NEWTOWN, Conn. – Thousands of people visited St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown on Friday night to grieve for the children and adults who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Those unable to enter the crowded church for the special service huddled outside to cry, hug one another and pray for the people who perished. A total of 27 people — including 20 children — died in the shooting at the school Friday morning. Six adults and the shooter also died.
Ashlee Honiker, 16, a student at Newtown High School, said she found out Friday afternoon that a 5-year-old boy, who her best friend baby sat, was one of the victims. She recalled the boy, who she did not identify, as a nice kid. She fears she may soon discover that more kids she knew died in the massacre.
Honiker said she wasn't troubled when her high school was placed on lockdown until she received calls from friends in neighboring towns asking whether she was all right. She attended the vigil to lend support to neighbors in mourning and to the children who might be affected by what they saw, Honiker said. “I think this (vigil) is wonderful. This is a great town,” she said. “It’s good to see people coming out to help the families.”
T.J. Stuart, 25, a volunteer firefighter in Newtown, found out about the shooting while at work. His 4-year-old daughter Kylie was attending the Adventure Center Preschool, located next door to Sandy Hook. He thought the incident might have been at Newtown High School. Kylie was safe and is staying with his in-laws.
Stuart, like most of the town, is still coming to grips with what he called “the worst day in Newtown’s history.”
“I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it,” he said. “You’d never think of something like that happening at an elementary school.”
The community will have to cope and heal “one day at a time,” he said.