The first funerals were planned for 6-year-old Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner, who had his birthday two weeks ago. They would be buried a day after the small community of Newtown, already stripping itself of many Christmas decorations, came together for a vigil where President Barack Obama said he will use "whatever power" he has to prevent similar massacres.
"What choice do we have?" he said. "Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?"
Investigators have offered no motive for the shooting, and the Connecticut community struggled to comprehend what drove 20-year-old Adam Lanza to shoot to death his mother at home in bed Friday morning, drive her car to the school and unleash gunfire on six adults and 20 children who were 6 and 7 years old.
All the victims at the school apparently were shot more than once, and some of them were shot at close range, Chief Medical Examiner Dr H Wayne Carver has said. He said the ammunition was the type designed to break up inside a victim's body and inflict the maximum amount of damage.
Police said Lanza was carrying an arsenal of ammunition big enough to kill just about every student in the school if given enough time. He shot himself in the head just as he heard police drawing near, authorities said.
Newtown officials couldn't say whether Sandy Hook Elementary would ever reopen. Today's classes were canceled, and the district was making plans to send surviving students to a former school building in a neighboring town.
"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 police Lt George Sinko said he "would find it very difficult" for students to return to the same school. But, he added, "We want to keep these kids together. They need to support each other."
A grim Obama told Connecticut Gov Dannel Malloy that Friday was the most difficult day of his presidency.
The shootings have restarted a debate in Washington about what politicians can to do help gun control or otherwise. Obama has called for "meaningful action" to prevent killings.
But the president's message at yesterday night's vigil was also one of grief and healing. Children in attendance held stuffed teddy bears and dogs. The smallest children sat on their parents' laps.
Newtown (US): The US town shattered by last week's school shooting prepared Monday for the first two funerals, including the one for the youngest victim, while officials weren't sure whether the school itself would ever reopen.
First Published: Monday, December 17, 2012, 23:16