UPDATED: Trumbull mourns Newtown victims

Trumbull has poured out grief and support for the victims of Newtown's school massacre and admiration and pride in the actions of Trumbull resident Mary Sherlach, 56, a school psychologist who gave her life trying to save others.

Sherlach had been in a meeting with Principal Dawn Hochsprung when the first shots rang out. She and Hochsprung ran toward the sound of gunfire and died trying to subdue the shooter. Ultimately 20 children and six adults died.

First Selectman Timothy Herbst, who visited the Sherlach family over the weekend, called Sherlach's actions "heroic."

"She knowingly put her own life in danger, and ultimately gave her life, trying to subdue an armed assailant," Herbst said. "Ultimately she valued the lives of the children she served more than her own."

Sherlach had been the school psychologist at Sandy Hook Elementary School since 1994, and referred to her career as doing "God's work," serving those who needed help most. There will be a memorial Mass for Sherlach Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Stephen Church, 6948 Main Street.

On Friday night, just hours after the mass murder, residents jammed into Trumbull churches to pray for victims and families, and a hastily organized candlelight vigil on Town Hall Green drew hundreds of residents. Organizers are planning a statewide vigil Sunday at 6 p.m. in every Connecticut town, and Herbst said Trumbull plans to participate. Details of the event will be posted on TrumbullTimes.com.

In the days after the shootings, residents found other ways to show support for victims and families, including signs and candles. A teddy bear drive for Newtown children collected hundreds of stuffed animals in just the first two days.

Trumbull High School students also expressed their sadness and support. On Monday, English teacher Jim McCaffrey, who is also a Trumbull volunteer firefighter, made strips of green and white paper, Sandy Hook's school colors. He invited his students to write their thoughts and feelings on the paper strips, which he then formed into a paper chain called "Links of Love."

As word spread, hundreds of students and staff came to his room to fill out a link, and the hallway where the chain hangs has become an impromptu memorial wall, with students and staff lingering to read the messages and have a quiet moment with their thoughts. As of Tuesday afternoon, the chain had grown to 2,105 links, and McCaffrey plans to send the chain to Chalk Hill School in Monroe, where Sandy Hook students will attend classes.

St. Joseph Principal Ken Mayo may have summed up the town's feelings about the best way to cope with its grief in a letter to students and staff before school resumed Monday.

"When evil presents itself, go out and do something positive," he wrote. "That is my plea to all of you. Please draw closer to your loved ones, heal any rifts that exist and overcome evil with good."