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Connecticut weeps as it buries 6-yr-olds killed in school

Last updated on: December 19, 2012 12:30 IST

Connecticut weeps as it buries 6-yr-olds killed in school

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George Joseph

Heart wrenching scenes were witnessed at a Newton church as two more victims of the Sandy Elementary Hook School massacre -- James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos -- both six-year olds, were laid to rest. George Joseph reports

Reverend Dr Francis Luke Nambiaparambil drove from Danbury for the funerals of James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos to St Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, Connecticut, on Tuesday.

The two six-year-olds were among the 20 other children killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School where a gunman went on a rampage last Friday before shooting himself dead.

Two small caskets were accompanied by a few mourners to the church. Access to the church was closely guarded by the police. Yellow crime scene tape blocked entry to the church across its lawns.

Connecticut Governor Dannel P Malloy attended the funeral and a motorcycle cavalcade of 14 police officers from seven departments escorted the cortege to the church.

The pray services were over and the corteges headed to the cemetery.

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Image: A man hugs a crying girl as they leave the funeral of Jessica Rekos at St Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, Connecticut
Photographs: Eric Thayer/Reuters

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Connecticut weeps as it buries 6-yr-olds killed in school

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The national media was standing almost a few kilometers away to get a glimpse of the heart wrenching ceremonies as the Connecticut town continue to bury children killed in the school massacre.

Hundreds of others who wanted to bid farewell to James and Jessica stood far away from the church. The heavily armed police force guarded the privacy and solemnity of the grieving families and their friends.

"A memorial service was held for a child on Monday at the church. Now seven more are scheduled in the coming days," Rev Franics Luke, who occasionally joins the services at the church, said.


Image: The casket of Jessica Rekos is carried from St Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, Connecticut
Photographs: Eric Thayer/Reuters

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Connecticut weeps as it buries 6-yr-olds killed in school

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What struck Rev Franics Luke most was the solidarity among the residents of Connecticut as the tragedy unfolded. "Everyone felt as if the pain is their own. The social consciousness of the people was amazing," Rev Franics Luke, chaplain of the Danbury Hospital, near Newtown, said.

It was his day off on December 14 when 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot his mother and then stormed into the school and killed 20 children and six adults.


Image: Mourners arrive for the funeral service at St Rose of Lima Church
Photographs: George Joseph/Rediff.com

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Connecticut weeps as it buries 6-yr-olds killed in school

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The diocesan officials soon alerted Rev Franics Luke about the incident and asked him to rush to the hospital. Roads were cleared by the police for the ambulances carrying victims of the shooting. As chaplain, he could proceed to the hospital without delay.

When he arrived an ambulance had already brought in four victims of the shootout. But three of them -- two students and a teacher -- had died on their way to the hospital. The fourth victim was shot on the hands and leg.

Rev Franics Luke stood near her saying a prayer and waited along with the hospital staff for more victims to be rushed to the hospital. The waiting continued, but no ambulances came and there were no signs of more victims. Soon, they realised that all the victims died at the scene. Only two people survived the tragedy with injuries.


Image: Reverend Dr Francis Luke Nambiaparambil is seen along with the media crew outside the church
Photographs: George Joseph/Rediff.com

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Connecticut weeps as it buries 6-yr-olds killed in school

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Rev Franics Luke said that a child of a hospital staffer was among those killed. All the employees at the hospital attended the memorial service, he said. A fundraiser for the family attracted huge crowds.

"Such attitude is not seen anywhere else. People did not keep away thinking that it happened to somebody else and we need not bother about it," he said.

At the same time, he lamented that the government will not learn from such tragedies about the need for controlling guns. Guns may not kill but if the persons having guns become mad what will happen, he asked.

The police are yet unclear about the Lanza's possible motive.



Image: The American flag flies at half staff honouring victims of the school shootout in Newtown
Photographs: George Joseph/Rediff.com

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Connecticut weeps as it buries 6-yr-olds killed in school

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Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association, a powerful organisation supporting guns, broke its silence over the tragedy amid calls for gun control, especially a ban on assault weapons.

"The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters -- and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown. Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting," the statement said.

"The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again," it added.

The NRA will hold a major news conference in Washington, DC on Friday.

Established in 1871, the NRA is America's oldest civil rights and sportsmen's group.


Image: Media is gathered outside the St Rose of Lima Church
Photographs: George Joseph/Rediff.com

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