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Scholarships, Funds Set Up in Honor of Newtown Victims


Several scholarships have been set up in honor of the victim's of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.

Ana Marquez-Greene Music Scholarship Fund

Western Connecticut State University has set up a scholarship in honor of Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, 6-and-a-half.

"Ana’s love for singing was evident before she was even able to talk. In a musical family, her gift for melody, pitch and rhythm stood out remarkably. And she never walked anywhere – her mode of transportation was dance. She danced from room to room and place to place. She danced to all the music she heard, whether in the air or in her head. Ana loved her God, loved to read the Bible and loved to sing and dance as acts of worship," the Marquez-Greene family said in a statement.

Sandy Hook School Memorial Fund at the University of Connecticut

UConn has created a memorial scholarship fund to help the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School who survived Friday's tragedy. The Sandy Hook School Memorial Fund at the University of Connecticut will provide financial aid for any students who currently go to the school, as well as siblings of those killed and dependents of teachers and the other adults who lost their lives protecting those students. The scholarships will be available to those who are accepted to UConn when the time comes for them to apply.

Victoria Leigh Soto Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund

Victoria Leigh Soto went to Eastern Connecticut State University and the university has created the Victoria Leigh Soto Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund to support Eastern students studying to be teachers who have unmet financial need. 

My Sandy Hook Family Fund Web

The parents of children who survived the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown are the friends and neighbors of families going through immense grief and they have set up a fund to help remove some of the burden.

Photo Credit: AP

Parents of Survivors Set Up Fund


The parents of children who survived the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown are the friends and neighbors of families going through immense grief and they have set up a fund to help remove some of the burden.

“We are the parents of the children who survived. We are the classmates, friends, and the little league coaches. Sandy Hook is where we live -- it is our proud community. We ask the world to join us not only in our grief but also in our burning need take some of the burdens off these families in their time of incredible pain. To bear their cross in some small way. We intend to use donations to pay for immediate needs, including funeral services, as well as ongoing living expenses such as food, mortgages payments, daycare, insurances and fuel until they are back on solid ground. Please help us help our own neighbors beyond sharing their tears. All net funds received will go directly to the families who lost children and immediate family members,” a statement on the My Sandy Hook Family Fund Web page says.

So far, $1.4 million have been raised and the group hopes to raise an additional $2.4 million.

You can donate online here.
If you wish to make a donation by check, please send it to:
'My Sandy Hook Family Fund'
c/o Union Savings Bank
1 Commerce Dr.,
Newtown, CT 06470

Photo Credit: AP

Pedestrian Struck and Killed in Stafford


State police are investigating a crash that killed a pedestrian in Stafford on Monday night.

A person was struck and killed by a car on Crystal Lake Road at Cemetery Road.

State police have not released any further information.

Photo Credit: NBC10Philadelphia.com

Dogs Bring Comfort to Newtown

A church group from Chicago has brought 10 "therapy dogs" to Newtown to help bring smiles to the grief stricken.

Dick’s Stops Selling Guns Near Newtown


The gun racks at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Danbury are empty out of respect for victims of the tragedy in Newtown.

The Danbury store is the closest one to Newtown, 13 and a half miles away from Sandy Hook Elementary, where 20 students and six staff members were killed in a mass shooting.

The Danbury store referred calls to corporate communications for Dick’s Sporting Goods and NBC Connecticut has reached out to the company, but the The Dallas Morning News obtained a statement from the company saying that the company stopped selling guns in its store near Newtown.

“We are extremely saddened by the unspeakable tragedy that occurred last week in Newtown, CT, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and to the entire community," the statement posted on the Dallas Morning News Web site states.

"Out of respect for the victims and their families, during this time of national mourning we have removed all guns from sale and from display in our store nearest to Newtown and suspended the sale of modern sporting rifles in all of our stores chainwide.

We continue to extend our deepest sympathies to those affected by this terrible tragedy,” the company statement says, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The shooter, identified as Adam Lanza, 20, of Newtown, is believed to have used a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle, a civilian version of the military's M-16. It is similar to the weapon used in a recent shopping mall shooting in Oregon and other deadly attacks around the U.S. Versions of the AR-15 were outlawed in this country under the 1994 assault weapons ban, but the law expired in 2004.

In addition to the Bushmaster, Lanza was also carrying two handguns—all of which were legally purchased by Lanza's mother, a firearms enthusiast.



Photo Credit: Jo Ling Kent

Newtown Man Kept Children Safe After They Escaped Shooting

Gene Rosen gestures as he speaks during an interview with the Associated Press, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. On the day of the shooting, Rosen took in four girls and two boys that were sitting at the end of his driveway; they had just run from the school, among the first to escape Friday�s deadly shooting. He ran upstairs and grabbed an armful of stuffed animals he kept there. He gave those to the children, along with some fruit juice and sat with them as the two boys described seeing their teacher being shot. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Instagram Can Sell Your Photos Under New Policy


If the picture in that ad looks familiar, that soon could be because it's one you took and shared on Instagram.

