NEWTOWN, Conn. -- Two days after a devastating elementary school shooting that killed 20 first-graders, mourning in this New England town played out at Sunday church services and makeshift memorials as a whiff of early healing rode into town in the form of a presidential motorcade.
The president's visit, a rarity in Connecticut, added a dose of excitement to what had otherwise been a solemn, gray and rainy day in picturesque Newtown as funeral announcements trickled out and the school district announced the surviving children would return to school in a temporary building on Wednesday.
Crowds gathered at the high school auditorium, where a multi-faith vigil was held, and where Obama said that the heroic teachers and children of Sandy Hook Elementary School responded as we all hope we would.
He said that the nation is not doing enough to protect its children.
"Are we prepared to say that such violence visited upon our children, year after year, is somehow the price of our freedom?" Obama asked. "We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. ... But that can't be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.
"We cannot tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end, and to end them, we must change."
There was also anxiety about the first day of school since the massacre. The mayor of nearby Danbury, Conn., announced a police officer would be posted at every elementary school on Monday morning, and other towns did the same. School security plans were re-examined as parents thought twice all over again.
"I actually am very worried," said parent Megan Ifill, who lives in nearby New Haven and has two school-aged children. "There are so many troubled people out there."
Makeshift memorials for the 27 dead -- eight boys, 12 girls and seven women -- sprouted up all over, and out-of-state visitors with no connection to the town or the dead came to pay their respects.
Authorities announced Sunday that the alleged shooter's mother, Nancy Lanza, died of four gunshots to her head while she slept Friday morning. Police sources said suspect Adam Lanza took his mother's car and guns that may have belonged to her to the school.
There, he fired through the school's glass door to get inside and was met by the school's principal, Dawn Hochsprung, and school psychologist, Mary Scherlach, whom he promptly shot to death.
The Hartford Courant reported he then turned left, bypassed one classroom full of students and entered another, shooting and killing all 14 children and two teachers inside. Next he moved on to teacher Victoria Soto's classroom, where she and six children were shot. As police arrived, Adam Lanza shot himself in the head.
"There were 14 coats hanging there and 14 bodies. He killed them all," an unnamed law enforcement officer told the Courant.
Adam Lanza was carrying an arsenal of hundreds of rounds of especially deadly ammunition - enough to kill just about every student in the school if given enough time, authorities said on Sunday.
Adam Lanza shot himself in the head just as he heard police drawing near to the classroom where he was slaughtering helpless children, but he had more ammunition at the ready in the form of multiple, high-capacity clips each capable of holding 30 bullets.
State Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver, who did autopsies on seven victims of the Newtown shooting while associates examined the bodies of the rest, said Sunday that while it was the worst case he's ever seen, his colleagues performed admirably -- even if they were overwhelmed briefly at times.
"My people were magnificent," Carver said. "I am extremely proud of them. More than one person stepped out for a while to sit in the locker room and cry but we all stuck it out till the end."
The staggering list of the names of the dead still was being pored over as Internet memorials popped up for many of the victims. They included Hochsprung, school psychologist Sherloch, and four teachers who were called heroes.
Many families of the dead, especially those with dead children, quickly issued statements asking the media for privacy, and still others talked with reporters about their grief for their fallen loved ones, including the father of one of the children, Emilie Parker.
The shooting Friday began just after 9:30 a.m. in the school about 60 miles northeast of New York City, setting off a nightmarish scene in which students and teachers hid under desks and in closets before being escorted to safety and reunited with their families.
"I told them that I loved them and that they would be OK," said one of the teachers who locked the door to her classroom when the shooting began.
The toll at Sandy Hook -- 26 students and adults -- made it the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, where 32 were killed.
Authorities have offered few official details on exactly how the attack unfolded, saying they planned to reveal a motive later. But police radio traffic indicated the shooting lasted only a few minutes before police arrived.
Officers arrived instantaneously, immediately entered the school, breaking windows and searching it completely, finding the dead shooter, children and teachers, and leading out survivors, Vance said.
Later, four guns were found, among them a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols, inside the school, and a .223-caliber rifle in the back of a car.
Vance said at a Saturday morning news conference that investigators were tracking the history of each weapon that was recovered and there were multiple media reports that the guns were registered to Nancy Lanza. There were reports that Lanza might have tried to buy a rifle several days before the shooting, but did not succeed.
A law enforcement official said Adam Lanza was known to have some kind of personality disorder and was possibly on the autism spectrum, but he did not have a criminal record. His older brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza of Hoboken, N.J., was being questioned, had been extremely cooperative and was not believed to have any involvement in the rampage and was not under arrest or in custody, but investigators still were searching his computers and phone records.
The elder brother told law enforcement he had not been in touch with the alleged shooter since about 2010.
Peter Lanza, the father of Adam and Ryan, was informed about the shooting Friday afternoon by a reporter who was waiting outside his home in nearby Stamford. He and Nancy Lanza filed for divorce in 2008. On Saturday night, he released a statement saying he and his family were grieving for the victims.
"Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those who were injured. Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy. No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can. We, too, are asking why," he wrote.
The scale of the shootings and the number of tiny victims has sparked another debate among politicians about gun laws, with several anti-gun politicians such as New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg issuing repeated biting statements about the tragedy and the role of firearms in it.
"We're unfortunately a violent society," Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, who was the one to tell some parents their children were dead, said on "Meet the Press" Sunday morning. "We don't treat the mentally ill well. We don't reach out to families that are in trouble particularly well. We allowed the assault weapons ban to lapse. There are lots of issues that need to be taken on as a society. ... Having said that, we have laws that are more aggressive than most states."
On Sunday, the Rev. Robert Weiss announced that practice for St. Rose of Lima's church Christmas pageant would continue even though one of the children who was scheduled to play an angel was killed Friday.
At another service at the Newtown United Methodist Church, the Rev. Mel Kawakami said he was still angry.
"We've seen this before. We must forgive like before," he said. "But I'm not sure if I'm there yet. The tears are still fresh. The pain is still raw."