Newtown observes Christmas amid mourning

 

Newtown marked Christmas amid snow-covered teddy bears, stockings, flowers and candles left in memorial to the 20 children and six adults shot dead in the second-largest school shooting in US history.

The outpouring of support for the Connecticut community continued through Christmas Eve, with visitors arriving with cards, handmade snowflakes and sympathy. 

"We know that they'll feel loved. They'll feel that somebody actually cares," said Treyvon Smalls, a 15-year-old who came bearing hundreds of cards and paper snowflakes collected from around the state. 

On Christmas Day, out-of-town police officers were on duty to give local police a break from the past 11 days of horror and mourning. 

"It's a nice thing that they can use us this way," Ted Latiak, a police detective from Greenwich, Connecticut, said Tuesday morning, as he and a fellow detective came out of a store with bagels and coffee for other officers. 

At St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, which eight of the child victims of the shooting attended, the pastor told parishioners at the second of four Masses on Tuesday that "today is the day we begin everything all over again." 

Recalling the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, the Rev. Robert Weiss said, "The moment the first responder broke through the doors, we knew good always overcomes evil." 

"We know Christmas in a way we never ever thought we would know it," Weiss said. "We need a little Christmas, and we've been given it." 

At the Trinity Episcopal Church, an overflow crowd of several hundred people attended Christmas Eve services. They were greeted by the sounds of a children's choir. 

The service generally took on a celebratory tone. Pastor Kathie Adams-Shepherd led the congregation in praying "that the joy and consolation of the wonderful counselor might enliven all who are touched by illness, danger, or grief, especially all those families affected by the shootings in Sandy Hook." 

Police say the gunman, Adam Lanza, killed his mother in her bed before his rampage and killed himself as he heard officers arriving. Authorities have yet to give a theory about his motive. 

A mediator who worked with Lanza's parents during their divorce has said Lanza, 20, was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, an autism-like disorder that is not associated with violence. It is not known whether he had other mental health issues. The guns used in the shooting had been purchased legally by his mother, Nancy Lanza, a gun enthusiast.

AP

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