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Claremont, Surrounding Communities, Honor Newtown's Victims

About 60 people honored the 26 victims of the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Before the start of Friday night’s prayer vigil at the Claremont United Church of Christ, Associate Pastor Eileen Gebbie addressed the point of having the gathering to one acquaintance who was grappling with questions of why.

“I was asked why do this? What does this do?” Gebbie told some 60 people who filled the pews of the Claremont church. “We’re together. By being together, the pain, the confusion, the anger, the rage is not allowed quite as much ground in our hearts.”

There was much anger and confusion following Friday morning’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Authorities say a man entered the school that morning and opened fire, killing 26 people. Twenty of those were children, investigators said.

Pastor Gebble, who briefly passed around a microphone to anyone who volunteered to speak, sought to give people a way to voice their pain.

One woman expressed anger over the access to assault weapons. A man volunteered to lead an effort to form a support group to those who feel a violence welling up inside. The pain of the day’s news was evident on the faces of those who sat silently in the church chapel.

Kimberly Neal, of Claremont, and her husband Jason attended with their sons, Ryan, 6 and Sean, 9.

“For me, I have a kindergartner,” Kimberly said.

“If they can’t say safe at school …” she said as her sentence trailed off. She heard about the shooting at work. Her first thought was to wonder if she should get her boys out of school. She decided against it. But she and her husband discussed what they should tell their boys.

Neither is a member of the Claremont United Church of Christ, but both wanted to give the youngsters, and themselves, an outlet.

“We’ve been through this before,” Jason said. “But we’re talking about, in essence, babies. I posted this on Facebook. My question is why? We’ll probably never have answers to that.”

Friday's vigil ended with a prayer as attendees held candles. And everyone was encouraged to stay as long as they needed too, Gebbie told the crowd.

Anyone interested in contacting the church may call (909) 626-1201.

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