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Grieving Community Says Goodbye To First Of Newtown Massacre Victims

Noah Pozner, Jack Pinto (Family Handouts)

Noah Pozner, Jack Pinto (Family Handouts)

Tragedy In Newtown

NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – A grieving town said goodbye to two boys during the first of 27 funerals for the victims killed last week when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The funerals for 6-year-old Noah Pozner and 6-year-old Jack Pinto were held Monday afternoon.

PHOTOS: Newtown Shooting Victims

At Noah’s funeral in Fairfield, mourners placed teddy bears, balloons and flowers at the base of a maple tree.

Noah loved animals and Mario Bros. video games, and called his twin sister, Arielle, his best friend. He also loved tacos, and said he someday wanted to be the manager of a taco factory.

His family said Monday that someday Noah would have been a wonderful husband and a loving father.

Having turned 6 less than a month ago, Noah was the youngest victim.

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports

Family members said Noah liked to figure out how things worked mechanically. His uncle, Alexis Haller, said he was a “lively, smart kid” who “would have become a great man.”

A sign for Noah Pozner hangs on tree outside funeral home (credit: Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

A sign for Noah Pozner hangs on tree outside funeral home (credit: Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

The 6-year-old was mature for his age.

“He was a very good boy, and when she told him, ‘I love you,’ he answered, ‘Not as much as I love you,’” Rabbi Edgar Gluck said. “That was his constant answer to his mother.”

His sister, Arielle, was also at school Friday, but in a different classroom and survived the shooting. The pair, along with their 8-year-old sister Sophia, were inseparable.

1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports

As CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported, there were lots of hugs, and lots of tears as people said goodbye to Noah, who was described by his uncle as “kind, caring, smart, funny, and sometimes even a little mischievous.”

“I started to cry,” one man said. “It’s very close to home; got even closer this morning.”

Noah’s mother did not speak to media, but she did speak during her son’s service. CBS 2 was told her words were simple, profound, and powerful.

“Noah, you will not pass through this way again. I can only believe that you were planted on earth to bloom in heaven. Take flight, my boy. Soar. You now have the wings you always wanted. Go to that peaceful valley that we will all one day come to know,” she said in the eulogy.

“There was not a dry eye when the mother spoke,” Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht said. “There was tremendous passion; tremendous feeling, and I think everyone was touched.”

Noah’s tiny casket was barely visible as it was carried out of the funeral home and placed into the hearse.

Once the funeral procession left the block, all that was left was a small memorial containing white balloons, flowers and toys against a tree and a sign that said what many are likely thinking, “our hearts are with you, Noah.”

Rabbi Yisroel Deren called on the mourners to do good deeds in the future.

“Noah, his classmate and the heroic teachers who gave their lives are in heaven,” he said. “Now is the time to do good deeds to bring heaven here. So no other families have to suffer this sorrow and grief.”

Meanwhile at Jack’s service in Newtown, Hymns rang out from inside the Honan Funeral Home. The mourners included students wearing Newtown football jerseys.

“The casket was a beautiful, white childlike casket, and it’s just so hard to see and know that there’s so many more, dozens more like that,” said Pinto family friend Jerry Reinholz.

One 7-year-old boy attended Jack’s funeral with his father.

“It was hard; very hard,” said Rob Stoerzinger. “He wrote on his picture, ‘I had fun wrestling.’”

As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, Jack was an avid wrestler, and many of his friends showed up wearing sports jerseys. Red white and blue medals were placed around their necks.

Jack dreamed of becoming a professional football player and idolized Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.

“One speaker at the cemetery said Jack would be throwing a football in heaven, knocking halos off angels,” Reinholz said. “Everyone laughed at that.”

The deceased himself, in the casket, wore a New York Giants jersey — that of Cruz, who in learning that he was the child’s favorite football player, paid tribute to the brutally killed fan. In Sunday’s game against Atlanta, Cruz had written on his cleats and his gloves, “Jack Pinto, My Hero.”

Before the game Sunday, Cruz wrote Jack’s name on his shoes along with “This one is for you.”

“It was emotional,” Cruz said. “I was fighting back tears a little bit to do it, and it felt good to honor a family that was going through so much.”

The service for Jack included scriptural readings and hymns.

“It was very sad; as hard as any parent would take it at losing a first grader,” the Rev. Gwendolyn Glover said.

Most people who honored young Jack and his family did not want to speak. Their grieving was in private and their loss too personal, striking too close to home. In deference to the family, the media was kept at a distance, across the street.

Sheila Binardo is a long-time friend of Jack’s grandparents.

“It’s going to be a sad day for the rest of their lives,” she said.

Noah and Jack were among 20 students killed Friday when gunman Adam Lanza forced his way into the building and opened fire.

Six adults were also killed, including teacher Vicki Soto, who hid her first grade students inside a closet just before coming face to face with the gunman.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

“She loved them more than life and she would definitely put herself in front of them any day — any day and for any reason, so it doesn’t surprise anyone who knew Vicki that she did this,” her mother Donna Soto said.

At both of the boys’ funerals Monday, mourners wrestled with the question about what steps could be taken to prevent tragedies like Newtown from happening again.

“If people want to go hunting, a single-shot rifle does the job, and that does the job to protect your home, too,” said Ray DiStephan outside Noah’s funeral. “If you need more than that, I don’t know what to say.”

At a news conference Monday afternoon, Gov. Dannel Malloy called for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the shooting rampage.

“I’m asking that Friday, Dec. 21 at 9:30 a.m., exactly one week after the horror began to unfold at Newtown, that the entire state observe a moment of silence; 26 bells for the beautiful children and six wonderful adults who were killed at the school on that day,” Malloy said.

The governor said after the investigation into the shooting rampage has concluded, he will focus on three areas where he thinks the state and the nation can improve in an effort to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.

The governor said he believes there could have been a law, policy or procedure on the books that might have prevented the massacre.

He also said more needs to be done from a mental health perspective to reach out to kids and families who are obviously in trouble.

And Malloy joined the chorus of elected officials urging Washington to enact stricter gun control laws on a national level.

Investigators have offered no motive as to why Lanza went to Sandy Hook Friday after shooting and killing his mother, Nancy Lanza.

At the interfaith service in Newtown on Sunday, President Barack Obama said he would use “whatever power this office holds” to prevent more tragedies like Sandy Hook.

“What choice do we have?” Obama said “Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?”

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