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L.A. family pays its own tribute to Newtown victims

December 18, 2012 | 11:33 am

PHOTOS: Shooting at Connecticut school

As soon as the Rosiaks pulled into Newtown, Conn., on Tuesday, they saw a funeral procession. A silver hearse carried the casket of James Mattioli, one of the first-graders killed in last week's elementary school rampage. 

"When you start talking about little caskets, it really just hits you," said Richard Rosiak, an attorney from Downey as he stood outside Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church with his daughters, Charlotte, 9, and Katie, 5.

The girls had woken up Tuesday with an unusual request for how the family should spend their last day of vacation in New York City. Feeling "really broken up" about the rampage, Rosiak said, they wanted to drive here to pay tribute to the 20 children killed, all of them 6 and 7 years old.

PHOTOS: Shooting at Connecticut school

Six adults were also slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School before the gunman, Adam Lanza, killed himself.

"They got up really, really early and said, 'Let's go up there and write something and say a prayer,'" Rosiak said.

Rosiak and his wife, Margarita, planned to buy them drawing paper and other supplies to craft a personal card for first-graders they'd never met -- including James, a round-faced 6-year-old whose online obituary described his love of swimming, arm-wrestling and meals cooked by his parents.

Then Rosiak planned to take his daughters to one of the countless shrines set up around Newtown so they would have a place to lay their card before heading back to New York and catching their flight home.

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-- Tina Susman in Newtown, Conn.

Photo: Crowds flock to a makeshift memorial in Newtown, Conn., to pay their respects to those who died in Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Credit: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times

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