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Demolition begins on Sandy Hook school building
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Demolition begins on Sandy Hook school building

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Workers have begun demolishing the elementary school building where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults, the town's top elected leader said Thursday.

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra said small-scale demolition is underway at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the project will take several weeks.

"The process of demolition is incremental, staged precisely and executed carefully," she said. "There is no wrecking ball action; it is rather a piece-by-piece, section-by-section removal."

The gunman killed his mother at their home before going to the school on Dec. 14. He committed suicide as police arrived.

A task force of 28 Newtown elected officials voted unanimously in May to raze the Sandy Hook Elementary School and build a new one on the property where the existing school is located.

Newtown has accepted a $50 million state grant for the project, and a new school is expected to open by December 2016. Students have been attending classes in a neighboring town.

Contractors are being asked to destroy materials to eliminate nearly every trace of the building, an effort Llodra has said is intended to protect the victims' privacy and keep people from taking parts of the building as souvenirs. Contractors also are required to sign confidentiality agreements to forbid public discussion of the site and the building.