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Sleepy town shocked by shooting massacre


Natalie O'Brien

People grieve outside the overflow area of a vigil at the Saint Rose of Lima church in Newtown, Connecticut. Click for more photos

Scores dead in Connecticut school massacre

Students and staff at elementary school in Connecticut among those dead in the worst toll since Virginia Tech in 2007. Photo: Reuters

Up until a few days ago, the biggest crime being reported in sleepy Newtown, Connecticut was the vandalism of the historic cemetery overlooking Elm Drive.

Residents were shocked by the vandalism of the old headstones in the Newtown Village Cemetary, which was reported last week in the town's 133-year old newpaper, The Newtown Bee.

According to newspaper reports, the most common crimes reported the 27,000-strong town, which was the scene of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on Friday, related to drunk driving or road crashes.

Newtown according to the last census had 95 per cent white population, 8325 households and 6776 families with a median income of around $101,000.

The rural and factory production town is about 130km north-east of New York City, and was originally known as Quanneapague when it was bought from the Pohtatuck Indians in 1705. It was incorporated in 1711 and given the symbol of a rooster weathervane.

Residents described the town as pictureseque, beautiful and a place where almost nothing happens.

It is just over 156 square kilometres in size and has a quaint New England style which features many original buildings and large sprawling homes dominating its wide leafy streets in a mix of architectural eras including Colonial and Tudor Revival as when the American Foursquare.

One of the town's most famous residents was James Brunot, the man who in 1946 took a word game that had been invented in the town and developed it into one of the world's most popular and enduring games - Scrabble - producing the first sets from his living room.

A survey for residents being run by the Newtown Bee for its last edition of the year was asking what they would remember most from 2012 and what their New Year resolutions will be?"

The answers which were to be published on December 28 will almost certainly have a different answer now.

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