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Sunday August 30th, 2015 8:33PM

Gainesville, Hall Co. remember school shooting victims

By B.J. Williams, Katie B. Davis
GAINESVILLE - Churches across North Georgia joined with others all over the state and nation in a simple remembrance of those who were shot and killed at an elementary school in Newtown, CT last Friday.

At 9:30 a.m., the time a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire on teachers and students, church bells began to toll across the country. Those churches were asked to ring their bells 26 times, once for each victim in the shooting.

Some chose to ring their bells 28 times, including gunman Adam Lanza and his mother, since they also died in the tragedy.

Bruce Fields, the Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care at First Baptist Church on Green Street in Gainesville, said his church wanted to participate in Friday's event, but they had to get creative.

"Unfortunately, we don't have a bell in our steeple, but we have a handbell choir," he said.

Choir member Susie Oliver stood on the front steps of the church and solemnly rang her handbell 26 times.

First Presbyterian, First United Methodist and Grace Episcopal churches in Gainesville also tolled bells at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Two candlight vigils are scheduled for Friday evening in Hall County as the area continues to pay tribute to the victims of last week's shootings.

Public and private school officials have organized the first event, which begins at 5:30 p.m., at the Gardens at Green in Gainesville. The site is adjacent to the Hall County School District building.

Meanwhile, the candlelight vigil set for 7 p.m. Friday night in Clermont has been moved from Clay Gailey Park to the Clermont gym, across from Concord Baptist Church.

Clermont Town Council member Debra Armour and Clermont resident Emily Harper are inviting people to gather as communities around the country do the same on this day of rememberance.

A Facebook page set up for the event invites the community to "pay respect to God's littlest angels and their teachers who gave their lives trying to protect them."
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