The crime rate in New York City was exceptionally low in 2012 - the murder rate hit an all-time low. But just a couple of hours away, more than two dozen people, mostly children, were killed in one of the worst acts of school violence in the country's history. And that was only one of the mass murders in the United States for the year.
FOX News Radio's Dave Anthony reports:
Terrible things happen every year, but in 2012, we had more than our share.
(Parent) "We'll always remember December 14th."
When a 20-year-old man burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and went on a shooting spree.
(Student) "You hear bangings, and then on the loudspeaker, we hear heavy breathing and then we hear gunshoots."
Then, those little kids hid in a closet until help arrived.
(Student) "Police came and said, 'Line up and close your eyes and hold onto each other.'"
And they were escorted out as their horrified mom and dads rushed to the scene from home or from work.
(Parent) "All these parents were waiting for their children to come out, they thought that they were, you know, still alive."
But many were not.
(Parent) "Twenty parents aren't gonna be able to tuck their kids into bed."
Robbie Parker is among them, losing his six-year-old daughter, Emilie.
(Parker) "I don't know how to get through something like this. My wife and I don't understand how to process all of this and how to...how to get our lives going."
Six adults were also massacred with the 20 children.
(Parent) "This has just broken the heart of the whole town."
The 20-year-old gunman, Adam Lanza, murdered his mother at home first, then went to the school, ending his rampage by killing himself as police arrived.
(President Obama) "I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow."
President Obama attended a vigil in Newtown two days later.
(President Obama) "We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end."
Renewing a gun control debate just months after a horror show in a movie theater.
That horror show took place in July in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."
FOX News Radio's Jessica Rosenthal covered the story:
Just minutes into a midnight showing on opening day of the latest Batman movie, a man dressed in tactical gear with bright dyed orange hair opened fire inside the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Some initially thought it was a prank - smoke filled the theater, but then, shots were fired. Twelve people were killed and 58 injured.
The suspect, 24-year-old James Holmes, was arrested minutes later outside. But right after the arrest, police went to his apartment, which they'd found out was rigged.
(Oates) "I see an awful lot of wires, trip wires; jars full of ammunition, jars full of liquid; some things that look like mortar rounds."
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates described Holmes as wearing a mask, ballistic helmet, bulletproof vest, bullet-resistant leggings, a throat protector and tactical gloves upon being arrested. They say he used three guns during the shooting, but had bought four - they had been purchased legally.
Outside the rigged apartment, people like Jackie Mitchell and Rachel Reid said they knew Holmes, that they'd hung out with him at a local bar.
(Mitchell/Reid) "Geeky sunglasses, you know; backpack, you know. You don't see no killer." // "Doesn't seem like a psychopath." // "Yeah, you don't see that."
Holmes had been a PhD student at the University of Colorado, where he was studying neuroscience. However, he had been withdrawing from the school. Before he did, though, he met with psychiatrist and professor Dr. Lynne Fenton at the campus, this is according to court documents. He mailed her a notebook, along with some burnt money inside of it, but she never received it. It had been sent just before the shooting and sat in the university's mail room that weekend.
However, it's been reported that Dr. Fenton was so disturbed by Holmes when she met him that she told the campus Threat-Assessment Team about him. It's also been reported that the notebook contained possible plans of the shooting. At his first court appearance, Holmes appeared dazed and out of it. In subsequent hearings, Holmes' attorneys have called him mentally ill. Among the charges he's facing: two murder charges for each person killed and two attempted murder charges for each of those injured.
Just weeks before the shooting in the Aurora movie theater, there was another mass shooting. This time, it was at a house of worship, as a man walked into a Wisconsin Sikh temple and killed six people before turning his gun on himself.