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Church in Newtown evacuated after phone threat

By Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 07:16 p.m. HST, Dec 16, 2012


NEWTOWN, Conn. >> Worshippers hurriedly left a church Sunday when someone phoned in a threat as parishioners remembered 20 children and six adults who were massacred at an elementary school, but police later said nothing dangerous was found.

The threat interrupted a busy mass, sent worshippers hurrying from the church and touched off a large police response days after the worst massacre of school-age children in U.S. history.

Halfway through the noon service, the priest stopped and said, "Please, everybody leave. There is a threat," said Anna Wood of Oxford, Conn., one of the worshippers who left.

At least a dozen police in camouflage SWAT gear and carrying guns arrived at the St. Rose of Lima Church. An Associated Press photographer saw police leave carrying something in a red tarp. Guns drawn, they searched the church and adjacent buildings.

Gunman Adam Lanza, his mother and eight of the child victims attended St. Rose of Lima. It is a Roman Catholic Church with an adjacent school, which Lanza attended briefly.

The church hosted overflow crowds at all three morning Masses Sunday.

Wood said everyone left calmly but described a congregation edge. One boy, about 9, left with his mother.

"He asked his mom, 'Mom, why are we leaving?," Wood recalled. "The mom couldn't answer. She just started crying."

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