By Michelle Healy, USA TODAY
Until Friday, Newtown, Conn., was just a quiet little town, says local insurance agent Adina Tornow.
It's "absolutely beautiful ... wonderful. It's quiet. Nothing ever goes on here."
Until Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School became the site of one of the USA's worst school shootings on Friday, when a gunman killed 26 people, at least 18 children. The suspect, identified as Adam Lanza, also was reported dead inside the school.
The town's beauty "has been tarnished because of this," Tornow said.
Newtown, home to approximately 27,000 residents, is about 45 miles southwest of Hartford, the state capital, and 70 miles northeast of New York City.
"It's very old, very historical," says Tornow. "It's very picturesque and very friendly." The local weekly newspaper, the Newtown Bee, has been serving the area since 1877.
In a video on the town's official website, Patricia Llodra, the chief executive and administrative officer of Newtown, says the community combines, "the rural charm of a New England town with the sophistication and amenities of a metropolitan suburb."
Llodra goes on to describe the town, founded in 1705 and incorporated in 1711, as a place for people who enjoy "being close to big city culture without any of the big city problems."
According to 2000 Census data, the median household income there was $90,193. Only 2.2% of families and 3.1% of the population were below the poverty line; 95% of its residents are white.
Sandy Hook Elementary has an enrollment of 625 kindergarten through fourth-graders. Newtown Public Schools also operates three other elementary schools that also serve grades K-4; an intermediate school for grades 5-6; a middle school for grades 7-8 and a high school.
Several private and parochial schools also serve the community.