Mourners Raise A Light Against the Darkness

On Tuesday afternoon, Perry Kinard, of Long Island, paused at the memorial with his uncle to play "Amazing Grace" on his violin in the cold, damp air. On his guitar, Kinard played a song, "Remember Me," that he had composed in memory of the 20 first-grade students and six women gunned down Friday morning at the school.

Kinard said he was inspired to write the song after seeing a photograph of Noah Pozner, who had loved to read and was described by his mother at his funeral Monday as a "rambunctious little maverick, who was smart as a whip."

"One of the kids caught my eye, Noah, so I dedicate this song to him," Kinard said. "I don't know why ... light was just on him, the way he was smiling, it was like there's something different about that kid, he's a true soldier."  

Kinard said he decided to write the song Friday, shortly after hearing of the shooting on his way home from work.

"I was shocked to hear that this random dude just shot these kids and these teachers. I was just like seriously this is ... that's crazy. ... Why would you do that? ... Innocent people that never did no harm to you," Kinard said. "I was in tears."

Kinard said he couldn't sleep that night and sat on the side of his bed in the dark, thinking.

"During the night, everything just came to my head and I wrote down everything, played it out on my guitar, wrote a song," Kinard said.

One family visiting the memorial said they understood what it was like to lose a family member to violence.

Antoinette Neil-Griffith, of Long Island, said her family always grieves around Thanksgiving. Her brother was murdered three years ago when he was robbed one night returning to his car. Her husband also had a brother who was murdered.

"And now with this, it just brought back a lot of memories," Neil-Griffith said. "And so it's a question: Why would a person kill all these kids? They're so innocent."

Neil-Griffith, a psychotherapist, said that she and her husband took their children — aged 16, 12 and 5 — out of school early Tuesday. Her 5-year-old son, Madison, wanted to place two of his teddy bears at the memorial.

"I said pick two of your favorites and he picked them out and we lit a candle, said a prayer, and he started to cry a little while ago," Neil-Griffith said. "And I said, 'You're doing a very good thing by donating stuffed animals. It's a good gesture from your heart and, you know, now they're with Uncle Calvin and they're angels and, you know, you're part of that.'"

Neil-Griffith's 16-year-old, Noah, said it was scary because his brother is about the same age as the first-graders who died at Sandy Hook Elementary. Since the shooting, there has been discussion in his school on Long Island about safety procedures.

"I heard my principal is going to practice it after Christmas break," Noah Griffith said.

Down the street from the memorial, Kathi Schapp of Torrington tried to help by bringing her golden retriever to town. She and a friend brought their dogs, which work as therapy dogs at hospitals, nursing homes and working with children.

"Not in this capacity, you know. Who ever would have thought that we'd have something like this where we'd be needed," Schapp said. "This community needs healing. ... I felt this was something I could give to the community. You know, maybe get someone to smile that who hasn't smiled since Friday."

Cruz Visits

One of the first funerals to be held was Monday for Jack Pinto, a big fan of the New York Giants football team. On Tuesday, Giants receiver Victor Cruz visited the home of the 6-year-old who was buried in a replica Cruz jersey.

Several elementary school-age children played touch football in the front yard of his family's home Tuesday and many wore Giants jerseys or Newtown football or wrestling shirts as they laughed, smiled and hugged.

The children and their families left after several hours. Kids carried autographed Giants footballs and jerseys.

About 45 minutes later, Cruz left the home in an SUV and an escort of five police cruisers, sirens blaring. He later tweeted "much love to the entire Pinto family. Great people with huge hearts."

'Day Of Mourning'

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called for a "Day of Mourning" Friday and a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m., about the time of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary. He has asked houses of worship and government buildings to ring bells 26 times at that half-hour.

"Though we will never know the full measure of sorrow experienced by these families, we can let them know that we stand with them during this difficult time," Malloy said.

Malloy has written a letter to the governor of every state asking them to join with Connecticut in reflecting on the lives lost in Newtown.

"Mourning this tragedy has extended beyond Newtown, beyond the borders of Connecticut, and has spread across the nation and the world," Malloy said.  "On behalf of the State of Connecticut, we appreciate the letters and calls of support that have been delivered to our state and to the family members during their hour of need."

Courant staff writers Jenny Wilson, Shawn Beals and Josh Kovner contributed to this story. A report from the Associated Press also is included.