CNN WORLD News

Funerals begin for slain children

March 18, 1996
Web posted at: 2:30 p.m. EST (1930 GMT)

From Correspondent Rob Reynolds

DUNBLANE, Scotland (CNN) -- Two 5-year-old girls were buried in a joint funeral Monday, the first of this week's services for 16 kindergartners slain in their classroom last Wednesday.

The two girls, Emma Crozier and Joanna Ross, were best friends and had been baptized together as infants.

The international media, meanwhile, scaled back its presence in the grief-stricken town of Dunblane after requests to let families grieve in privacy and with dignity.

"We have to bury our little ones this week. ... They need all the privacy they can get," said Father Basil O'Sullivan of Holy Family Catholic Church. (91K AIFF sound or 91K WAV sound)

The police said more than 800 mourners attended the funeral service at the Episcopal church where the girls had been baptized on August 5, 1990. Friends and family bid the girls good-bye, singing "Give Me Joy in My Heart."

"I recall on Sundays that Emma and Joanna would sit together at the front pew, bobbing around and chatting," the Rev. William Gilmour told the Press Association, the British news agency.

Separate funerals took place later in the day for Abigail McLennan, 5, and Kevin Hassell, 5, at St. Blane's Church, a Presbyterian church.

Funerals for six other children were planned for Tuesday. The school will reopen Friday after the last of the funerals.

Media responds to requests

media leaving

Police, local officials and townspeople asked reporters and photographers to stay away from the funerals, and their requests were respected.

The Press Association said it would pull out all its staff by the end of the day. The British Broadcasting Corp. said it postponed a documentary on the massacre, which was to air Monday night.

"We are all acutely conscious of the need to show real sensitivity at a time like this," said Tony Hall of BBC.

CNN did a few live shots from the town Monday, but did not cover the funerals. CNN's crews will leave Monday night.

women with flowers

On Sunday, Queen Elizabeth and her daughter Princess Anne visited the town. The two laid a wreath at the school, which is lined with thousands of flowers and teddy bears. The queen also met with teachers, staff and local officials.

The queen then visited eight wounded children and two injured teachers, hospitalized victims of the shooting.

Formal investigations to explore massacre

Britain is now trying to make sense of the deaths and of Thomas Hamilton, the man who shot the children and their teacher before taking his own life.

Hamilton was licensed to own six weapons despite a reputation for strange behavior and numerous complaints about his obsession with young boys.

He walked into Dunblane Primary School last Wednesday with four guns to commit the worst massacre in British history by a lone gunman.

city sign

Hamilton was fired as a scout master in 1974 for "inappropriate behavior," and then started a private boys' club that folded after the town found out about his fondness for taking photographs of near-naked boys.

Several people said they filed complaints about him, but authorities said their investigations did not find enough evidence to act further.

Two formal investigations into the Dunblane massacre are planned. Scottish judicial officials will hold a fatal accident inquiry as required by law. A more wide-ranging inquiry ordered by the British government will look at whether stringent British gun control law should be strengthened.

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