Twenty seven wooden angels stand in a yard down the street from the Sandy Hook School December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEWTOWN, Conn. -- At a time when Newtown should be reveling in holiday cheer, the
grief-stricken community will begin the grim task of lowering little
coffins into the ground.
PHOTOS | Remembering the Sandy Hook ES victims
Jack Pinto, 6, whose love for sports ran the gamut, but none so deep as football, will be laid to rest Monday.
Noah Pozner, another
6-year-old, whose family said he could get what he wanted just by
batting his long eyelashes, will also be buried.
And the heartbreaking ritual will continue for days.
Jessica Rekos on Tuesday. Benjamin Wheeler on Thursday. Madeleine Hsu, Friday. All of them 6 years old.
RELATED | Newtown braces for burials
MORE | Sandy Hook shooting victims' names released
But even after the
families of the 20 children and six educators killed at Sandy Hook
Elementary School say their last goodbyes, it's unlikely the tight-knit
Connecticut community will ever be the same.
the pain here," resident Darla Henggeler said. "You can't imagine. We're
still in shock. I can't let my heart go there because it's so
"I think once it settles in, I think my heart will break."
Clues about what happened, but not why
It's possible that no
one will ever know what led gunman Adam Lanza to kill his mother, Nancy,
in their home before taking her guns and raining hell on Sandy Hook
Elementary School and eventually killing himself.
RELATED | Local schools step up security after Conn. shooting
MORE | The 'mysterious' withdrawn life of Adam Lanza
Two wounded adults who
survived the school shooting could play a key role in helping
investigators reconstruct what happened Friday, Connecticut State Police
Lt. J. Paul Vance said Monday.
The adults "suffered gunshot wounds and are recovering," Vance told reporters. He did not provide additional details.
On Friday, a parent who was at Sandy Hook during the shooting said the school's vice principal had been injured.
Previously, Vance had said that only one person was wounded. The second wounded survivor's identity was unclear Monday.
"Our investigators will,
in fact, speak with them when it's medically appropriate," Vance said,
"and certainly they will shed a great deal of light on the facts and
circumstances of this tragic investigation."
tight-lipped about details of their investigation Monday. Hundreds of
troopers, detectives and other police are piecing together clues, Vance
said, analyzing every round of ammunition and every weapon, in addition
to every detail of the gunman's medical history.
"I'm not at liberty to
discuss any of the information so far uncovered, but suffice it to say
... we will cover every single facet," he said.
Authorities now know the
gunman used "an assault weapon" to "literally (shoot) an entrance into
the building," Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said Sunday.
Using a Bushmaster AR-15
"assault-type rifle," the 20-year-old fired multiple magazines -- each
of which contained 30 bullets -- to gun down the adults and children in
two classrooms, Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance said.
All the victims were shot between three and 11 times. The perpetrator had no known criminal record.
His father, Peter Lanza,
released a statement Saturday saying his family is "grieving along with
all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy."
"Our hearts go out to
the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those who were
injured," the father said. "We are in a state of disbelief and trying to
find whatever answers we can. We, too, are asking why.
Obama: "These tragedies must end"
In Newtown High School's
packed auditorium on Sunday, President Barack Obama offered his
condolences, recited the names of the children slain at Sandy Hook and
pledged to work toward stopping such shootings in the future.
"In the coming weeks, I
will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens
-- from law enforcement to mental health professionals, to parents and
educators -- in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,"
The president didn't
mention specific steps he would take, but he said the country has failed
to do everything it can to protect youths from such immense tragedy.
"Can we honestly say
we're doing enough to keep our children -- all of them -- safe from
harm?" he said, adding that "if we don't get that right, we don't get
"If we're honest with ourselves, the answer is no."
Obama said it was the
fourth time he's seen a community torn apart by a mass shooting during
his presidency: Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, and now, Newtown.
"These tragedies must end," he said. "And to end them, we must change."
Shooting sparks reactions nationwide
The tragic shooting has
touched nerves nationwide, with some holding vigils and building
makeshift memorials to support the victims, and others calling for
Participants in a candlelight vigil in New York City passed around a petition calling for greater gun control, Joe Josephs told CNN's iReport.
John Licata told CNN's iReport that the need for better vetting before people buy guns is clear, and authorities need to take things a step further.
"We have to get our
public officials to do something about this," he said. "One of those
issues is banning assault weapons. ... I am a believer in the Second
Amendment, but there has to be a ban."
Others said more guns were needed.
Jamerson Riley told CNN's iReport that the shooting shows
the need for more armed guards in schools. He says that he's a gun owner
and that the recent mass shootings have made him consider getting
permit to carry a concealed weapon.
"I would absolutely
carry a concealed weapon. I have a 2-year-old daughter, and she is the
light of my life. And I would like to protect her," he said. "It is
horrible to think that we have come to a path where this is necessary,
but I think it is fixable."
Relatives carry on the victims' voices
As more details about the 20 children and six educators emerge, so do stories of heroism and joyous memories of lives cut far too short.
When the gunfire rang
out, 27-year-old Victoria Soto scrambled to move her students away from
her first-grade classroom door and shielded them in the corner of the
It's not surprising that Soto would risk her life to save others, her mother said.
"She was truly
selfless," Donna Soto said Sunday. "She would not hesitate to think to
save anyone else before herself and especially children. She loved them
more than life."
Parker was a budding artist who would have been the first to console the
victims had she not been killed, her father said.
"She loved to use her
talents to touch the lives of everyone that she came in contact with,"
Robbie Parker said. "She always carried around her markers and pencils
so she never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for
those around her."
Emilie's father also offered his condolences to all the families affected.
"This includes the
family of the shooter," he said. "I can't imagine how hard this
experience must be for you, and I want you to know that our family, and
our love and support goes out to you as well."
Noah, one of the boys
who will be laid to rest Monday, loved playing with his siblings --
especially his twin sister. They still don't know how their brother
passed away, Noah's aunt said.
"How do you tell them that's how their brother died?" Haller asked. "It's the unthinkable, really."
It's just as unbearable as the thought of a parent burying a child.
(Holly Yan and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN)