Friday, December 28, 2012

Michelle Obama's best fashion moments of 2012
By Rina Raphael, TODAY

From bright pink suits to elegant one-shoulder gowns, Michelle Obama's wardrobe dazzled us in 2012. Many have applauded Michelle for her dedication to wearing up-and-coming designers — like Wes Gordon or Jason Wu, once known only within high-end fashion circles — as well as a cardigan or skirt from affordable retailers like H&M every now and then. Take a look back at TODAY Style's favorite first lady fashion moments of the year, including great outfits from Tracy Reese, J.Crew and a lot of Michael Kors:

Brendan Hoffman / Pool / EPA
Michelle Obama glows in a gold Michael Kors gown at the Kennedy Center Honors Reception at the White House in Washington, DC, on Dec. 2. 

Emmanuel Dunand / AFP / Getty Images
The first lady, wearing a pink Michael Kors dress suit, attends the second 2012 presidential debate, in Hempstead, N.Y., on Oct. 16. Ann Romney, wife of GOP candidate Mitt Romney, also wore pink to the event.

Michelle Obama, wearing a chic white pantsuit, laughs during a taping of The Steve Harvey Show on Oct 2.

Cliff Owen / AP
Michelle Obama wore a one-shoulder gown by Michael Kors for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 42nd annual Phoenix Awards dinner in Washington on Sept. 22.

Charles Dharapak / AP
Wearing Tracy Reese, Michelle Obama waves to delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 4.

Pool / Reuters
Summer white: The first lady wore J. Mendel for a pre-Olympics reception at Buckingham Palace on July 27.

Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images
Color-coordinated: On June 5, Michelle Obama wore a colorful print dress for a press conference at the Newseum on Washington, D.C., to announce changes to Disney's nutrition guideline policy.

Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images
Michelle Obama wore a strapless paisley organza gown by designer Naeem Khan at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington on April 28.

Charley Gallay/kca2012 / Getty Images for KCA
Singer Taylor Swift joins Michelle Obama, wearing a jacket by up-and-coming designer Wes Gordon, at Nickelodeon's 25th Annual Kids' Choice Awards on March 31.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters
In an elegant red gown by J. Mendel, the first lady stands by author Maya Angelou at the BET Honors in Washington on Jan. 14.

Hillary Clinton: My hair is 'one of the great fascinations of our time'

Slideshow: Michelle Obama's effortless style

Emmanuel Dunand / AFP / Getty Images
Slideshow; The first lady looks as sophisticated in designer dresses as she does in outfits from J. Crew.

After Newtown, some parents impose (toy) gun control 


Lisa Flam TODAY
Dec. 27, 2012 at 7:20 AM ET

As the nation debates gun policy following the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., some parents are imposing a different kind of gun control in their own homes: They are taking away their children’s toy guns.

One Chicago mother, Anupy Singla, had been wrestling for months with whether to keep the Nerf revolver-style blasters that her daughters, ages 7 and 10, enjoyed playing with, several times tossing them into the trash and then retrieving them.

Her indecision ended abruptly on Dec. 14, as she watched the coverage of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza killed 26 people and himself after fatally shooting his mother at home.

“It was just something that inside me really snapped,” said Singla, 44, a cookbook author and food writer, and she threw the playthings away.

“It’s me making a decision that this is not something that’s right in our house,” she said. “We don’t believe in playing with something that represents something that could be potentially so dangerous.”

Though experts say that simply playing with a toy gun doesn’t mean a child will become violent, other families, too, were moved by tragedy to weed out their toy chests.

After the shootings, Eileen Zyko Wolter collected about a dozen toy guns that belong to her sons, ages 4 and 7, and stored them on a high closet shelf.

“I felt like they needed to understand that play guns could lead to real-life consequences,” said Wolter, 41, of Summit, N.J., a blogger. “If you’re aiming a play gun and shooting it, you’re practicing shooting at people.”

And in Decatur, Ga., Shun Melson, a wardrobe stylist, told her 7-year-old son about the killings when he got home that Friday, and posted a photo of his reaction to Twitter. “He said he was very sad and said he never wanted to see another gun and he threw it in the trash,” Melson, 38, said of his toy gun.

Shun Melson's son threw his toy gun in the trash after hearing about the Newtown school shooting.

For children, whose lives are largely governed by parents and teachers, toy guns are a symbol of power and control they may play with to express their desires, said Constance Katz, co-founder of the child and adolescent psychotherapy training program at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis & Psychology in New York. Toy guns are generally favored by boys, and wanting to play with one doesn’t mean a child is or will be violent, she said.

