Connecticut shooting: Newtown focuses on victims

December 15, 2012 9:01:14 PM PST
Even as investigators look for a motive behind the shooter's rampage, Saturday night in Newtown, the focus is on the victims.

There have been gatherings in Newtown since colonial times, 301 years, but never this.

Candles burned through the darkness for 26 souls that were stolen by a madman, an offering of flowers to a growing memorial for all, especially the 20 children, marked by teddy bears and tears.

Emilie Parker was all of six.

"Emilie's laughter was infectious and all those who knew her would agree this world a better place because she was in it," said Robbie Parker, Emilie's father.

"We're just devastated that someone so beautiful and perfect is no longer going to be in our lives, and for no reason," said Emilie's aunt, Alice Parker. "And we can only pray that we find understanding in the days and weeks to come and one day find peace."

Emilie was in one of two classrooms where the unimaginable happened Friday morning. Both were rooms full of first graders.

When the shooting ended in the first classroom, 15 of the 16 children there were dead.

Catherine Hubbard, six years old. Her middle name: Violet.

Jesse Lewis, also 6. His dad was on his way to the school Friday morning to watch him make a gingerbread house.

Ana Marquez-Greene, 7 years old, had an older brother in the school who survived. Ana was in the second classroom stormed by the gunman, one of five children who died there. Eleven survived in that room authorities say because Ana's teacher, Victoria Soto, got them in a closet and shielded others.

"I know her mom and dad have peace knowing the way Vicki was taken from us tragically protecting the children," said Soto's cousin, James Wiltsie. "Her life dream was to be a teacher and her instincts kicked in when she saw that there was harm coming towards her students."

The principal, Dawn Hocksprung, was also killed protecting students, turning on the school-wide public address system to warn her staff of a calamity in the making.

Hochsprung had taught her teachers and students what to do in an emergency. A recent tweet from her stated: "Safety first at Sandy Hook... It's a beautiful day for our annual evacuation."

Lauren Rousseau was one of her teachers. The 30-year-old Rousseau just went full-time at the school in October. Her father said she was like a kid in many ways, loved kids and died with them.

And Mary Sherlach the school psychologist. She was killed too. Her family said she was doing God's work.

President Barack Obama, who at the White House on Friday grew emotional, will arrive in Newtown late Sunday afternoon for 7 p.m. interfaith service at Newtown High School, ironically the same place the gunman attended.

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