Wednesday 21 March 2018

Tears and heartbreak as first of massacred innocents buried

James Orr Newtown

THE first funerals for the victims of the Connecticut school massacre were held last night, including for the youngest child to die in the shootings.

The service for Noah Pozner, who celebrated his sixth birthday just two weeks ago, was held just 30 minutes' drive from where Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 schoolchildren and six adults on Friday.

Noah Pozner, who was Jewish, was described by his uncle, Allexis Haller, as being as "smart as a whip" but also "gentle with a rambunctious streak".

The young boy's twin sister was at the school at the time of the incident, but survived the attack because she had been in a different classroom.

Her family have said that she was his brother's best friend, and that the pair had been inseparable.

Yesterday, the boy's family gathered for a private funeral service and his burial took place at a nearby cemetery.

Meanwhile, some 20 miles away, the family of Jack Pinto came together in Danbury for his funeral at the Newtown Village Cemetery.

The little boy was such a huge fan of the American football team the New York Giants, and their player Victor Cruz, that the family said they were contemplating burying the child in the number 80 jersey worn by Cruz.

In tribute to the family, the player said yesterday: "We see the effect we have on kids, and it's humbling. It's a real honour to be a role model.

"For now, all we want to do is comfort the family. We'll think about other things we can do to help in the long term."

In front of the funeral home, well-wishers placed two teddy bears, a bouquet of white flowers and a single red rose at the base of a maple tree, while hymns rang out from inside.

The funerals came as authorities announced that Sandy Hook Elementary School, the scene of massacre, would remain closed "indefinitely".

Police said the premises would stay shut for "as long as is needed for investigatory purposes", and officials were unable to confirm if, due to the inevitable memories of the carnage last Friday, it would ever reopen.

Speaking yesterday, Newtown police Lieutenant George Sinko admitted he "would find it very difficult" for young children to return to the same site where so many pupils had died.

But he added that the community was adamant that the victims should stay together.

"We want to keep these kids together. They need to support each other," he said.

Last night, police investigating the shooting were still unable to offer any motive for the attack, and said no letters or diaries shedding light on the incident had been found.

Communities in the state remained on edge and yesterday afternoon schools in nearby Ridgefield were temporarily closed after a suspicious person, possibly carrying a weapon, was seen near a local train station.

Further funerals, including the funeral of Dawn Hochsprung, the principle at the school who died trying to protect her students, are expected to take place tomorrow.

Last night police said that two adults injured in the school shooting would be critical to their investigation.

Police lieutenant Paul Vance said the pair remained in hospital and were recovering from gunshot wounds.

He said investigators would "speak with them when it's medically appropriate and they will shed a great deal of light on the facts and circumstances of this tragic investigation".

Officers are planning to interview many witnesses.

They have vowed to analyse all evidence, including every single round of ammunition fired.

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. ( ©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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