Funerals begin in wake of US school shooting

Veronique Pozner, mother of Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings victim Noah Pozner, holds a single stalk of white rose as she walks to her son's gravesite for his burial at the B'nai Israel Cemetery in Monroe, Connecticut. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Veronique Pozner, mother of Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings victim Noah Pozner, holds a single stalk of white rose as she walks to her son's gravesite for his burial at the B'nai Israel Cemetery in Monroe, Connecticut. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

One boy was buried in his hero's football jersey in a small white coffin. Balloons and a teddy bear welcomed mourners to the funeral of his first grade schoolmate.

The two funerals ushered in what will be a week of memorial services and burials for the 20 children and six adults massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The shooting sent waves of anxiety across the country on the first school day since a 20-year-old gunman opened fire in the close-knit community last week.

Within hours of the school starting bell on Monday (local time), lockdowns were declared in nearby Connecticut and New York towns. And in southern California, Indiana and Tennessee, authorities arrested men on Sunday for making threats against schools.

Newtown's schools remained closed after a weekend of mourning that followed Adam Lanza's shooting spree on Friday that claimed 28 lives, including his mother's and his own.

Miniature caskets marked the first wave of funerals as Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto, both 6 years old, were laid to rest on Monday afternoon. Noah was the youngest victim of rampage and his twin sister, Arielle, escaped unhurt.

Under chilly, leaden skies, police and bomb-sniffing dogs conducted a precautionary search of the street lined with white balloons outside the Fairfield, Connecticut, funeral home where Noah's brief life was remembered.

A teddy bear and bouquet of white flowers lay at the base of an oak tree outside the Jewish service that was packed with mourners, including Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator-elect Chris Murphy.

"Noah was an impish, larger-than-life little boy," his family said in his obituary in the Newtown Bee newspaper.

"Everything he did conveyed action and energy through love. He was the light of our family, a little soul devoid of spite and meanness," wrote his parents, Lenny and Veronique Pozner, and four siblings.

At Jack's funeral in Newtown, about a half dozen children wearing a wrestling's club gold medals took off the awards and gave them to their teammate's parents.

A New York Giants fan, Jack was wearing a red-and-white jersey with receiver Victor Cruz's number 80 as he lay in an open white casket at the service. During Sunday's game, Cruz wore shoes with "R.I.P. Jack Pinto" written on the side.

"Jack was an incredibly loving and vivacious young boy, appreciated by all who knew him for his lively and giving spirit and steely determination," his parents, Dean and Tricia Pinto, and brother said in his obituary in the Newtown Bee.

Active in sports from football to skiing, he was remembered "for the immeasurable joy he brought to all who had the pleasure of knowing him, a joy whose wide reach belied his six short years."

Their funerals came a day after President Barack Obama visited Newtown to comfort the families, promising action to stop future tragedies. Obama's remarks were heralded on Monday morning by relatives of teacher Victoria Soto, 27, who was killed as she tried to protect her first-grade students.

"He really made us feel like she really was a hero and that everyone should know it," her younger brother, Carlos Soto, told CBS "This Morning."

Later Monday, White House spokesman said Obama's plan for action to curb violence includes gun control "but is far from all of it."

All the dead children were 6 or 7 years old. The school principal of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school psychologist and four teachers were also gunned down.

With Newtown schools closed on Monday, youth sports groups set up an indoor field day to keep children busy on a drizzling Monday. More than 100 children joined in the athletics, board games and arts and crafts.

A more detailed picture of Lanza's stunning attack emerged.

After killing his mother, Nancy Lanza, at home, Adam Lanza shot his way into the school. He had attended Sandy Hook as a child, according to former classmates, but authorities said on Monday he had no current connection with the school.

Police said Lanza was armed with hundreds of bullets in high-capacity magazines of about 30 rounds each for the Bushmaster AR 15 rifle and two handguns he carried into the school, and had a fourth weapon, a shotgun, in his car outside. He killed himself in the school.

In Washington, a growing number of U.S. lawmakers - including a leading pro-gun senator - called for a look at curbing assault weapons like the one used in the massacre, a sign that attitudes toward gun control could be shifting.

"Never before have we seen our babies slaughtered. This never happened in America, that I can recall, ever seeing this kind of carnage," said Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who has earned top marks from the gun industry. "This has changed where we go from here."

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