Newtown massacre: Victim's boyfriend was to propose at Christmas

 

Rachel D'Avino, a behavioural therapist working at Sandy Hook elementary who perished along with 25 other victims shot at the school would have received a marriage proposal on Christmas Eve, a friend has confirmed.

Anthony Cerritelli, Ms D'Avino's boyfriend, had asked her parents for permission to marry their 29-year-old daughter, whom police said died trying to shield a student from Adam Lanza's assault.

Dogs bring comfort

A Lutheran charity in Illinois has sent eight golden retrievers to Connecticut to help with the counselling of the bereaved. The comfort-dog initiative started in 2008 following a shooting at Northern Illinois University in which five students died. Handler Lynn Buhrke, 66, who accompanied the dogs on their 800-mile trip, told reporters in Newtown: "The dogs have become the bridge. People just sit down and talk to you."

The shocked neighbour

Retired psychologist Gene Rosen has revealed how he was confronted by six survivors of the shooting as he left his house on Friday morning. Mr Rosen, 69, said he had just fed his cats and was heading out to a diner around 9.30am when he spotted four boys and two girls sitting in a semicircle at the end of his drive, being comforted by a bus driver. "We can't go back to school," one of the boys told him. "Our teacher is dead. Mrs Soto. We don't have a teacher."

Mr Rosen had heard the shooting, but had assumed it was a hunter in nearby woods. "I had no idea what happened," he said. "I couldn't take it in." Victoria Soto, 27, was hailed as the heroine of Sandy Brook after she hid her pupils in a cupboard when the gunman burst into her classroom. The children survived, she did not.

The false alarm

A masked man who caused schools in nearby Ridgefield to be locked down on Monday afternoon was carrying an umbrella on his back that "had the outward appearance of a samurai sword", police said. Wilfredo Seda, 22, was charged with a breach of the peace after a motorist spotted him with what they thought was a rifle. Buses carrying children to school were diverted.

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