The 19-year-old brother of a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim announced Monday that he will run for state Senate in Connecticut, challenging the incumbent who he said never returned a phone call his grieving mother made after the mass shooting.
JT Lewis, whose younger brother Jesse was killed along with 19 other classmates and six staff members after a gunman opened fire in the Newtown, Connecticut, school in 2012, kicked off his candidacy in a video on Twitter.
Lewis said that after the shooting, he and his mom called then-Republican state Rep. Tony Hwang “to help prevent future tragedies” but never heard back from the lawmaker. Hwang went on to win a state Senate seat in 2014.
“The little boy who just wanted someone to hear his mom’s call for help is grown up,” Lewis said in the video. He also expressed frustration with elected officials who he said, “are in it for themselves, take pictures and feel an inflated sense of importance.”
Lewis’ brother Jesse, who was a first-grader when he was killed, has been credited with saving others after he shouted for his classmates to run while the gunman paused to reload, Jesse was shot moments later.
He had just seen his teacher shot and urged the others to flee while the gunman put a new clip into his semi-automatic rifle, his mother said back in 2013.
“I believe that inside every one of us is that same innate courage and to honor Jesse, I’ve decided to be courageous enough to run for state Senate in my home state,” Lewis said after describing his brother’s last moments. “I’m entering the fray because it is only with real leadership that Connecticut will see change that it is so desperate for.”
Lewis, a Republican, has been a supporter of President Donald Trump and met with him for a roundtable on school security at the White House in December, according to the Hartford Courant.
The Connecticut election will take place next November.