The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 17, 2012

Newtown plans funerals as school's future debated

— A grieving Connecticut town braced itself Monday to bury the first two of the 20 small victims of an elementary school gunman and debated when classes could resume — and where, given the carnage in the building and the children's associations with it.

The people of Newtown weren't yet ready to address the question just three days after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and a day after President Barack Obama pledged to seek change in memory of the children and six adults ruthlessly slain by a gunman packing a high-powered rifle.

"We're just now getting ready to talk to our son about who was killed," said Robert Licata, the father of a student who escaped harm during the shooting. "He's not even there yet."

Newtown officials couldn't say whether Sandy Hook Elementary, where authorities said all the victims were shot at least twice, would ever reopen. Monday classes were canceled, and the district was making plans to send surviving Sandy Hook students to a former school building in a neighboring town.

The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, was carrying an arsenal of hundreds of rounds of especially deadly ammunition, authorities said Sunday — enough to kill just about every student in the school if given enough time, raising the chilling possibility that the bloodbath could have been even worse.

The shooter decided to kill himself when he heard police closing in about 10 minutes into Friday's attack, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said on ABC's "This Week."

At the interfaith service in Newtown on Sunday evening, Obama said he would use "whatever power this office holds" to engage with law enforcement, mental health professionals, parents and educators in an effort to prevent more tragedies like Newtown.

"What choice do we have?" Obama said on a stark stage that held only a small table covered with a black cloth, candles and the presidential podium. "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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