"Shock, dismay, disbelief probably most of all," said Dr. Sunny Gupta.
And then came the sadness and anger for Dr. Sunny Gupta, a Philadelphia doctor who lived in Newtown, Connecticut until the year 2000.
"We would joke around and say 'It is the safest place in America.' There's no question, we would never, ever imagine something like this to happen in our town," Dr. Gupta.
Sunny's parents still live in town, less than three miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of Friday's mass murder of 26 students and staff.
"I felt sick to my stomach," he said. "It was like a pit in my stomach for a while."
Gupta's mom is a retired special needs educator who had spent time working with one of the victims, 1st grader Josephine Gay.
The devastating news that comes less than 2 weeks before Christmas has people grieving rather than rejoicing this holiday season.
"I heard stories about how a lot of the homes in ct are bringing down their Christmas decorations and lights out of respect," he said.
Spirits are low, but Gupta believes the tight-knit community is strong enough to bounce back. Gupta says the vigils and moments of silence happening in Philadelphia and all across the country will help to slowly heal the many broken hearts.
"It is really comforting to know that we're not alone, and that the whole world is reacting," said Gupta.