A memorial was held to mourn the loss of two Newtown shooting victims, both with local ties. Our John Wagner has more on the service at the Church of Saint John the Evangelist, near the Connecticut border.
DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y. -- Friday's tragic shooting spree is hitting the Village of Pawling hard. It's less than 20 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary. But they’re not just close in geography, but also in grief.
Seven-year-old Daniel Barden, the son of a Pawling Elementary School teacher, was killed. As was Mary Sherlach, the daughter in law of Pawling Elementary’s longtime principal, Jay Sherlach.
"It's very sad for the community as a whole, for her students, and her classroom, are going to struggle with this for a long time and try to comprehend what she's going through," said Glenn Carey, Village of Pawling former mayor.
“They're a very nice family, a very religious family, and we love them very much," said Jerry Basso, a friend of the Sherlach family.
In this quiet village, so close and so similar to Newtown, churchgoers say in these times of grief there are still reasons to continue on.
"We have to forgive and keep our faith and go on, and I guess that's all we can do," said Pat Schurr, a village of Pawling resident.
"I believe that because of their innocence, they certainly the children are with their God in heaven, not because I said it, because Jesus said lay down your life for your friends, and these teachers, these counselors, these adults laid down their lives for the children," said Rev. John Duff, Church of St. John the Evangelist.
Pawling Elementary released a statement requesting prayer for the Barden family, saying, "Our school building plans will be to have our routines be very normal and to remove any indication of adult stress away from our young students so that they know they are safe."
But some locals say changes must be made outside of the classroom.
"I think there needs to be an assessment, not only of just guns, but of the whole picture here, so we can do our best to keep this from happening again," said Carey.
And as many question motives, the community will continue to mourn. Daniel Barden will be laid to rest on Wednesday in Newtown, and Mary Sherlach on Friday in Trumbull, Connecticut.
"Even if you didn't know them, people throughout the country are heartbroken, I don't think there's a person in this country that hasn't shed a tear for this," said Schurr.