The church close to where President Obama isÂ due to attend a memorial service for the victims of the Newtown school massacreÂ was evacuated during noon mass today after St Rose of Lima received a bombÂ threat.
Police and heavily armed Connecticut stateÂ troopers hurriedly entered the Catholic church that has become a center ofÂ grieving since the deaths of 20 children and six adults at the nearby Sandy HookÂ Elementary School.
In a community already on edge following theÂ horrific tragedy on Friday, tensions were raised at the sight of nearly a dozenÂ camouflage-clad SWAT team members carrying assault weapons who the church and aÂ nearby educational center.
With their guns drawn, police shouted toÂ members of the public to stand back and take cover while they secured theÂ building.
After keeping the public and media at bay forÂ more than an hour, the police seemed to relax their posture and at around 1.30pmÂ they were allowing people to lay flowers an candles at a makeshiftÂ memorial.
Evelyn Leon, 17, of Waterbury, 20 miles eastÂ of Newtown, said she was sitting in the back of the church with her family whenÂ word came to leave the church.
‘Word filtered back through the pews thatÂ there had been a threat made and we had to get into our cars and evacuate,’ sheÂ said.