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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We turn now to NPR's Jim Zarroli, who is in Newtown, Connecticut. Hello, Jim.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.

CORNISH: So, Jim, how is the town coping at this point? What are you seeing there?

ZARROLI: Well, I think, you know, of course, as you'd expect, people are pretty much in shock. They've never had anything remotely like this happen here. You know, I talked to a woman who's had three kids who went to the school. They're not there now. And she said she's just still trying to absorb it, and that was pretty much the response I got, you know, among the people I talked to.

CORNISH: What can you tell us about the school, Sandy Hook Elementary?

ZARROLI: Well, you know, it's got a very good reputation in town. People said it's a very good school, very good staff. I talked to a woman who actually worked there until about four years ago. She said that the teachers were terrific, the principal was terrific. It was also very safe. I mean, you had to press a buzzer to get in. And if they didn't know who you were, you didn't get in. And so I think no one ever expected that it would be the kind of place where something like this would happen.

CORNISH: And, similarly, Newtown itself in terms of whether or not it's considered a safe place or just what kind of community is it.

ZARROLI: You know, it's a nice close-knit, quiet town, and I would say it kind of looks like a New England village. But I would describe it more like kind of a white collar suburb. It's - this whole part of Connecticut has a lot of people who work, you know, in insurance and technology, things like that. I mean, it's a very comfortable place. It's far from the city. It just has its own sort of quiet rhythm to it. It's a nice town. And, again, just not the kind of place where - you don't feel in danger at all walking around. You know, you never would expect something like this to happen here. And it's, you know, it's left a lot of people here in shock.

CORNISH: So far, do you get any sense that there will be any community gathering in any fashion tonight?

ZARROLI: You know, I'm at a Methodist church right now. They've scheduled a prayer vigil for tonight. They also sort of opened the church, or the sanctuary, so that anyone who wants to come in can come in. I've seen some people go in - mainly a lot of reporters, though, are here. You know, I saw another church, I think a Catholic church, that had its doors open so people could come in and pray if they wanted to.

Beyond that, I haven't heard about any kind of, you know, big vigil. But it's not that kind of town. I mean, it's just kind of a sort of a low-key place. And, you know, what they do from now on, you know, I don't know. But it's not the kind of place where, you know, you're going to see any kind of, I don't know. It's not the kind of place where I think they would have something like that.

CORNISH: NPR's Jim Zarroli in Newtown, Connecticut. Jim, thank you.

ZARROLI: You're welcome.

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