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December 17, 2012

First Funerals Held for US School Rampage Victims

by Peter Fedynsky

Sadness enveloped the northeastern U.S. community of Newtown, Connecticut as the first two of 26 victims of Friday’s mass shooting were laid to rest. There was tight security at the funerals as a precaution against additional violence.
 
Mourners streamed into a funeral home in Fairfield, Connecticut where services were held for six-year-old Noah Pozner.  Local police lieutenant James Perez described the mood inside as beyond somber and beyond dread.  He said the boy’s casket was closed.
 
“Seeing that very tiny casket, it was even for someone like me who is used to seeing tragic events - it was indescribable.  I feel for the family and it really brings it home," he said.

Noah’s uncle eulogized the boy as a kid who was excited about reading, animals and video games, and who would have become a great man and a loving father.  
 
Noah’s funeral was held within a police cordon, complete with bomb-sniffing dogs.  Lieutenant Perez said authorities picked up chatter on social media about violence, although none of the threats was deemed credible. 
 
Noah’s classmate Jack Pinto was laid to rest in Newtown, dressed in a jersey with the name and number of his favorite athlete, Victor Cruz of the New York Giants football team.  Jack was athletic and was to have been in a wrestling tournament this past week.  
 
Victor Cruz wrote Jack’s name on his shoes and gloves for Sunday’s game and also spoke with a member of the boy's family. 
 
“I spoke to the older brother, he was distraught as well. I told him to stay strong, and I would do anything I can to honor them," he said. 
 
Students who survived the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School will resume classes on Wednesday, but at a different location.  It is not clear if the school will ever reopen because of the horror that took place there. 
 
The horrific shootings have sparked yet another debate on gun control in the United States. Several Democratic Party lawmakers have called for a new push to restrict sales of guns and ban military-style assault weapons.
 
California Senator Dianne Feinstein, the author of an assault-weapons ban that lapsed in 2004, said she will introduce new legislation this week.
 
Friday's attack was the second worst school shooting in U.S. history.  The worst occurred in 2007, when a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia.  

Before that, the deadliest U.S. school shooting was the 1999 rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where two teenagers killed 13 students and staff before killing themselves.

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