Funerals for two of the victims in Newtown have been held. The remaining victims are to be laid to rest in the coming days as the US struggles to comprehend the tragedy and lawmakers look for solutions to gun violence.
After three days of public commemorations in the small Connecticut town, families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims proceeded with funeral arrangements on Monday.
The funeral for the youngest victim in the mass shooting, Noah Pozner, who had recently turned six years old, was held early Monday afternoon. The funeral for his classmate, Jack Pinto, followed soon after.
"It was very humbling just to hear how big of a fan he was, for them to think about putting my jersey on him for the services," Cruz told the New York daily Newsday. He had spoken with Pinto's parents over the telephone on Sunday.
"It shows you how much of an effect you have on kids…They idolize you...It really showed me how real it is to be a role model."
Funeral arrangements for the remaining victims have not yet been released.
Newtown resident Adam Lanza, 20, stormed the grade school early Friday morning. Within minutes, he had shot dead 20 children and five adults, among them the school principal and school psychologist. The shooter then took his own life. His first victim in the shooting was Lanza's mother, whom he killed at their shared home before going to the school.
Local police have refused to speculate about a motive until they have concluded their investigation.
Gun supporters speak up
A senator known for his support of gun rights on Monday broke the silence among America's gun lobbyists - the bloc has, until now, refrained from comment amidst politicians' calls for action.
"Millions and millions of people are proud gun owners, and they do it responsibly," Senator Joe Manchin said while appearing on the weekday MSNBC program "Morning Joe."
The Democrat from West Virginia pledged to work with the influential gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA), toward a solution that would protect US citizens from future violence. He himself is an NRA member. However, Manchin said that sensible dialogue must begin with a reassurance to gun owners that they won't lose their right to bear arms.
Manchin's television appearance followed calls for action by politicians, most notably from California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. She said that she was planning to bring a proposal before Congress in January that would ban assault weapons sales.
US President Barack Obama avoided directly mentioning gun reform during two addresses during the weekend, but did hint at the need for change.
"No single law or set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can't be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this," he said at a Sunday vigil in Newtown.
Approximately 47 percent of US households own a gun.
The school shooting in Newtown was the second-most deadly in US history. The worst such incident remains the Virginia Tech University shooting in 2007, when a student killed 32 people on campus before taking his own life.
kms/sej (Reuters, AP, dpa)