First 2 funerals after US school shooting

NEWTOWN, Connecticut (AP) - The U.S. town shattered by last week's school shooting held its first two funerals Monday, including the one for the youngest victim, and officials weren't sure whether the school itself would ever reopen. Nervous students and teachers across the country returned to classrooms under tighter security.
 
Further details on just what happened during Friday's shooting were "too difficult to discuss," state police Lt. Paul Vance, standing in a cold rain, told reporters Monday.
 
The first funerals were for 6-year-old Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner, who had his birthday two weeks ago. In front of the funeral home where relatives were mourning Noah, well-wishers placed two teddy bears, a bouquet of white flowers and a single red rose at the base of a maple tree. Hymns rang out from inside the funeral home where Jack's service was being held.
 
The boys were being buried a day after the small community of Newtown, already stripping itself of many Christmas decorations, came together for a vigil where President Barack Obama said he will use "whatever power" he has to prevent similar massacres.
 
"What choice do we have?" he said. "Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?"
 
Investigators have offered no motive for the shooting, and the Connecticut community struggled to comprehend what drove 20-year-old Adam Lanza to shoot to death his mother at home in bed Friday morning, drive her car to the school and unleash gunfire on six adults and 20 children who were 6 and 7 years old.
 
All the victims at the school apparently were shot more than once, and some of them were shot at close range, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver has said. He said the ammunition was the type designed to break up inside a victim's body and inflict the maximum amount of damage.
 
"I can tell you it broke our hearts when we couldn't save them all," Vance said. He said two adults who were injured were recovering.

Vance also said police may hold the school and the Lanza home for months as the investigation continues.
 
Police said Lanza was carrying an arsenal of ammunition big enough to kill just about every student in the school if given enough time. He shot himself in the head just as he heard police drawing near, authorities said.
 
Newtown officials couldn't say whether Sandy Hook Elementary would ever reopen. Monday's classes were canceled, and the district was making plans to send surviving students to a former school building in a neighboring town.
 
"We're just now getting ready to talk to our son about who was killed," said Robert Licata, the father of a student who escaped harm during the shooting. "He's not even there yet."
 
Newtown police Lt. George Sinko said he "would find it very difficult" for students to return to the same school. But, he added, "We want to keep these kids together. They need to support each other."
 
On Sunday, a grim Obama told Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy that Friday was the most difficult day of his presidency.
 
The shootings have restarted a debate in Washington about what politicians can to do help -- gun control or otherwise. Obama has called for "meaningful action" to prevent killings.
 
But the president's message at the Newtown vigil was also one of grief and healing. Children in attendance held stuffed teddy bears and dogs. The smallest children sat on their parents' laps.
 
Obama read the names of the adults who died, to some gasps and cries in the audience. He finished his speech by reading the first names of the children, slowly. Cries and sobs filled the room.
 
"That's when it really hit home," said Jose Sabillon, who attended the interfaith memorial with his son, Nick, who survived the shooting unharmed.
 
Said Obama of the girls and boys who died: "God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory."
 
The president first met privately with families of the victims and with the emergency personnel who responded to the shootings. Police and firefighters got hugs and standing ovations when they entered. So did Obama.
 
"We needed this," said the Rev. Matt Crebbin, senior minister of the Newtown Congregational Church. "We needed to be together to show that we are together and united."
 
On Monday, the task swung again to understanding how the shooting could have happened.
 
Investigators have offered no motive, and police have found no letters or diaries that could explain. They believe Lanza attended Sandy Hook many years ago, but they couldn't say why he went there Friday. Authorities said Lanza had no criminal history, and it was not clear whether he had a job.
 
A spokesman for Western Connecticut State University said Lanza took college classes when he was only 16. Paul Steinmetz confirmed that Lanza dropped out of a German language class and withdrew from a computer science class but earned high grades

in a computer class, American history and macroeconomics.
 
A former classmate there, Dot Stasny, said she and a classmate once invited Lanza out to a bar but he declined, saying he was only 17.
 
"We attributed him being quiet to him being so much younger than the rest of us," said Stasny, 30. "I assumed he was this super smart kid who was just doing extra course work."
 
Stasny said she once laughed with him about how difficult the German class was. "I just remember him as a nice, quiet kid," she said.
 
Divorce paperwork made public Monday shows that Lanza's mother had the authority to make all decisions regarding his upbringing. It makes no mention of any mental health issues regarding Lanza. The paperwork says the marriage broke down "irretrievably." The divorce was finalized in September 2009, when Adam Lanza was 17.
 
Federal agents have concluded that Lanza visited an area shooting range, but they do not know whether he practiced shooting there.
 
Lanza is believed to have used a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle in the school attack, a civilian version of the military's M-16. Versions of the AR-15 were outlawed in the United States under the 1994 assault weapons ban. That law expired in 2004, and Congress, in a nod to the political power of the gun-rights lobby, did not renew it.
 
Gun rights activists have remained largely quiet. In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, defended the sale of assault weapons and said that the principal at Sandy Hook, who authorities say died trying to overtake the shooter, should herself have been armed.
 
In Newtown, parents tried to focus on recovering.
 
"I feel like we have to get back to normal, but I don't know if there is normal anymore," said Kim Camputo, whose two children, 5 and 10, attend a different school. "I'll definitely be dropping them off and picking them up myself for a while."
 
   ------

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Matt Apuzzo, Pat Eaton-Robb, John Christoffersen, Ben Feller, Adam Geller, Jim Kuhnhenn and Michael Melia in Newtown; David Collins in Hartford, Conn.; Brian Skoloff in Phoenix; and Anne Flaherty in Washington.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments