THE first funerals have taken place of former classmates of a Hampshire boy killed when a gunman rampaged through a US school.
Six-year-olds Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner, the youngest victim who celebrated his birthday just two weeks ago, were laid to rest in the shattered community of Newtown, Connecticut, yesterday in scenes destined to be repeated many times over the coming days.
They were fellow pupils of Dylan Hockley, whose family had moved to the town from Eastleigh after dad Ian’s job at IBM was transferred from Hursley to New York.
When disturbed gunman Adam Lanza, who lived opposite the Hockleys, went on the rampage at Sandy Hook primary school, Dylan was among the 20 pupils shot dead.
His older brother Jake, eight, survived the massacre, in which six staff also died.
Former neighbours and friends in Eastleigh spoke of their shock and paid tribute to a “fantastic family” who had left for a bright future.
Prayers were said for the family at their local church, St Nicholas’s in Eastleigh, on Sunday and Advent candles lit for them during the service.
Now Ian and his Americanborn wife, Nicole, who gave up her marketing career to become a full-time mum to her two sons, are trying to come to terms with the tragedy.
A rabbi presided at Noah’s service, and in keeping with Jewish tradition the boy was laid to rest in a simple brown wooden coffin adorned with a Star of David.
Hymns rang out from inside the funeral home where Jack’s service was held.
The boys were being buried a day after the small community of Newtown, already stripping itself of Christmas decorations, came together for a vigil where President Barack Obama said he will use “whatever power” he has to prevent similar massacres.
“What choice do we have?”
he said. “Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?”
Meanwhile education officials were unsure if the school where the massacre happened would ever reopen as nervous pupils and teachers across the US returned to classrooms under tighter security.
Investigators have offered no motive for the shooting, and the community struggled to comprehend what drove 20-year-old Lanza to shoot dead his mother at home in bed Friday morning, drive her car to the school and murder six adults and 20 children.