“Playing with a toy gun is not necessarily a worrisome sign,” Katz said. “The focus should not be on playing with guns, it should be on the total emotional life of the child.”

Katz said she would be concerned if a child plays with a toy gun to the exclusion of all other toys or becomes obsessed with gun play, or if the child shows signs of alienation, withdrawal, depression or a loss of control over aggression, adding: “Those are the real risk factors.”

While throwing out toy guns may make anxious parents feel better, Katz said it’s an ineffective, overly simplistic response.

“It’s not the issue,” she said. “The issue really is the big picture of the child’s adjustment to other people and the world.”

Despite calls on Twitter for parents to eschew toy guns as holiday gifts this year, Chris Byrne, content director for Time to Play, an independent online toy review site, said he hasn’t seen a broad backlash against play guns, and does not think the shootings will hurt sales.

“For once, I don’t see people looking to blame the toy industry,” he said. “I see people putting the focus on where it should be, which is access to real firearms.”

Play guns, mass produced at least since the end of World War II, reflect the culture, Byrne said: “It’s a play pattern that’s just not going to go away.”

The Connecticut shootings didn’t change many parents’ attitudes toward toy shooters. Shelley Dreizen, a former first grade teacher from Fairfield, Conn., is among parents who were - and still are - OK with them.

A mom of 6- and 2-year-old daughters and a 4-year-old son, Dreizen believes that depriving kids will just make them want to play with toy guns more, perhaps behind their parents' backs.

“I’d rather not make it taboo and forbidden but let him play with certain rules,” Dreizen said of her son, the only one of her kids who's really interested in toy weapons.

She teaches him to be a good guy who leads people to safety, not a killer, so he’s not getting the message that using a gun is the only to way to get what he wants.

“You don’t let them pretend to shoot everyone in the room because heroes don’t do that,” Dreizen said. “Heroes protect. That’s what I’m teaching my son.”

Poll: Has the Newtown shooting changed your feelings about letting kids play with toy guns?

Question 1: B, “Gangnam Style” star Psy in a December apology for a 2004 song that called for killing Americans.

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International rap sensation Psy took to the stage to perform for the president at a charity concert despite online videos showing some anti-U.S. performances he did less than a decade ago. NBC's Peter Alexander reports.

Question 2: C, Francesco Schettino, captain of the sunken Costa Concordia, explaining in court why he didn’t go down with his ship in January.

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The shifting ship is creating dangerous problems for the searchers who need to blast holes in the hull. NBC's Michelle Kosinski reports.

Question 3: A, David Petraeus in a statement announcing his resignation as CIA director in November.

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The respected West Point graduate led combat forces in Iraq and Afghanistan before retiring from the military and leading the CIA. On Friday, he made the startling admission that he had engaged in an extramarital affair, and announced he was resigning from his post. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.

Question 4: A, Cyclist Lance Armstrong, announcing in August that he was ending his fight against doping allegations. 

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Top Talkers: Richard Haas joins a Morning Joe panel to discuss Lance Armstrong's refusal to pursue arbitration in the drug case brought against him. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and his 2000 Olympic Games bronze medal and was banned from the sport.

Question 5: B, Apple CEO Tim Cook, talking about the iPhone 5's glitchy maps application on “Rock Center” in December.

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Steve Jobs' hand-picked successor, current Apple CEO Tim Cook, talks to Rock Center Anchor and Managing Editor Brian Williams about Apple's battle with Samsung, glitches with its maps app, the prospect of Apple TV and the challenge of keeping Apple cutting edge.

Question 6: A, Former Sen. John Edwards after learning he would not be convicted of corruption charges in May.

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The jury delivered a unanimous verdict on one of the six felony counts and found him not guilty of receiving illegal campaign contributions from heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon. The judge declared a mistrial on the five other counts. Edwards later told reporters that he knew he had not done anything illegal but that he was accountable for his behavior. NBC's Lisa Myers reports.

Question 7: B, Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., in an August interview on his opposition to abortion in rape cases.


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In a statement and a tweet, conservative U.S. Rep. Todd Akin says he "misspoke" during a local TV interview in which he made comments about "legitimate rape" and abortion. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports.

Question 8: C, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes announcing their divorce agreement in July.

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The Hollywood couple, whose five-year marriage was the subject of much speculation, issued a joint statement saying they were moving forward with daughter Suri's best interests in mind. NBC's Kristen Dahlgren reports.

Question 9: A, Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas after her win in the individual all-around in August.

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Fresh from her historic gold medal win in the gymnastics individual all-around, Gabby Douglas said "it's so meaningful" to be the first African-American woman to win the title and shares details of her phone call with President Obama.

Question 10: C, Marissa Mayer, revealing her pregnancy soon after being named Yahoo CEO in July.

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The former Google executive was named CEO of Yahoo on Monday and made headlines for the fact that she is also pregnant, turning her into a test case of whether women can really have it all. TODAY's Natalie Morales reports, and Ivanka Trump and Rachel Campos-Duffy, author and wife of a congressman, discuss the motherhood balancing act.

Question 11: B, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper in a coming-out email, in July.


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In an email published by the Daily Beast website, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper ends years of speculation about his sexuality, acknowledging that he is "gay" and "proud." NBC's Mara Schiavocampo reports.

Question 12: B, Daredevil Felix Baumgartner after his 24-mile fall to earth in October.

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Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner makes a record-breaking jump from 24 miles above Earth, leaping from the edge of space to the New Mexico desert at speeds up to 833.9 mph. NBC's Tom Costello reports.

Question 13: A, Mitt Romney at an August rally in Michigan.

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Msnbc's Mark Halperin talks about GOP candidate Mitt Romney's apparent ad-lib reference to President Barack Obama's birth certificate.

Question 14: C, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a September conference, discussing his company’s May IPO.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, "The performance of the stock is obviously disappointing," during a "fireside chat" at the San Francisco Disrupt conference organized by technology blog TechCrunch. Watch the entire interview.

Question 15: C, Ben Bernanke at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in February.

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Top Talkers: A decade after the Sept. 11 attacks, two former senators -- Bob Graham of Florida and Bob Kerrey of Nebraska -- say they believe the Saudi government may have played a role in the attacks. The Morning Joe panel – including financier Steven Rattner and Donny Deutsch – discusses. The panel also discusses Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's warning about the economy.

2012 quotes quiz: Test your knowledge of the year's news events!


Clockwise from top left: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney during presidential debate; Felix Baumgartner; Lance Armstrong; Seal and Heidi Klum; Gen. David Petraeus; Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

Test your memory of some of the year's most prominent newsmakers by matching each quote below with the person who said it.

How well do you think you'll do? Scroll down when you're ready to see the correct answers!

1. “While I'm grateful for the freedom to express one's self, I've learned there are limits to what language is appropriate, and I'm deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted.”
a) Lady Gaga
b) Psy
c) Chris Brown

2. "I tripped and found myself inside the lifeboat with a number of passengers."
a) Silvio Berlusconi
b) Antonin Scalia
c) Francesco Schettino

3. "After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours."
a) David Petraeus
b) Arnold Schwarzenegger
c) Rupert Sanders

4. "There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now."
a) Lance Armstrong
b) Paul Ryan
c) Tiger Woods

5. “We screwed up, and we are putting the weight of the company behind correcting it.”
a) Rupert Murdoch
b) Tim Cook
c) Donald Trump

6. “While I do not believe I did anything illegal or ever thought I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong, and there is no one else responsible for my sins.”
a) John Edwards
b) Peter Madoff
c) Roger Clemens

7. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
a) Richard Mourdock
b) Todd Akin
c) Michelle Bachmann

8. “We want to keep matters affecting our family private and express our respect for each other's commitment to each of our respective beliefs and support each other’s roles as parents.”
a) Katy Perry and Russell Brand
b) Heidi Klum and Seal
c) Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

9. “Gold medals are made out of your sweat, blood and tears, and effort in the gym every day, and sacrificing a lot that you have to do.”
a) Gabby Douglas
b) Ryan Lochte
c) Sanya Richards-Ross

10. "My maternity leave will be a few weeks long, and I'll work throughout it."
a) Reese Witherspoon
b) Kate Middleton
c) Marissa Mayer

11. “The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself and proud.”
a) Ellen DeGeneres
b) Anderson Cooper
c) Chely Wright

12. “Sometimes we have to get really high to see how small we are.”
a) Sir Richard Branson
b) Felix Baumgartner
c) Bill Maher

13. “I was born in Harper Hospital. No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate.”
a) Mitt Romney
b) Vice President Joe Biden
c) Paul Ryan

14. “The performance of the stock has obviously been disappointing.”
a) Tim Cook
b) Brian Dunn
c) Mark Zuckerberg

15. “Under current law, on January 1, 2013, there's going to be a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts and tax increases.”
a) Barack Obama
b) John Boehner
c) Ben Bernanke
Arizona sheriff orders armed 'posse' to patrol schools

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A controversial plan from Arizona's Sheriff Arpaio will send armed members of his volunteer posse to some Phoenix schools to provide security. Oralia Ortega, of KPNX, reports.

By Miranda Leitsinger, NBC News

Arizona sheriffs and the state’s attorney general are pushing controversial programs to allow school officials and volunteers to carry guns in the wake of the shootings at a Connecticut school that left 20 children dead.

The latest proposal comes from Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-described toughest sheriff in America, who wants to station his “posse” of volunteers outside of about 50 schools in Maricopa County within a week, according to KPNX, a local NBC station.

“Everybody else is talking about what their ideas are. They want new laws. This is immediate. I don't need a new law to send out my posse,” he told NBC affiliate, KPNX, on Thursday. “I feel like we should do whatever we can outside of the schools.”

Arpaio’s volunteers number about 3,000, with 300 to 400 carrying weapons. They log about 100 hours of training and undergo background checks, just like deputies, according to KPNX.

He first sent out his posse in 1993 to guard malls over the holiday season because of violence at those venues in the past. He believed that program worked, saying there have been zero violent re-occurrences, reported.

Arpaio’s plan follows similar ones released earlier this week: Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has proposed arming willing principals, according to, while Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said he wanted to arm a designated employee in every school, KPNX reported.

“Why not use these people we trust if they are willing to protect themselves and our children?” Babeu said.

Horne said a few counties have indicated they’d like to sign up for his program, though state law currently prohibits having firearms on public school campuses. Horne said he already has a sponsor for the necessary state legislation to implement his plan.

Anti-gun advocates and former educators denounced the idea of arming school staffers. Geraldine Hills, of Arizonans for Gun Safety, called it “outrageous.”

“Cops aren’t teachers, teachers aren’t cops,” she told KPNX. “It’s a very nice what-if scenario, this fantasy of the armed civilian hero. It doesn’t play out in real life.”

“I don’t feel that I would want to be in a position of being responsible for either a concealed weapon or securing a weapon on campus,” Gregg Baumgarten, a former principle outside of Phoenix, told the station. “I just think it’s a recipe for disaster.”

The Arizona officials’ stance echoed that of the National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre, who said he supported putting armed guards and police in schools in response to the Newtown shootings in which the gunman, Adam Lanza, also shot six administrators dead. Police say Lanza shot his mother to death earlier at their home.

“If it’s crazy to call for putting police in and securing our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy,” LaPierre told NBC’s David Gregory. “I think the American people think it’s crazy not to do it. It’s the one thing that would keep people safe and the NRA is going try to do that.”

Some districts said they were preparing to take LaPierre’s recommended action, while other educators cautioned that doing so would send the wrong message about education.

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After a controversial press conference last week, NRA head Wayne LaPierre made an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" saying the American people would be "crazy" to not put armed guards in schools. Meanwhile, Newtown, Conn., continues coping with the death of 26 people during the tragic shooting. NBC's Ron Mott report.

These are a portion of the responses given by the White House to Petitions by the American People.

3 Cops Shot: Gunman Dead in NJ Police Station Shooting

Sources say the gunman worked for the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

By Cecilia Duffy
| Friday, Dec 28, 2012 | Updated 2:57 PM EST

View more videos at:

Sources tell NBC10 that the suspect who grabbed a gun and opened fire inside the Gloucester Township police station early Friday, worked for the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
A law enforcement source says two male sergeants and one female rookie police officer were injured. The female officer was processing the suspect and he overpowered her, taking her weapon. The two sergeants heard the commotion and came running in, according to a law enforcement source.
The gunman was shot dead during the confrontation, Gloucester Township police said.
The incident happened around 5:30 a.m. on the 1200 block of Chews Landing Road. The suspect had been brought in for a domestic incident, according to police.
"A violent struggle occurred while the suspect was being processed," Gloucester Township Deputy Chief David Harkins said.
There will be a press conference at 3 p.m. on the Gloucester Township police officers' shooting. will stream it live here.

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The suspect then grabbed a gun and opened fire.
One of the officers was shot below his bulletproof vest.
He underwent surgery at Cooper University hospital and is now listed in stable condition.
A spokesperson for the hospital says that there were several puncture wounds in the officer's vest.
The other two officers,  were treated for graze wounds and were discharged, Friday morning.

Photos and Videos
More Photos and Videos

Sleeping homeless woman set on fire outside Los Angeles drug store

What is this world coming to? Who in this crazy, looney, mixed up place would do such a dastardly deed? I pray they find this person, and I especially pray for healing from the Great Healer.

View more videos at:

By Ted Chen and Jonathan Lloyd,

LOS ANGELES - A woman sleeping on a street bench outside a drug store was doused with an accelerant and set on fire early Thursday morning in Van Nuys, a district of Los Angeles.

