Although school shootings have become sadly familiar in 21st century America, violence is not common in this picturesque 300-year-old town of about 27,000.
"I can't believe -- in a small town like this -- we've never had anything like this happen," a father of a Sandy Hook student told local CNN affiliate WTNH. "I was pretty shaken up. I did not know who or what happened."
"It doesn't seem possible," said another parent. "You have something happen so close to home. ... I guess I'm still in shock."
At the Stone River Grill, just a few blocks away from Sandy Hook, residents sat quietly watching TV news announce every dark detail of the tragedy.
"It's insane," said grill employee Jill Richelsoph. "This is a really nice community. We've never had anything like this." Surrounded by restaurant co-workers Richelsoph shared a conversation she had with a friend whose 5-year-old daughter attends Sandy Hook.
"She's really shaken up right now," said Richelsoph. "I don't know how she's ever going to bring her daughter back to that school."
Also at the restaurant was Tracy Ryan, who teaches at another elementary school. Newtown's schools, she said, have helped to attract new residents from different parts of the state.
"People move here for the school system," she said. "It's got great schools. I'm just totally speechless."
"My heart goes out to those families."
Just a few weeks ago Newtown -- about 60 miles outside New York City -- was recovering from Hurricane Sandy, which downed trees and knocked out power to most customers. A year before, residents suffered through Hurricane Irene.