Compelled to share grief, pray and sort through turbulent emotions, a small group of Fairfield residents came together Friday night for a candlelight vigil in the wake of the unfathomable tragedy that claimed 27 lives -- 20 of them young children -- in a mass shooting at a Newtown school earlier in the day.
Less than nine hours after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, about 15 people gathered at Lincoln Park in the Stratfield section of town to mourn the shooting victims and to seek a shared sense of peace by the light of flickering candles.
The candles were lit and placed in sand as people formed a small, mostly silent, circle for about 30 minutes in the neighborhood park. One man crouched down and traced the word "PEACE" in the sand.
Several people cried. Parents held their children close.
"It saddens me very much that something like this happened," said Nicholas Stanton, 13. "I know that it's the exact opposite of what's supposed to be happening" during this holiday season.
His mother, Nicole Stanton, accompanied him and his brother to the vigil.
"I wanted to come because I wanted to give my children time to reflect and honor the children who died," she said.
"It's unspeakable," said Stacey Sullivan. "It's just tragic. I wish those people peace. It's all of our worst fear."
"The person that did this, he just wasn't thinking about people and their families, and just how stupid it was, and sad," said Matthew Sullivan, 11. "I think we could pretty much all agree to that."
"Usually something like this, you generally presume it happens to someone else," said Connor Sullivan, 13.
"This time, it's pretty close to home," he said.