NEWTOWN, Connecticut (AP) — Most children in Newtown returned to school for the first time Tuesday, as the toll of funerals for the 26 dead continued on a gray, wet day. The national debate on gun control sharpened as a prominent investor said it would sell shares in the company that makes the rifle thought to be used in Friday’s shooting.
At least one funeral was planned for one of the 20 young students — 6-year-old Jessica Rekos — as well as several wakes, including one for teacher Victoria Soto, who has been praised as a hero for sacrificing herself to save several students in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
Security remained high, and the small, affluent Connecticut community was still on edge.
Private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management announced it would sell its stake in major arms manufacturer Freedom Group, saying in a statement, “It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level.”
And the mystery of why a smart but severely withdrawn 20-year-old, Adam Lanza, shot his mother to death in bed before rampaging through Sandy Hook Elementary, killing 20 children ages 6 and 7, was as deep as ever.
The first two children, including the youngest victim, were buried Monday, the first of a long, almost unbearable procession of funerals as the rest of the country prepared for the Christmas holidays.
Classes resumed Tuesday for Newtown schools except those at Sandy Hook, where the school will remain closed indefinitely.
“It’s the right thing to do. You have to send your kids back. But at the same time I’m worried,” said Dan Capodicci, whose 10-year-old daughter attends another local school. “We need to get back to normal.”
Investigators say Lanza had no ties to the school he attacked, and they have found no letters or diaries that could explain why he targeted it. He forced into the school shortly after its front door locked as part of a new security measure. He wore all black and is believed to have used a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle, a civilian version of the military’s M-16. Versions of the AR-15 were outlawed in the U.S. under the 1994 assault weapons ban, but the law expired in 2004.
Debora Seifert, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said both Lanza and his mother fired at shooting ranges and visited ranges together.
At the White House on Monday, spokesman Jay Carney said curbing gun violence is a complex problem that will require a “comprehensive solution.” He did not mention specific proposals to follow up on President Barack Obama’s call for “meaningful action.”
New York City’s billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, perhaps the most outspoken advocate for gun control in U.S. politics, again pressed Obama and Congress to toughen gun laws and tighten enforcement.
“If this doesn’t do it,” he asked, “what is going to?”
At least one senator, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, said Monday that the attack has led him to rethink his opposition to the ban on assault weapons. And West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who is an avid hunter and lifelong member of the powerful National Rifle Association, said it’s time to move beyond the political rhetoric and begin an honest discussion about reasonable restrictions on guns.
In Newtown on Monday, minds were on mourning.
Two funeral homes filled for Jack Pinto and the youngest victim, Noah Pozner, who turned 6 just two weeks ago..
A rabbi presided at Noah’s service, and in keeping with Jewish tradition, the boy was laid to rest in a simple brown wooden casket with a Star of David on it.
“I will miss your perpetual smile, the twinkle in your dark blue eyes, framed by eyelashes that would be the envy of any lady in this room,” Noah’s mother, Veronique Pozner, said at the service, according to remarks the family provided to The Associated Press. Both services were closed to the news media.
Noah’s twin, Arielle, who was assigned to a different classroom, survived the killing frenzy.
At 6-year-old Jack Pinto’s Christian service, hymns rang out from inside the funeral home, where the boy lay in an open casket.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.