NEWTOWN, Connecticut -- With security stepped up and families still on edge in Newtown, a 6-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl were laid to rest Tuesday, the latest in a long, almost unbearable procession of funerals. A total of 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S history.
At St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown, back-to-back funerals were held for first-graders James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos, the first of eight to be held in the coming days at the church.
As mourners gathered outside, a motorcade led by police motorcycles arrived for the funeral of little James, who especially loved recess and math, and whose family described as a "numbers guy" who couldn't wait until he was old enough to order a foot-long Subway sandwich.
The service had not yet concluded when mourners began arriving for the funeral of Jessica, who loved horses and was counting the years until she turned 10, when her family had promised her a horse of her own. For Christmas, she had asked Santa for new cowgirl boots and hat.
"We are devastated, and our hearts are with the other families who are grieving as we are," her parents, Rich and Krista Rekos, said in a statement.
Traffic in front of the church slowed to a crawl as police directed vehicles into the church parking lot. At one point a school bus carrying elementary school students became stuck in the traffic. The children pressed their faces into the windows, sadly watching as mourners assembled at the church.
Margarita Rosniak and her 10-year-old daughter, Charlotte, watched from the sidewalk as people entered the church for Mattioli's funeral. They had traveled from California for a Christmas vacation in New York and came to Newtown to join the residents in their grief.
Clutching her daughter close, Margarita Rosniak spoke of sympathizing with the parents. Her daughter says she plans to do a school project on the massacre. She asks, "What was the point of it? They're just little kids."
Gunman Adam Lanza shot his mother Friday, then headed to Sandy Hook Elementary where he killed 20 children and six adults, and himself.
Security remained high, and the small, affluent Connecticut community was still on edge as the rest of the country prepared for the Christmas holidays.
"There's going to be no joy in school," said 17-year-old P.J. Hickey. "It really doesn't feel like Christmas anymore." But he added, "This is where I feel the most at home. I feel safer here than anywhere else in the world."
In the middle of town, an ever-growing memorial has become a pilgrimage site for strangers who want to pay their respect.
One man told CBS Station WCBS why he visited: "Because I'm a dad with four beautiful daughters, when I found out it broke my heart. It's hard to sleep, I don't know how to feel."
In a sign of investors distancing themselves from gun makers, private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management announced it would sell its stake in major arms manufacturer Freedom Group. It said 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."
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.
Sandy Hook Elementary will remain closed indefinitely.
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.