding the bodies of students. The McGowans said they plan to bring their daughter's body back home to Katonah for her funeral.

People throughout the community are paying tribute to the victims in Newtown, including Murphy. After reading on Moveon.org about an initiative to organize candlelight vigils, Bedford resident Bea Rhodes, along with Bruce Yablon, Michael Minard and Len Martello, held a candlelight vigil Saturday evening across from the Katonah Public Library.

Rhodes was sad to find that one of the town’s well-known families lost their daughter in the tragedy at Sandy Hook. “The McGowans have been here forever,” Rhodes said Sunday. “So many know them.”

Doris Avino, a parishioner at St. Mary, said Sunday that she did not know Anne Marie Murphy but knew Murphy’s father Hugh McGowan from church.

"I'm sorry that happened," she said. "Horrible. That's just horrible. That man was a monster," she said of the shooter.

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Anne Marie will be remembered as a light to the exceptional children she served and protected. She has brought a holy kindness in this world and we are all hurting that she was taken from it, leaving a gaping hole.

May the Omnipresent console her family, colleagues and friends.
Her family has asked that her holy work be continued for her, and donations in her memory be made out to Autism Speaks. Her memory will always be for a blessing.

I am very very sorry for her loss.

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