Hundreds of mourners clogged the narrow streets of Newtown today for the funeral of six-year-old Jack Pinto, the first of the victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting to be laid to rest.
The little boy was described as an avid sports fan who loved wrestling and the New York Giants. Jack was buried wearing the jersey of his favorite player Victor Cruz.
Giants’ receiver Cruz played in Sunday’s football game with the boy’s name written all over his cleats and gloves, saying he was ‘honored’ to have been Jack’s favorite.
Noah Pozner, who was six, was also laid to rest on Monday afternoon. Noah was the youngest victim of the rampage and his twin sister, Arielle, escaped unhurt.
The family’s rabbi has said he encouraged Noah’s mother to focus on her other four children amid the grief.
People came from all over Connecticut and as far away as Atlanta to pay their respects. Many did not know the little boys but were so moved by the horrific murders that they thought it was important to show support for the town and the grieving families.
‘It’s love. Sometimes you can’t explain it. We just had to be here to show out support,’ said Heidi Faust, who drove from Atlanta to Newtown.
The funeral home was packed out, leaving friends and family members to wait in line in the rain to enter the small building on Monday.
Children wore Sandy Hook sweatshirts or jackets from the community’s other schools as a show of solidarity for the grief-stricken community.
Most said they were still too shaken to speak about the tragedy as they attended the first two of 20 funerals of schoolchildren massacred in their classrooms.
Photography agencies confirmed to MailOnline that their presence was allowed provided they remained at a respectful distance.
All the child victims were six or seven years old. The school principal of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school psychologist and four teachers were also gunned down.
The rest of the nation anxiously sent children back to school on Monday amid tightened security. Within hours of the school day starting, lockdowns were declared in nearby Connecticut and New York towns.
In New Jersey, one high school’s morning announcements included an added warning not to let strangers into the building.
Newtown’s schools remained closed on Monday, the first academic day since the 20-year-old gunman claimed 28 lives, including his mother’s and his own.
The funerals come a day after President Obama visited Newtown to comfort the families. Obama’s remarks were heralded on Monday morning by relatives of teacher Victoria Soto, 27, who was killed as she tried to protect her first-grade students.
‘He really made us feel like she really was a hero and that everyone should know it,’ her brother, Carlos Soto, told CBS.
At Sunday night’s memorial, Obama offered words of hope and promises of action to stop future tragedies.
‘We bear responsibility for every child … This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right,’ he said.
The President kept his emotions in tighter check than he did on Friday, when he cried openly while addressing the shooting. But tears ran freely among mourners in the packed high school auditorium, who wailed when he read the names of the adults and children killed.
Schools remained closed in Newtown as faculty members met to decide when they would open again. To keep children occupied on a drizzling Monday, youth sports groups set up an indoor field day with athletics, board games and arts and crafts. By early morning, more than 100 children joined in the activities.
The community will have to make a decision about what to do with the bullet-ridden, Sandy Hook Elementary School, whose students will for now attend classes in an empty school in a neighbouring town.
‘I think we have to go back into that building at some point. That’s how you heal. It doesn’t have to be immediately but I sure wouldn’t want to give up on it,’ said local resident Tim Northrop.
A more detailed picture of Adam Lanza’s attack emerged on Sunday. After killing his mother, Nancy Lanza, at home, Adam Lanza shot his way into the school. He had attended Sandy Hook as a child, according to former classmates.
Police said Lanza was armed with hundreds of bullets in high-capacity magazines of about 30 rounds each for the Bushmaster AR 15 rifle and two handguns he carried into the school, and had a fourth weapon, a shotgun, in his car outside. He killed himself in the school.
In Washington, a pro-gun lawmaker called on Congress and the gun industry to come together on a ‘sensible, reasonable approach’ to curbing high-powered, assault weapons like those used in Newtown.
‘Never before have we seen our babies slaughtered. This never happened in America, that I can recall, ever seeing this kind of carnage,’ said Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who has earned top marks from the gun industry. ‘This has changed where we go from here.’