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Newton mourns Sandy Hook victims, as mayor calls for stricter gun control

Posted by Evan Allen  December 19, 2012 09:06 PM

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Photo by Evan Allen
Kevin Fitzgeranld, Newton Fire Department Bagpiper, plays at Newton's vigil for Sandy Hook

The National Anthem rang out in the War Memorial in Newton as the names of the victims of the Newtown, Conn., massacre rolled across a screen emblazoned with a dove sailing into a bright blue sky.

More than 300 people turned out Wednesday night for a vigil, where Newton Mayor Setti Warren called for residents to send love and prayers to Newtown, and to stand with him in the fight for stronger gun control laws.

“As our nation mourns, more questions than answers arise about how this horrific event took place. As a parent, like many of us in Newton, I feel a special sense of loss as I reflect on the tragedy of last week.” Warren said. “Out of the pain that we all feel for the victims and the victims’ families, we work together on how we can do better.”

On Friday morning, a 20-year-old Connecticut man shot his mother in her home and then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where he shot and killed 20 first-graders and six teachers before turning the gun on himself.

vigilnewtoncrowd.jpgNewton residents brought cards with them to send to Newtown, and everyone in the audience wore simple white ribbons in honor of the victims.

“My letter said that after a big storm, there’s always a rainbow,” said Meredyth Bowman, 10, who is 5th grader in Newton. Meredyth came to the vigil with members of her Girl Scout troop.

“I just want to honor some of the kids,” said Macy Patten, 10, a fellow Girl Scout.

Meredyth’s mother, troop leader Alicia Bowman, said that the girls are planning to make a “trefoil” for the Girl Scouts of Newtown.

According to news reports and the Connecticut Girl Scouts’ website, eight of the little girls killed in the shooting were Girl Scout “Daisies.” Two other Girl Scout families lost sons.

A trefoil is the symbol of Girl Scout Unity. The Girl Scouts organization, said Alicia Bowman, is planning a memorial in January for their members killed in Sandy Hook, and the Newton troop is sending their trefoil.

“It’s the last line of the Girl Scouts Law,” said Bowman. “Be a sister to every Girl Scout.”

The senior troop of Newton, said Bowman, will also send homemade swap badges to Newtown for every Girl Scout in town.

Some said that grief, and the need to end gun violence, brought them to the vigil.

“I’m a mom, and I work with children,” said Wendy Protheroe, before the vigil began. “Kids are a big part of my life. I’m concerned about gun violence, and the access to guns. I know this isn’t really helping the people of the Connecticut town, but it feels like we’re symbolically standing with them.”

In an interview after the vigil, Warren said that he is a member of a coalition with Boston Mayor Menino and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that is dedicated to supporting national gun control measures.

“We should look at what needs to be done, not just on a local level, but on a national level, to prevent tragedy like this from happening again,” he said. “From putting real, strong gun control measures in place that are sensible, to investment in mental health services.”

The news of the Sandy Hook massacre, he said, has been hard on the town, and on him as a father.

“For me, it’s just a tragedy,” he said. “And I feel a great sorrow for the people of Newtown. My thoughts and prayers go out to the citizens. That is a tragedy that could have happened anywhere.”

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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