A family awaits funeral services Wednesday for slain teacher Victoria Soto, 27, at Lordship Community Church in Stratford, Conn.(Photo: John Moore, Getty Images)
NEWTOWN, Conn. -- The magnitude of the Sandy Hook Elementary School
massacre continued to bear down on this small town Wednesday as eight
families held services for victims.
Across Newtown and surrounding
areas, makeshift memorials grew and police lights, dark hearses, and
long funeral processions - now a familiar sight - passed through town
for a third straight day. Police also continued to dig into what led to
Sandy Hook Elementary, Gene Rosen, 69, recalled the victims and the
time he spent with six children who he believes witnessed the murder of
their teacher, Victoria Soto.
"Two boys started crying furiously
and saying 'We can't go back to school, we can't go back to school - our
teacher is gone,'" said Rosen who brought the children inside his home
after finding them on his front lawn shortly Friday morning. "I was so
overwhelmed I could not take in what they were saying."
Lanza, 20, carried out a shooting attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School
that left 20 students and six adults dead. He also killed his mother
earlier in the day.
On Wednesday, mourners attended funerals and
burials for Soto, 27, and students Charlotte Bacon, 6; Caroline Previdi,
6; and Daniel Barden, 7. The families of students Benjamin Wheeler,
Catherine Hubbard, Allison Wyatt, all 6, and school Principal Dawn
Hochsprung, 47, also held visitation hours.
The horror of the day
remains with Rosen, who said he had just fed his cats and was getting
ready to drive to Sandy Hook Diner when he spotted two boys and four
girls as he walked down his driveway.
"They looked mortified," Rosen said. "They seemed out of breath as if they had been running, and they were crying."
walking them inside his home, he gave the tiny survivors his
grandchildren's toys to play. Soon, the details of what they witnessed
came pouring out.
"A boy said, 'He had a big gun and a little
gun,'" Rosen recalled. "A girl said, 'There was blood in her mouth and
she fell to the ground.'"
Working with a bus driver, Rosen called
the children's parents who later came to his home. He said he's hoping
when the time is right he will be reunited with the children and their
parents who still face days of funerals.
Fourteen miles away from
the school, in Woodbury, hundreds of mourners, including Connecticut
Gov. Dannel Malloy, paid their respects to Hochsprung, who officials say
tried to confront Lanza.
Outside Munson-Lovetere Funeral Home,
cool air kicked up dust as frigid weather kept those waiting in line
shivering. Some cried as they huddled together in jackets and under
shared quilts. Others sipped hot chocolate and ate donuts passed out
under a nearby tent.
Many passed the time talking about
Hochsprung's love of children, her years of experience in Connecticut
school systems, and her plans with her husband to retire in a home they
Meanwhile, police continued their investigation
into what caused Lanza to carry out the killings. Officials are focusing
some of their attention on a damaged computer recovered from his
However, it could take weeks to determine if the
computer will yield any clues to what prompted the attack, a federal law
enforcement official said.
The hard-drive, seized in a weekend search of the home, has been sent to an FBI lab in Quantico, Va., for examination.
official, who has been briefed on the matter, but is not authorized to
comment publicly, said authorities were only "mildly optimistic" that
the examination could answer could answer crucial questions about the
20-year-old activities in the days before the assaults and why he
targeted the school, students and staffers.