NEWTOWN, Conn. - The chiming of bells reverberated throughout Newtown on Friday, commemorating one week since the crackle of gunfire in a schoolhouse killed 20 children and six adults in a massacre that has shaken the community - and the nation - to its core.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy gathered with other officials in rain and wind on the steps of the Edmond Town Hall as the bell rang 26 times in memory of each life lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The gunman killed his mother before the massacre, and himself afterward. Officials didn't make any formal remark.
Though the massacre does not rank as the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history - that happened at Virginia Tech - the tender age of the victims and the absence of any apparent motive has struck at Americans' hearts and minds.
The White House said President Obama privately observed the moment of silence.
Traffic stopped in the streets outside the town hall in Newtown early Friday as bells rang out to honor the dead.
Malloy, taking deep breaths with his hands folded in front of him, was joined by the Newtown superintendent of schools, lawmakers, and other officials as bells rang out at the nearby Trinity Episcopal Church.
"When I heard the 26 bells ring, it just melted my soul," said Kerrie Glassman, of Sandy Hook, who said she knew seven of the victims.
Among those who gathered in Newtown was a group of 13 survivors of the 2005 school shooting on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota. The group drove nearly 1,500 miles to support and comfort the families and survivors. They brought gifts intended to bring a message of resilience and hope, including a plaque that survivors of the 1999 Columbine shooting gave to them.
The chiming of bells reverberated throughout the nation, and there were observances around the world.
Newtown schools Superintendent Janet Robinson said that consolidating the first-grade classes from Sandy Hook Elementary is part of the process of preparing for the students' return Jan. 3 to a refurbished middle school in Monroe. She said that most of the classes will remain intact, except the first grade where 20 students were killed. She said one of the three classes has a single remaining student.