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Newtown Residents Fill Churches, Search For Answers In Friday’s Shooting Rampage

Candlelight vigil at Newtown church (credit: CBS 2)

Candlelight vigil at Newtown church (credit: CBS 2)

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NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – Residents of Newtown, Conn. continue to try to cope with Friday’s elementary school massacre that left 28 people, including 20 young children, dead.

Churches have been open around the clock since the tragedy, as families and neighbors seek solace. Even before mass was held Sunday morning, the pews were full of families and neighbors weeping and searching for answers, CBS 2′s Ann Mercogliano reported.

1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports


Sunday mass was again filled with Newtown residents in grief.

“They can’t be forgotten just like that. After a while, everything comes down, everybody has to remember how special, wonderful human beings they are,” one mourner told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “I can’t imagine how these parents…I can’t imagine losing a child. I’ve been fortunate, I have five children, they’ve all grown up without being exposed to something like this in their lifetime and I’m so grateful for that. But when I think of what these parents have gone through, oh my God.”

Another woman said she normally brings her four children with her to church, but not this week.

“I have a third grader, a second grader, a kindergartner and a 2-year-old. They don’t get it. They’re starting to ask questions. It’s very difficult to explain to them,” another mourner told Schuck.

At Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church, mourners gathered Saturday night to find comfort, while keeping the spirit of Christmas alive.

Hundreds came together to portray the Nativity scene, but this year an angel is missing.

First grader Olivia Engel was supposed to be dressed all in white for the celebration, but parishioners say she is now an angel in heaven watching over them.

“I just can’t believe it happened,” mourner Elizabeth O’Connell told CBS 2′s Mercogliano.

O’Connell worked as a special education teacher’s assistant at Sandy Hook Elementary School until June when she moved to Boston.

She drove to Newtown right after she heard the news that six of her former co-workers were gunned down by 20-year-old Adam Lanza.

“Everyone knew each other and everyone got along and we were like family there so it’s just heartbreaking to hear,” O’Connell told Mercogliano.

Elizabeth’s sister Kelly also worked with some of the teachers and students as a volunteer.

“I volunteer here and I found out one of the kids that I used to teach, she died and it really, I keep seeing her and it’s so sad,” Kelly O’Connell told CBS 2′s Mercogliano. “She just always had a smile, giggling, very talkative. Just a very bright person.”

Parents held their children outside the church for the prayer vigil Saturday night.

Some who don’t even live in this community came to lend their support.

“I came here because I have children, I have a grandchild. It hits home, especially at the holidays and I feel bad for the families and I want to pray for them,” Bethany, Conn. resident Serena Allie told Mercogliano.

At least eight funerals are planned at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church over the next week.

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