orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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December 19, 2012

Shattered Newtown tries to make sense of tragedy

NEWTOWN, Conn. — For a third straight day Wednesday, funeral professions rolled through a grieving Connecticut town trying to make sense of the massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults in an elementary school less than two weeks before Christmas.

Dr. Joseph Young, an optometrist, said he has already been to one funeral and plans to attend two or three more.

"The first few days, all you heard was helicopters and now at my office all I hear is the rumble of motorcycle escorts and funeral processions going back and forth throughout the day," he said. "It's difficult. It's just a constant reminder."

Most students in Newtown went back to school Tuesday except those from Sandy Hook Elementary, where a gunman armed with a military-style assault rifle slaughtered the children and six teachers and administrators Friday. He also killed his mother at her home. If police know why, they have not said.

Students at Sandy Hook, which serves kindergarten through fourth grade, will resume classes in a formerly shuttered school in a neighboring community in January.

In the meantime, mourners overlapped at back-to-back funerals that started Monday and will continue all week.

The first of Wednesday's funerals in Newtown was for 7-year-old Daniel Barden, a gap-toothed redhead and the youngest of three children whose family described him as "always smiling, unfailingly polite, incredibly affectionate, fair and so thoughtful towards others, imaginative in play, both intelligent and articulate in conversation: in all, a constant source of laughter and joy."

At the same time, in the town of Stratford, family and friends gathered to say goodbye to Victoria Soto, a 27-year-old teacher who has been hailed as a hero for dying while trying to shield her students, some of whom managed to escape.

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