Connecticut Shooting: Interfaith Memorial Service Honors Victims in 'Darkest Days of Our Community'

President Obama met with victims' families before the service.

ByABC News
December 16, 2012, 7:48 AM

Dec. 16, 2012— -- Mourners packed the Newtown High School auditorium with a sense of resilience and a vow to never forget the 20 first graders and six adults whose lives were lost in an unthinkable act of violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"We needed this. We needed to be together, here in this room, in the gymnasium, outside the doors of this school, in living rooms around the world," said Rev. Matt Crebbin, senior minister of the Newtown Congregational Church. "These darkest days of our community shall not be the final word heard from us."

Twenty-six candles rested on stage in front of the presidential podium, a reminder of each of the lives lost.

President Obama Visits Newtown

President Obama, who met with the victims' families privately before the memorial service, tried to console the crowd, speaking as both the president and a parent.

"I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation," the president said. "I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope it helps to know you are not alone ... and that all across this land we have wept with you."

Obama also met with first responders before the memorial service to offer his gratitude for their service.

As they entered the auditorium before the ceremony, emergency responders received a standing ovation and hugs for their support after what has undoubtedly been the three most difficult days Newtown has ever faced.

Parents held their children close and kissed them before the ceremony began, a reminder of the fragility of the life lost during the senseless act of violence that shattered the town on Friday.

The evening interfaith service came after a rollercoaster day. Parishioners attending midday mass at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church received a shock when they were told to evacuate after a church official became aware of a credible threat.

About 1,000 people were gathered inside the church at the time observing one of four memorial services being held there.

Witnesses said police entered the church and told parishioners that a threat had been made against the church and the surrounding area and that everyone had to leave immediately.

More than a dozen state troopers armed with assault rifles entered the church's education center next to the church, but after a short time it was determined that threat was over.

Brian Wallace, director of communications for the Diocese of Bridgeport, said that after the massacre on Friday, he felt the evacuation was a vital precaution to take.

"I don't think any of us could be surprised about anything after what has happened," Wallace said.

Plans for three of the 26 funerals were also announced today.

Noah Pozner, the first grader whose twin sister survived the massacre, and 6-year-old Jack Pinto, will be laid to rest in separate ceremonies Monday afternoon.

The funeral for Jessica Rekos, 6, will be held on Tuesday at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church.

While the families grieve, federal and state authorities are working around the clock to answer the question on so many minds: "Why?"

ABC News has learned that investigators have seized computers belonging to Adam Lanza from the home he shared with his mother Nancy, the same place he killed her before going to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he slaughtered students in two first-grade classes along with teachers and staff.

CLICK HERE for full coverage of the tragedy at the elementary school.