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First of shooting victims laid to rest

By Brian Hallenbeck and Anna Isaacs

Publication: theday.com

Published December 17. 2012 12:00PM   Updated December 18. 2012 3:00PM
Richard Perry/The New York Times
A rabbi, right, and Lt. James Perez of the Fairfield Police Department escort Veronique Pozner out of the funeral service Monday in Fairfield for her son, Noah, 6, a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.

Two 6-year-olds were laid to rest Monday in the first funerals for the victims of Friday's shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Dozens of mourners huddled around chairs set up under tents at a gravesite in Newtown Village Cemetery, where a hearse brought the casket bearing the body of first-grader Jack Pinto, one of 20 who perished in the massacre that has stunned this town and focused the attention of media around the world.

The crowd began to disperse around 2:30 p.m. No reporters or photographers were allowed inside the Honan Funeral Home for the early afternoon service, nor were any allowed near the gravesite.

By noon, hundreds of people, many with their heads bowed, walked silently along Main Street, approaching the funeral home from either direction. Adults clutched children by the hand and took their place in the line that spilled down the funeral home's steps and onto the sidewalk.

Men wore overcoats against the chilly mist that at times became a drizzle. A group of young boys sported neckties beneath jerseys emblazoned with a large "N" logo.

A van meant to carry schoolchildren passed; in the back window, a sign read "Empty." Newtown's schools were not in session.

Jack Armstead Pinto's obituary describes him as "an incredibly loving and vivacious young boy."

His family wrote that he will "forever be remembered for the immeasurable joy he brought to all who had the pleasure of knowing him, a joy whose wide reach belied his six short years."

Jack is survived by his parents, Dean and Tricia (Volkmann) Pinto and a brother, Benjamin Pinto.

A service also was held today in Fairfield for Noah Pozner. Noah's twin sister, Arielle, who was assigned to a different first-grade classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School, survived.

Rabbi Yaakov Barros of the South Fallsburg Hebrew Association in New York said the funeral was a traditional Jewish service, in which flowers and other flourishes are shirked for simplicity in mourning.

Instead, white bunches of balloons lined Fairfield's Beach Road, waving in a frigid breeze late Monday morning, guiding the procession of mourners who filed slowly, two by two down the sidewalk into the Abraham L. Green & Son Funeral Home for the memorial service.

"The best thing that you can do is not say anything," said Barros, who attended the funeral, "because anything you say is not adequate."

Other rabbis who attended the funeral said they were touched by the appearance not just of family and friends, but of strangers wishing to express their condolences and share in the Pozner family's grief.

"It felt like the whole room was like one person," said Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht of congregation Beth Israel in Norwalk.

Several marveled afterward at the strength and composure of Noah's mother, who they said made a speech to mourners inside, calling her son her "little man," speaking of his favorite food — tacos — his studiousness, and his response whenever she would say she loved him: "Not as much as I love you."

"He was a child that all of us would like to have," said Rabbi Edgar Gluck of Chesed Shel Emes, a Brooklyn, N.Y., nonprofit that offers assistance preserving Jewish traditions after a death.

A Fairfield police spokesman said Gov. Dannel Malloy attended the funeral.

When the mourners emerged from the funeral home, many wiped tears from their eyes, zipped up their coats and pulled hats over their black yarmulkes in the cold.

Beneath a neon green sign bearing the words "Our hearts are with you Noah," a makeshift memorial adorned a large tree in front of the funeral home — a bouquet of white daisies and baby's breath, teddy bears, a blue toy car, a single red rose.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

a.isaacs@theday.com

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