Newtown, Conn. —
As they were led away, children were warned to close their eyes so they would not see the gruesome aftermath of the attack.
Parents rushed to the scene. Family members walked away from a firehouse that was being used as a staging area, some of them weeping. One man put his arms around a woman as they walked down the middle of the street, oblivious to everything around them.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other public officials came to the firehouse. So did clergymen like Monsignor Robert Weiss of Newtown's St. Rose Roman Catholic Church. He watched as parents came to realize that they would never see their children alive again.
"All of them were hoping their child would be found OK. But when they gave out the actual death toll, they realized their child was gone," Weiss said.
He recalled the reaction of the brother of one of the victims.
"They told a little boy it was his sister who passed on," Weiss said. "The boy's response was, 'I'm not going to have anyone to play with.'"
Long into the night, Leidlein sat with parents who had lost their children, trying to do what little she could to offer consolation.
"They were asking why. They can't wrap their minds around it. Why? What's going on?," she said. "And we just don't have any answers for them."