NEWTOWN, Conn.—Bells rang out here and across the country 26 times following a moment of silence on Friday morning, one week after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 children and 6 adults in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy ordered the statewide moment of silence to occur at 9:30 a.m., “exactly one week after the horror began to unfold.” Malloy took part in the symbolic gesture at Edmond Town Hall on Main Street in Newtown as rain poured down outside. Across Main Street, church bells tolled at Trinity Episcopal Church, where the funeral service for 6-year-old Benjamin Wheeler was held the day before.
At the entrance to Sandy Hook Elementary, across the street from the volunteer firehouse where children and their parents were reunited on the day of the shootings, faint bells could be heard in the distance. About 40 people, including several firefighters, stood silently in the rain and wind—so strong that it knocked down two of the 26 Christmas trees that line the road—at one of the many makeshift memorials that dot the small town of 27,000. A therapy dog, one of dozens sent to Newtown to comfort residents in the wake of the shootings, stood with its handler nearby.
Three firefighters from Sandy Hook Fire and Rescue cried while they hugged each other. No one spoke.
Bells could also be heard at Saint Rose of Lima Church on Church Hill Road, where many of the funerals for the victims have been held. Funerals for more victims were scheduled later Friday.
In Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama took part in the moment of silence privately, the White House said.
Online, scores of websites went dark for several minutes to honor the victims.
The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, killed his 52-year-old mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Newtown home before his attack at the school.
After the moment of silence, a Sandy Hook resident walking away from the firehouse said: "Maybe now we can begin to heal."