BUFFALO, N.Y. -- "It’s more of a paralyzing feeling,” said Newtown native C.J. Maurer. “I think you don’t know what to do. Something like this, it kind of knocks you back on your heels a little bit more."
Maurer was sitting in a coffee shop Friday when he received an alert on his cell phone about the mass shooting in his hometown.
He now calls Buffalo home, but his father still lives in Newtown just two miles from the crime scene.
"He doesn’t lock his house at night,” said Maurer. “It’s just the type of comfort that people have with you know by living there."
Maurer says that sense of security was shaken when 20 children and six adults were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Maurer attended Sandy Hook, and says the typical New England town of 27 thousand people is tight knit.
With the list of victims names released Saturday, he says it’s likely that many in the town will have a personal connection.
"They'll know at least one person or a family of one person that was unfortunately involved as a victim. I mean, it's a small town," said Maurer.
Friends from home have told Maurer that it’s unsettling to deal with all the attention the once quaint town has been receiving.
"The somewhat uncomfortable realization that the whole world has its eyes on this little town that nobody ever heard of before is still a difficult thing to comprehend yet,” he said. "I don’t think the community wishes to let something like this define it."
While Maurer does not know the family of the suspected shooter, he says it doesn't change the harsh reality of the situation.
"It’s very hard for anybody, if not impossible, to comprehend what could have gone through this kid’s mind to do that,” said Maurer. “And because we can't comprehend it, we don’t know how to fix it."
It will be a somber feeling Maurer says as he heads back home for the holidays next weekend.
He says he would like to organize some kind of relief or fundraising effort for the families of victims, but says no amount of help can bring back the lives of the people involved.