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Grieving Families Remember Loved Ones Lost In Newtown, CT School Shooting

NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Fighting back tears and struggling to catch his breath, the father of a 6-year-old gunned down in Friday's school shooting in Connecticut told the world about a little girl who loved to draw and was always smiling, and he also reserved surprising words of sympathy for the gunman.

Robbie Parker's daughter Emilie was among the 20 children who died in the one of the worst attacks on schoolchildren in U.S. history. He was one of the first parents to speak publicly about their loss.

1010 WINS' Eileen Lehpamer reports


"She was beautiful. She was blond. She was always smiling,'' he said.

Parker spoke to reporters not long after police released the names and ages of the victims, a simple document that told a horrifying story of loss.

He expressed no animosity, said he was not mad and offered sympathy for family of the man who killed 26 people and himself.

To the man's family, he said, "I can't imagine how hard this experience must be for you.''

He said he struggled to explain the death to Emilie's two siblings, 3 and 4.

"They seem to get the fact that they have somebody they're going to miss very much,'' he said.

Parker said his daughter loved to try new things _ except for new food. And she was quick to cheer up those in need.

"She never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for those she around her,'' he said.

The world is a better place because Emilie was in it, he said.

"I'm so blessed to be her dad,'' he said.

Shooter Adam Lanza's father Peter released a statement on behalf of the family:

"Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those who were injured.  Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy. No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can. We too are asking why. We have cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so. Like so many of you, we are saddened, but struggling to make sense of what has transpired."

A funeral industry representative says funeral directors in Connecticut and outside the state are offering to help funeral homes in western Connecticut plan rites and services for more than two dozen victims of a mass shooting at a Newtown elementary school.

Pasquale Folino, president of the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association, said the industry group met Saturday to mobilize a team of funeral homes and funeral directors to help colleagues in the aftermath of the shootings that killed 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The group represents 220 funeral homes.

He said funeral directors in Connecticut are offering caskets, hearses, staff and other resources to funeral homes in the Newtown area.

Folino says funeral homes from around the United States also are emailing and calling with offers of help.

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(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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