Newtown Marks Christmas Amid Victim Tributes

Newtown Marks Christmas Amid Victim Tributes

Newtown has marked Christmas amid snow-covered teddy bears and other tributes left to honour the victims of the massacre that took the lives of 20 children and six adults.

The outpouring of support for the close-knit community continued through Christmas, with visitors arriving with cards, handmade snowflakes and sympathy.

"We know that they'll feel loved. They'll feel that somebody actually cares," said Treyvon Smalls, a 15-year-old who came to Newtown on Christmas Eve with hundreds of cards and paper snowflakes from mourners around the state.

At the Trinity Episcopal Church, the sounds of a children's choir greeted crowds of several hundred people attending Christmas services.

The services took on a celebratory tone, with Pastor Kathie Adams-Shepherd leading the congregation in praying "that the joy and consolation of the wonderful counsellor might enliven all who are touched by illness, danger, or grief, especially all those families affected by the shootings in Sandy Hook".

On Christmas Day, out-of-town police officers took over patrols so local police could take a holiday break from the horror and sadness.

"It's a nice thing that they can use us this way," said Ted Latiak, a police detective from Greenwich, Connecticut.

At St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, which eight of the young shooting victims attended, the priest told parishioners at a Christmas Day Mass that "today is the day we begin everything all over again".

Recalling the events of December 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Reverend Monsignor Robert Weiss said: "We know Christmas in a way we never ever thought we would know it. We need a little Christmas, and we've been given it."

Police say the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, killed his mother in her bed before his rampage at Sandy Hook, and killed himself as he heard police officers arriving.

Authorities have yet to give a theory about his motive.

The guns used in the shooting, including a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle, had been purchased legally by his mother, Nancy Lanza, a gun enthusiast.

The second-deadliest school shooting in US history has reignited the debate over the nation's gun laws.

The National Rifle Association has called for armed guards to be placed in every American school in order to protect students from future attacks.

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