Katie Zezima, Associated Press
December 21, 2012, 9:20 AM
When people here speak of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, they use the number 26: the ones killed after Adam Lanza blasted his way into the school.
When the bells of Newtown toll mournfully Friday morning to honor the victims of last week’s shooting rampage, they’ll do so 26 times, for each child and staff member killed.
Rarely do residents mention the first person police said Lanza killed that morning: his mother, Nancy, who was shot in the head four times while she lay in bed.
That makes 27.
A private funeral was held Thursday in New Hampshire for Nancy Lanza, according to Donald Briggs, the police chief in Kinston, N.H., where her funeral was held. About 25 family members attended the ceremony.
In Newtown, where makeshift memorials of stuffed animals, angels, candles, flowers, and balloons have blossomed on patches of grass throughout town, there is only one noticeable tribute to Nancy Lanza. It’s a letter written by a friend on a yellow paper affixed, screwed and shellacked onto a red piece of wood.
“Others now share pain for choices you faced alone; May the blameless among us throw he first stone,” it reads in part.
No one outwardly blames Nancy Lanza for the rampage. But authorities have said the gunman, her 20-year-old son Adam, used the guns she kept at their home to carry out a massacre that became the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history and has stirred lawmakers to call for gun control laws.
Nationwide, churches will ring their bells 26 times at 9:30 Friday morning- exactly a week after the shooting occurred- in memory of the victims. Two gold balloons, one a 2, the other a 6, are tied to a bridge. Handwritten tributes mention 26 snowflakes. “26 angels will guide us,” reads one.
The dearth of tributes to Nancy Lanza underscores the complicated mix of emotions surrounding her after the shooting.
In a small town where multiple funerals are taking place each day, where black-clad mourners stand in lines waiting to say goodbye to another child, many are incredibly angry at Nancy Lanza for not keeping her guns away from her son.
Some view her as a victim, but one whose guns were used to kill first-graders. And others think Nancy Lanza was an innocent victim, one who should be counted and included at memorials.
“It’s a loss of life and,yes, her life mattered,”said Christine Lombardi. “Yes, I do believe she should be included.”
Others in Newtown are weary of the crush of media and have become reluctant to answer questions after such a difficult week. But the subject of marking Nancy Lanza’s death, along with those of the children and teachers killed by her son, seemed mainly to surprise two moms who stopped to place flowers at the memorial at Main and Sugar streets with their two grammar-school aged girls.
They paused, appeared bewildered, and looked at each other for a moment. Then one quietly said, “No,no,” and they each took a girl’s hand and led them away.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Michael Melia, John Christoffersen and David Klepper in Newtown; Jim Fitzgerald in Katonah, N.Y.; and Frederic J. Frommer in Washington.
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