Witnesses told police that a man poured liquid -- possibly a beverage containing alcohol -- on the sleeping woman at about 1 a.m. outside a Walgreens store near Van Nuys Boulevard and Sherman Way. He lit a match and ran from the location, witnesses told police.

The woman, who is in her 60s, was hospitalized in critical condition. The victim will likely be transported to a Sherman Oaks burn center for treatment, police said.

"It was like when you pour gasoline on something -- like an explosion," said witness Erickson Ipina, who added that he often saw the homeless woman in the neighborhood.

The man purchased the bottle containing alcohol in the Walgreens store, then poured the contents on the woman, Ipina told a Newsreel photographer. Ipina said he called 911 and followed the attacker, who brandished a knife.

"He told me, 'Stop following me, or I will cut you,'" Ipina said. "I kept following him and then the police came."

One person was taken into custody after the attack.

Westboro church threat to picket Newtown sparks call for action


Allison Joyce / Getty Images
A man wearing the school colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School links arms with people in anticipation of blocking the view of the protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church near the wake of school principal Dawn Hochsprung on Dec. 19 in Woodbury, Conn.

By Reuters

More than 475,000 people have signed petitions asking the White House to crack down on Westboro Baptist Church after the group, known for holding anti-gay demonstrations at funerals, threatened to picket in Newtown, Conn.

Newtown was the site of a school massacre on December 14 in which 20 young children and six adults were killed.

Newtown victims honored

Five petitions posted on the White House website since the shootings have asked the government to name the church, based in Topeka, Kan., a hate group or end its tax-exempt status. The requests were among the most popular on the White House site on Thursday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization, has called the church "arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America" because of the anti-gay signs its members have carried at hundreds of military funerals. Church members say the protests reflect their view that God is punishing America for tolerance of gays and lesbians.

The church has successfully defended its right to free speech in court. The church could not be immediately reached for comment.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on whether it would address the petitions.

The White House has a policy of responding to petitions that reach a threshold of 25,000 signatures but does not comment on certain law enforcement issues that are within the jurisdiction of federal agencies or courts.

NRA chief wants armed officers in schools

More than 48,000 people have signed a petition that they posted on the White House website demanding that British CNN talk show host Piers Morgan be deported over comments he made on air about gun control. Morgan lambasted pro-gun guests on his show after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"We demand that Mr. Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens," the petition said.

Obama last week asked Americans to pressure Congress to help tighten gun laws. He responded after several hundred thousand people signed a dozen petitions calling for tougher gun laws following the Newtown attack.

Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza used a military-style assault rifle to kill 20 elementary school children and seven adults, including his mother shot earlier at the family home, then he took his own life.

Obama has called for Congress to approve a ban on the sale of military-style assault weapons and a ban on the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips, as well as measures to ensure background checks for gun purchases at gun shows.

Slideshow: Newtown school massacre

There are 83 pictures, lots from funerals
I do not want to add distress by showing them. The link above will take you there
Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images
A nation mourns after the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history at Sandy Hook Elementary, which left 20 children and six staff members dead.

Parents asked priest about kids' last moments
Newtown, Connecticut priest Monsignor Robert Weiss, who has been consoling the families of victims lost on Friday, says parents asked whether their child knew what was happening as the shooting took place.

Mike Garbowski of Newtown, Conn., begins to erect a fence he built on Dec. 19 that will bear the names of all of those killed in the Dec. 14 shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Zong Yang Tan, right, and Guan Fu Jiang light candles at the makeshift memorial in the center of Sandy Hook village on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. Tan, a native of China who works for a car service in New York City, says he thinks "the U.S. government must control the guns."

Teddy bears with the names of some of the victims of the elementary school shooting, at a makeshift shrine to the victims in Newtown on Dec. 17.

Kanga Kanh, left, and Channary Pich prepare to place 26 balloons at a makeshift memorial at the entrance to Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 17. The pair, "like sisters," from North Haven, Conn., and Bronx, N.Y., wrote the victims' names on each balloon. Kanh, who has two children, ages 7 and 4, said: "Every day I do fear for my son when he's in school too."

A man hugs his daughter while visiting a memorial to the victims in Sandy Hook Village in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 16.

Eric Mueller places wooden painted angels outside his home in Newtown, Dec. 16.

Parishioners pay their respects to the victims while arriving for mass at St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, Dec. 16.

A woman puts flowers next to crosses on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Dec. 15 as a tribute to the Newtown shooting victims.

World mourns tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary
NBC’s Keir Simmons takes a look at how countries around the world are mourning the unbelievable tragedy that has shaken Newtown, Conn.

Pakistani children light candles in Karachi to pay tribute to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims.