By: CNN Wire
With memories of last week’s school massacre still hauntingly fresh, most students in Newtown will return to the classroom Tuesday with their sense of normalcy shattered.
They’ll see more police and more counselors in their buildings. But nothing can erase what happened to 20 other students across town at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Survivors from Sandy Hook won’t return. Their school is still a crime scene.
It’s not clear when they’ll go back to class, but when they do it’ll be at a different school in neighboring Monroe, Connecticut.
As investigators dig deeper into what led to this mass tragedy, two more victims — a pair of 6-year-olds who lives were taken far earlier than anyone ever imagined — will be buried Tuesday.
Meanwhile, more details about the gunman are slowly emerging. And under the cloud of national mourning, a renewed debate about gun control is heating up.
A former director of security for Newtown Public Schools shed new light Monday night about the gunman, Adam Lanza.
Richard Novia said Lanza had Asperger’s syndrome, based on documents as well as conversations with Lanza’s mother, who was killed shortly before the Sandy Hook massacre.
Novia said as part of hisjob, which he left in 2008, he would be informed of students who might pose problems to themselves or others for whatever reason.
He also said he received “intake information” — which he said “is common for any students troubled or impaired or with disabilities.” The idea was to keep track of and help students who may need it.
However, Novia said he never thought Lanza was a threat and certainly never thought he was capable of such violence.
Russ Hanoman, a friend of Lanza’s mother, previously told CNN that Lanza had Asperger’s syndrome and that he was “very withdrawn emotionally.”
But CNN has not been able to independently confirm whether Lanza was diagnosed with autism or Asperger’s syndrome, a higher-functioning form of autism.
Many experts say neither Asperger’s nor autism can be blamed for the rampage.
“There is absolutely no evidence or any reliable research that suggests a linkage between autism and planned violence,” the Autism Society said in a statement. “To imply or suggest that some linkage exists is wrong and is harmful to more than 1.5 million law-abiding, nonviolent and wonderful individuals who live with autism each day.”
What happened in Newtown should never happen again.
Advocates on both sides of the gun control debate agree on that sentiment. But they’re at staunch odds about how to turn words into reality.
The grassroots group Newtown United is sending a delegation to Washington on Tuesday to meet with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence as well as families from July’s movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado.
The group, which formed out of Newtown on Sunday, aims to create meaningful dialogue — both locally and beyond — about what may have led to the tragedy.
A series of national polls conducted shortly after the Newtown shootings suggest more Americans want stricter gun control:
In a Washington Post/ABC News poll, 54% of adults favor stricter gun control laws in the country, while 43% oppose.
And a new CBS News poll indicates 57% of Americans back stricter gun laws, the highest percentage in a decade; 30% think gun laws should be kept as they are.
However, less than half of the respondents — 42% — think stricter gun laws would have helped prevent the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia and “proud gun owner,” said he’s now committed to “dialogue that would bring a total change” after what happened in Newtown.
“Who would have ever thought, in America or anywhere in the world, that children would be slaughtered?” he said. “It’s changed me.”
The debate is playing out not just in Newtown and Washington, but across the United States.
John Licata told CNN’s iReport there needs to be better vetting before people buy guns, and assault weapons should be banned — something Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, says she’ll propose once the new Congress convenes in January.
But some say shooting illustrates the need for more armed guards in schools. CNN iReporter Jameson Riley, a gun owner, said recent mass shootings have made him consider getting a concealed weapon permit.
“I have a 2-year-old daughter, and she is the light of my life,” he said. “And I would like to protect her.”
Two very premature funerals
While adults and children try to move on, two more 6-year-olds will be laid to rest Tuesday.
Jessica Rekos was obsessed with horses — horse books, horse movies, drawing horses and writing stories about them. She was eagerly anticipating a pair of cowgirl boots for Christmas.
Jessica will be buried on Tuesday.
As her relatives grieve, they are also “trying to help her brother Travis understand why he can’t play with his best friend,” her family said.
Charlotte Bacon was a bundle of energy under her distinctive red curls. She also loved school and dresses, her grandmother told CNN affiliate WCCO in Minnesota.
Charlotte, 6, will also be buried Tuesday.
The series of funerals will carry on for days. Some residents in this emotionally drained community plan to attend multiple funerals this week.