Capital twins tell of pupil massacre in US hometown

Helen Malyszka
Helen Malyszka
Share this article
Have your say

Twin sisters from the Capital employed as teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, have spoken of their shock at the massacre that left 20 primary school children and six women dead.

Helen Malyszka and Trish Keil, who both hail from Edinburgh, run a music school just half a mile from Sandy Hook Elementary School where last Friday’s killings took place.

Adam Lanza, 20, shot his mother dead before heading to the school. His last act was to turn a gun on himself as police closed in.

Ms Malyszka compared the shooting with the events of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington DC, saying she would always remember December 14.

“It’s that kind of thing for this small town. But we will overcome, because good does overcome evil. It does. There’s more good – there has to be.”

Ms Keil, added: “There has to be a change here in America.”

Ms Malyszka teaches music at St Rose Pre-School, Newtown Congregational Nursery Co-op and the Wesley Learning Centre.

The teacher moved to the United States in 1975 after graduating from Stevenson College in Edinburgh with a degree in early childhood

She has run the Suzuki Talent Education School with her sister for more than 25 years.

Ms Malyszka, who has immediate family in Edinburgh, said: “We have worked with some of the poor victims or their siblings and sadly have been affected by this tragedy.

“We are also very involved with the music ministry at St Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, where so many families have been affected. The church has been a focal point of much of the coverage.”

In addition to teaching, Ms Malyszka has performed in vocal harmony trio Eclipse throughout Scotland and in the United States for more than 30 years with her twin sister and her brother, Matt Wilkie.

Their calls for change to America’s gun laws were added to the voices of those from Dunblane, Stirlingshire, where 16 schoolchildren and one adult were killed by gunman Thomas Hamilton in March 1996.

Resident Harry McEwan, 71, said: “The memories are flooding back. It must be hell for the parents. We said prayers for them in my church. Dunblane has so much in common with what has happened in Newtown.”

Reverend Colin McIntosh, minister of Dunblane Cathedral, predicted it would take considerable time for the people of Newtown to move on.

“How do you strike the balance?” he asked. “The answer, I suspect, will be different for every community, but there will be problems for a long time to come.”

The Newtown massacre has sparked widespread calls for the US Congress and President Barack Obama to tighten America’s gun laws and enforcement.

Speaking at a vigil in Newtown, Mr Obama said he would use the powers of his office to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.

He said: “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end and to end them we must change.”