Shootings in Connecticut: Tears, prayers mark Dutchess vigil

Connecticut State Police lead children from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The shooting took the lives of 28 victims. (Dec. 14, 2012)

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About 100 people gathered outside Dutchess Stadium on Friday evening for a tearful candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

The mood was somber in the stadium's front plaza as parents, grandparents and kids huddled in the cold, saying prayers for the 20 children and six adults gunned down by 20-year-old Adam Lanza at Sandy Hill Elementary School; Lanza's mother, a teacher at the school, was found dead at her home.

"I can't wrap my brain around it," said Diana Jansen, a grandmother from Pine Bush. "I don't even know what the words are for it.

"I went from crying to yelling at God. Have you ever yelled at God? I did today."

Jansen said she looked at photos of her own grandchildren, ages 4 and 7, and said she was especially sad for the parents and grandparents who will bury their children in the next few days.

Sherry Casey of Newburgh said she thought carefully about how to explain the massacre to her two daughters, who are 5 and 9 years old.

Her eldest daughter, Paige Casey, "had some tears about it" earlier Friday, Sherry Casey said.

"Some people make bad choices, and today somebody made a really bad choice," Casey eventually told her children before driving to Dutchess Stadium for Friday night's vigil.

After the initial shock of the news wore off, parents found themselves wondering what would happen if their children were put in harm's way. Most acknowledged schools have made strides in recent years to keep students safe, but they said they still worried.

Fred Plate, an 83-year-old retired police officer from Orangeburg, said that much like the reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, society will have to balance freedom and safety.

"There isn't too much you can do to control it," Plate said. "You can't just lock down every public building in the world."

With Caylena Cahill

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