Bay Area Vigils Held in Wake of Newtown Tragedy

Thousands of miles from the site of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting, many Bay Area residents are planning gatherings to mourn the more than two-dozen people killed Friday.

Tonight, vigils are planned in Pleasanton and Albany for the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 26 dead -- 20 children and six adults --when a lone gunman went on a rampage.

Ramzy Ayyad, the owner of Zaki Kabob House in Albany, is organizing a candlelight vigil at his family's restaurant at 1101 San Pablo Ave. He said anyone in the Bay Area affected by gun violence is asked to come out and join the 5 p.m. vigil, which will be held in the restaurant's parking lot.

He suggested bringing candles to light to remember the victims. He said Friday's shooting renewed thoughts about his 20-year-old brother who was shot and killed in Richmond in June 2010.

"I was reading reports and started crying," he said. His mother decided the restaurant should do something, and his family put together tonight's event, with a pastor scheduled to speak and opportunities for the community to share their feelings about the mass shooting.

Pleasanton's Henry P. Mohr Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association is stepping up to help the school community grapple with the emotions stirred up by the shooting. A vigil will be held tonight at 6 p.m. at Amaral Park at 3400 Dennis Drive near Mohr Elementary, where attendees will be invited to read prepared comments, share prayers, sing carols, recite poems or share other thoughts.

"We've put it out there for the entire community to participate," said Mohr Elementary PTA president Beth Gallagher.

The PTA has asked students and others to bring notes and pictures that will be sent to Newtown.

Donations for those affected by the shooting will also be collected at the vigil. Checks can be made out Sandy Hook School Support Fund c/o Newtown Savings Bank 39 Main St., Newtown, CT, 06470. Here is a link to the group the PTA is supporting

Checks will be processed through the United Way of Western Connecticut, according to the PTA.

Later in the week, more vigils for the Newtown victims are planned throughout the Bay Area.

In Fairfield, the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple will be holding a ceremony at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The temple is located at 2948 Rockville Road. Temple vice president Tony Hans said the vigil is open to anyone wishing to honor the victims.

He said Fairfield city officials have been invited to attend, and hundreds are expected to join in mourning during this difficult time for the nation. "All of the Sikh community comes together," he said.

On Thursday evening, "Night for Newtown" will be held by the local radio station 99.7 NOW! at the ice rink at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco at 5 p.m. There will be a candlelight vigil, and attendees are asked to bring an unwrapped teddy bear or toy, organizers said.

The toys collected will be donated to local children in need. The gunman in the Sandy Hook shooting, identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, is also believed to have murdered his mother, and later killed himself at the school.

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