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Feb 14, 2013 8:15 PM by Lupita Murillo

Tucson has connection to Newtown tragedy

TUCSON - It's Valentine's Day, and for one Tucson grandfather it's bittersweet.

Ron Richman's only granddaughter was among the 26 who were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school two months ago.

That's when 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary and shot his way through the locked doors.

20 children and six staff members were killed.

Lanza later killed himself.

Jennifer and Jeremy Richman live in Newtown, CT. Their daughter, Avielle Rose was among the victims. She was their only child. Both parents are University of Arizona graduates. Jeremy grew up in Tucson. They are starting the Avielle Richman Foundation.

Her grandfather Ron, is helping them out here in Tucson. He spoke exclusively to News 4 and says when she was born, his wife Rose died shortly thereafter, his concern, "At the time was the fact that she would never get the chance watch my granddaughter grow up and at this point none of us will ever get that chance."

So now Richman is honoring his only granddaughter by helping his son and daughter-in-law start the Avielle Foundation aimed at addressing mental health. He talks about the shooters, in Aurora Colorado, Tucson, and Newtown.

"Clearly those people indicated early on they needed help. And they didn't get it. We need to find ways to help those people."

That's why his son Jeremy recently spoke to the Connecticut Congressional Committee about the foundation. "The Avielle Foundation goal is to protect vulnerable groups from violence by supporting mental health research and fostering strong communities."

His son and daughter-in-law are both scientists, and know the importance of research. "Too little is known in the mental health area as to what drives these violent behaviors."

So grandpa's mission is "to figure out if we can, how alleviate and prevent mental illness and prevent people from doing those horrible things."

Richman has a special message on this day. "Especially since it is Valentine's Day, hold your kids close, and think it's the last day."

He also wanted to thank the Tucson community for all their support here and in Newtown.

www.aviellefoundation.org

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