Cynthia Gubitose said the shooting and its aftermath have jolted what she described as a quintessential ‘‘Norman Rockwell, New England community.’’
‘‘Nobody knew about Sandy Hook,’’ Gubitose said as she placed flowers at a memorial with bouquets stacked chest-high. ‘‘Many of the people that live here like it that way.’’
The symbol of Christmas took on a new meaning in the town, where one memorial featured 26 Christmas trees — one for each victim at the school.
Edward Kish said he bought a Christmas tree two days before the shooting, but hasn’t had the heart to put it up or decorate it.
‘‘I'll still put it up, probably,’’ he said. ‘‘It doesn’t seem right, and it doesn’t seem like Christmas.’’
Mourners from across the country came to offer condolences. A jazz band from Alabama played at the main memorial site as local children played with a team of trained therapy dogs brought in to provide comfort. A coffee-stained sheet of paper listing the stages of grief was taped to the counter of a local doughnut shop.
At the Newtown Library, dozens of people gathered Wednesday for a meeting of Newtown United, a grassroots community group formed in the wake of the shootings. The topic Wednesday was gun legislation, and how the community could push for a ban on assault weapons and other measures to make certain types of guns and ammunition harder to obtain.
There was a rumor that guests from Washington, D.C., would show up. About 10 minutes into the meeting Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator-elect Chris Murphy walked into the room, to applause and surprised looks. They spoke and took questions for about a half hour.
The massacre continued to reverberate around America as citizens and lawmakers debated whether Newtown might be a turning point in the often-polarizing national discussion over gun control.
President Barack Obama pressed Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. He also called for stricter background checks for people who seek to purchase weapons and limited high-capacity clips.
‘‘This time, the words need to lead to action,’’ said Obama, who set a January deadline for the recommendations.
Authorities say the horrific events of Friday began when Lanza shot his mother, Nancy, at their home, and then took her car and some of her guns to the nearby school.
Investigators have found no letters or diaries that could explain the attack.
However, Connecticut’s chief medical examiner, Dr. H. Wayne Carver, told The Hartford Courant he is looking for genetic clues that might explain the behavior, and is working with the University of Connecticut department of genetics.
The Connecticut State Police said Wednesday that a final report on the shooting could be several months away.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers John Christoffersen, Katie Zezima and Tom Hays and Michael Melia in Newtown; John Mone in Stratford and John Fitzgerald in Katonah, N.Y.