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Thousands gather for Arizona girl's funeral

Brother Dallas Green, right, wipes away a tear Thursday while seated next to his father John Green and mother Roxanna Green during the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green in Tucson, Ariz. Green was the youngest victim of Saturday's shooting in Tucson.

Brother Dallas Green, right, wipes away a tear Thursday while seated next to his father John Green and mother Roxanna Green during the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green in Tucson, Ariz. Green was the youngest victim of Saturday's shooting in Tucson. Photo by The Associated Press.

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The casket for Christina Taylor Green seemed too small to hold the grief and despair of the 2,000 mourners who packed into St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church on Thursday to say goodbye to the 9-year-old girl whose life began and ended with two of the nation’s most soul-searching moments.

Reminders of the innocence of the bubbly girl born on Sept. 11, 2001 were everywhere: A group of little girls dressed in frilly dresses and white tights craned to see as their friend’s casket rolled into the church and Christina’s best friend sneaked them a wave from her place in the processional line.

Outside the church, more little girls — and hundreds of other people — wearing white and waving American flags lined both sides of the street for more than a quarter-mile to show their support. Hundreds of motorcycle riders from all over stood guard and more than a dozen residents were dressed as angels.

Before the service, Christina’s family and closest friends gathered under the enormous American flag recovered from Ground Zero and paused for a moment of silence, holding hands and crying. White-gloved state troopers escorted family and dignitaries into the church as a choir sang hymns.

“Her time to be born was Sept. 11, 2001,” Bishop Gerald Kicanas said. “Her time to die was the tragic day, Jan. 8, 2011, just nine years old she was. But she has found her dwelling place in God’s mansion. She went home.”

As Christina’s family grieved, new developments emerged in the case when a man walking his dog found a black bag containing ammunition that authorities believe was discarded by the suspected gunman, 22-year-old Jared Loughner.

The third-grader was one of six people shot Saturday when a gunman opened fire at a meet-and-greet event for Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot through the head but survived. Thirteen others were injured.

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