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.
At the Newtown Library, dozens of people gathered for a meeting of Newtown United, a grassroots community group formed in the wake of the shootings. The topic 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 more difficult to obtain.
There was a rumor that guests from Washington, D.C., would show up. About 10 minutes into the meeting Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Sen.-elect Chris Murphy walked into the room, to applause and surprised looks. They spoke and took questions for about a half-hour.
The school 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 promised he'd send Congress broad proposals for tightening gun laws and curbing violence and pressed Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. He called for stricter background checks for people who seek to buy 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 Lanza, 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.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Allen G. Breed, Helen O'Neill, John Christoffersen, Katie Zezima and Pat Eaton-Robb in Newtown; Michael Melia in Hartford; and Larry Margasak in Washington and AP Business Writer Joshua Freed in Minneapolis.