First funerals held for Conn. shooting victims

Updated at 7:06 p.m. ET

NEWTOWN, Conn. A grief-stricken Newtown began laying to rest the littlest victims of the school massacre, starting with two 6-year-old boys -- one of them a big football fan, the other described as a whip-smart youngster whose twin sister survived the rampage.

Nov. 13, 2012 photo provided by the family via The Washington Post shows Noah Pozner, 6
Nov. 13, 2012 photo provided by the family via The Washington Post shows Noah Pozner, 6
AP/Family Photo

Family, friends and townspeople streamed to two funeral homes to say goodbye to Jack Pinto, who loved the New York Giants and idolized their star wide receiver Victor Cruz, and Noah Pozner, who liked to figure out how things worked mechanically.

A rabbi presided at Noah's service, which was attended by Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, and in keeping with Jewish tradition, the boy was laid to rest in a simple brown wooden casket adorned with a Star of David. Outside the funeral home, well-wishers placed two teddy bears, a bouquet of white flowers and a red rose at the base of an old maple tree.

Jack Pinto, 6, a victim of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Rex Features via AP Images

"If Noah had not been taken from us, he would have become a great man. He would been a wonderful husband and a loving father," Noah's uncle Alexis Haller told mourners, according to remarks he provided to The Associated Press. Both services were closed to the news media.

Haller described a smart, funny and mischievous child who loved animals and Mario Brothers video games, and liked to tease his sisters by telling them he worked in a taco factory.

"It is unspeakably tragic that none of us can bring Noah back," Haller said. "We would go to the ends of the earth to do so, but none of us can. What we can do is carry Noah within us, always. We can remember the joy he brought to us. We can hold his memory close to our hearts. We can treasure him forever."

Noah's twin sister, Arielle, who was assigned to a different classroom, survived the killing frenzy by 20-year-old Adam Lanza that left 20 children and six adults dead last week at Sandy Hook Elementary in an attack so horrifying that authorities could not say whether the school would ever reopen.

At Jack's service, which Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman attended, hymns rang out from inside the funeral home. A mourner, Gwendolyn Glover, said that Jack was in an open casket and that the service was a message of comfort and protection, particularly for other children.

"The message was: You're secure now. The worst is over," she said.

The funeral program bore a quotation from the Book of Revelation: "God shall wipe away all tears. There shall be no more death. Neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain."

Jack was described in the program as "an incredibly loving and vivacious young boy, appreciated by all who knew him for his lively and giving spirit and steely determination" who enjoyed baseball, skiing and wrestling in addition to the Giants.

"One speaker at the cemetery said Jack would be throwing a football in heaven, knocking halos off angels," Jerry Reinholz, who attended the funeral, told CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod. "Everyone laughed at that."

A fir tree opposite the funeral home was strung with paper angels carrying the names of everyone who died, including the teachers.

Gov. Malloy called on Monday for a moment of silence and for churches to ring bells Friday, exactly one week after the shooting. Speaking to reporters in Hartford, Malloy asked churches ring their bells 26 times to honor the victims.

Veronika Pozner waves to the assembled press as she leaves after a funeral service for her son, 6-year-old Noah Pozner, Dec. 17, 2012, in Fairfield, Conn.
Veronika Pozner waves to the assembled press as she leaves after a funeral service for her son, 6-year-old Noah Pozner, Dec. 17, 2012, in Fairfield, Conn.
AP Photo

At both funeral homes, people wrestled with the same questions as the rest of the country -- what steps could and should be taken to prevent anything like the massacre from happening again.

"If people want to go hunting, a single-shot rifle does the job, and that does the job to protect your home, too. If you need more than that, I don't know what to say," Ray DiStephan said outside Noah's funeral.

He added: "I don't want to see my kids go to schools that become maximum-security fortresses. That's not the world I want to live in, and that's not the world I want to raise them in."

With more funerals planned this week, the road ahead for Newtown, which had already started purging itself of Christmas decorations in a joyful season turned mournful, was clouded.

"I feel like we have to get back to normal, but I don't know if there is normal anymore," said Kim Camputo, mother of two children, 5 and 10, who attend a different school. "I'll definitely be dropping them off and picking them up myself for a while."

With Sandy Hook Elementary still designated a crime scene, State police Lt. Paul Vance said that it could be months before police turn the school back over to the district. The people of Newtown, consumed by loss, were not ready to address its future.

"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."

One funeral home, Horan's, will hold 11 ceremonies from now until Christmas, Axelrod reports. Funeral Director Shauna Molloy said it's a lot for small children to handle.

"I think some do [understand what happened]," Molloy said. "I don't know if they can fully -- I mean they are so little. You know, unfortunately, they probably understand more than they should."

A man, center, reacts while others shovel dirt onto the grave of Noah Pozner, a six-year-old killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, was laid to rest at B'nai Israel Cemetery, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, in Monroe, Conn. Authorities say gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home on Friday and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life.
A man, center, reacts while others shovel dirt onto the grave of Noah Pozner, a six-year-old killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, was laid to rest at B'nai Israel Cemetery, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, in Monroe, Conn. Authorities say gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home on Friday and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life.
AP Photo/Julio Cortez


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