Newtown holds more funerals as gun control talks heat up

Saying goodbye to the 26 victims of last week's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., has become tragically routine, with five more funerals — including one for a teacher with a Canadian connection — and six wakes planned for today.

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden to meet with police officials for gun violence initiative

A woman stands at a makeshift memorial for victims of a December 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn., on Thursday. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

Saying goodbye to the 26 victims of last week's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., has become tragically routine, with five more funerals and a memorial service — including one for a teacher with a Canadian connection — and six wakes planned for today.

The memorial service for Lauren Rousseau, 30, drew a long line of people. Her father, Gilles Rousseau, is originally from Quebec, and has lived in Connecticut for more than 30 years.

Twenty students, all ages six or seven, along with six adults died in the mass shooting at the school, where Rousseau was a substitute teacher. The gunman entered the unlocked door to Rousseau's classroom and killed her and 16 of her young pupils.

Adam Lanza first killed his mother before breaking into the school and opening fire. He committed suicide inside the school as police moved in on him.

At the funeral for Catherine Hubbard, 6, she was remembered for her constant smile and her love of animals.

Funerals on Thursday were also scheduled for seven-year-old Grace McDonnell and six-year-olds Benjamin Andrew Wheeler, Allison Wyatt and Jesse Lewis. 

In Katonah, N.Y., at the  funeral for teacher Anne Marie Murphy, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said she "brought together a community, a nation, a world, now awed by her own life and death." Her father, Hugh McGowan, said officials told him Murphy died protecting her pupils.

More memorial services are planned for Friday and Saturday.

Newtown still in 'state of shock'

Jon Voket, an associate editor with The Newtown Bee, told CBC News that the community is "still in a state of shock, obviously, but also in a resilient mode of the early stages of recovery."

"People are walking up to people on the street, in the grocery stores ... embracing, shaking hands, acknowledging each other, with the knowledge that perhaps right up the street or around the block one of these beautiful little children is being laid to rest all too soon," Voket said.

According to the Newtown Bee, Gov. Daniel Malloy has declared Friday a day of mourning in Connecticut. There will be a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. ET, and the governor has asked that religious facilities and government buildings equipped with bells ring them 26 times to honour the students and adults slain at the elementary school, the local newspaper reported.

With the emotions of events in Newtown still raw, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden is due to meet with law enforcement officers from around the U.S. on Thursday as he starts work to meet President Barack Obama's call to come up with ways to curb gun violence.

Obama said Wednesday he wants concrete proposals from a group led by Biden no later than January.

At a news conference at the White House, the president said he wants Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban that was on the books from 1994 to 2004. The ban covered specific weapons, including the Colt AR-15, Uzi and TEC-9, and magazines and clips that held more than 10 bullets.

"This time, the words need to lead to action," Obama said, adding he will push legislation "without delay" and urged Congress to hold votes on the proposal early next year.

"The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing," Obama said. "The fact that we can't prevent every act of violence doesn't mean we can't steadily reduce the violence."

Firefighters salute as a hearse passes for the funeral procession for the burial of seven-year-old Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Daniel Gerard Barden on Wednesday. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

On the day Obama announced the gun violence initiative, the Newtown area held at least nine funerals and wakes.

At St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, mourners at back-to-back funerals said goodbye to Daniel Barden, 7, who wanted to become a firefighter, and then Caroline Previdi, 6.

Meanwhile, family, friends and co-workers formed a line around the block to pay their respects to Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, 47. She rushed at the gunman to try to stop him but was killed.

With files from The Associated Press