LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - As parents made their way through the afternoon school pickup line, emotions of anxiety and relief spread across their faces.
"I wanted to come straight to the school, but obviously I didn't and I'm just going to spend the evening hanging out with my babies," said one mother.
Earlier this morning, news broke that an armed man entered a Newtown, Connecticut elementary opening fire on a crowd of defenseless kids. Twenty-six people died, twenty of those children.
"I'm beside myself. I don't know how those parents up there are handling and dealing with their loss. I mean, it's horrible. I've cried all day today every time I've heard something on the news about it," said one father.
While Lufkin is nearly 2,000 miles away from Newtown, Lufkin ISD Superintendent Roy Knight says a tragedy like this can happen anywhere.
"It's the one thing I lose sleep about in the school business. Those things that you really can't control and are so unpredictable," Knight said.
Knight says schools have protocols for handling visitors, but as a public campus it's hard to keep everyone out.
"You work to put as many protocols in place to ensure students safety as best as you can but, in the end we are not a penitentiary; we're a public school and parents have access," Knight said.
As parents all over the nation hold their children a little tighter tonight, Knight says everyone needs to start banding together against violence like this.
"It just reminds us over and over again that you can never be too safe with our students," Knight said.