With its sweeping new terms of service, the photo sharing app claims the right to use and license any photos posted by users, without notifying them or paying them a cent.

The new policy, which takes effect Jan. 16, would let Instagram use photos posted on its platform in its own advertisements and would also let it license them to companies or any other organization, including for their own ads.

There's no way to opt out of the policy, short of deleting one's account before Jan. 16.

It applies to underage users as well as adults, with teens certifying parental consent when they sign up. It could also affect people who don't even use Instagram; they could show up in ads if their friends photograph them and share the pictures on the app, The New York Times noted.

The new policy has already raised the hackles of plenty of users, as well as plenty of questions about how it will be put into effect.

CNET wrote that the policy would effectively make Instagram a massive stock photo agency — one that bypasses paying its photographers. It also questioned whether Instagram would still reserve the right to use past photos posted by users who delete their accounts after Jan. 16.

Instagram's terms of service update follows a similar one last week by Facebook, which bought it for $1 billion in April, Politico reported.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

#26Acts of Kindness for Newtown


In response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, people are committing random acts of kindness in honor of the shooting victims.

It started with a Tweet from Ann Curry, of NBC News:  “Imagine if all of us committed to 20 acts of kindness to honor each child lost in Newtown. I'm in. If you are RT. #20Acts.”

The impact is being felt in a community that is mourning.

A resident of Arizona called Carminuccios Pizza, on South Main Street in Newtown, and bought 1,000 slices of pizza over the phone to be donated to anyone who went into the restaurant.

Whether the person made the donation because of the movement or just wanted to help is not known, and it is just one example of many in which people have reached out to Newtown and made similar donations to try to help ease the pain in some small way. 

The Wishing Well ift Shop, on Church Hill Road, posted words of thanks on Facebook after a woman bought several items.

"I don't know who this stuff is for, but I know that all of this is really hurting your business, so I just wanted to help you out," she said, according to the post.

Curry wrote about the movement on NBCNews.com and said tens of thousands of people responded on Facebook and Twitter. The pledge has since increased to 26 acts to also include the six adult women who were killed inside the school on Friday.

The response has been global, including in Connecticut, where residents from each corner of the state are in mourning.

Schaghticoke Middle School in New Milford put out the call on Twitter.

It is also taking off at New Milford High School.

A man in Ontario placed a call to a Newtown restaurant and paid for meals, according to one Tweet.

One woman decided to buy a cup of tea for the police officer behind her in line at the drive-through in Danbury.

Some have tweeted that they are sending cards to soldiers, in memory of the young victims. Others are making donations to help children overseas.

While there are many public pledges, others are no doubt being done privately and quietly by people who just have the desire to bring a smile to someone's face after so much sadness. 


Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Newtown School Closed After Threat


Head O’Meadow School, an elementary school in Newtown, is closed after the school received a threat on Tuesday, according to the superintendent.

Public schools in Newtown were scheduled to open two hours late, so no students were at school when the threat was received.

School officials said police had predicted that there might be some threats and there was one.

All staff members are safe, school officials said. Police were at the scene as a precaution before the threat was made.

The threat was made on the day that Newtown public schools returned to school after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday. 

No additional information has been released on what the threat was.


Photo Credit: Dianna Russini, NBC Connecticut

"Autism and Craziness Have Nothing to do with Each Other"

In the wake of the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, some local parents are speaking out to dispel myths about what is commonly known as Asperger's Disorder, which has been considered part of the autism spectrum. News4's Jim Rosenfield reports on that and the disorder the Connecticut gunman was said to have suffered from.

Newtown Florists Craft Bouquets Through Tears

The tragedy in Newtown has touched people across the world: one florist says his phone has been ringing off the hook with people wanting to express their sympathies. With a heavy heart, Bob Sabia prepares each bouquet and whispers a prayer. Marc Santia reports.

Crash Closes George Street in Middletown


George Street in Middletown will be closed until further notice because of a rollover crash involving two vehicles. 

The crash happened at George and Washington streets, according to police.

The state Department of Transportation issued an alert just after 2:30 p.m. that Washington Street, or Route 66, will be closed between Camp Street and Boston Road.

No additional information is immediately.

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Greg McElroy Named Jets Quarterback


The inevitable has happened. 

Less than 24 hours after a five turnover performance in the Jets' 14-10 loss to the Titans, the team has decided that Mark Sanchez is no longer their starting quarterback. We spent a lot of time already on Monday discussing why this move needed to happen and probably should have happened sooner, but Monday night was the perfect end to the story. 

The Jets were playing for a playoff spot in the fourth quarter of a game they absolutely could have won against a bad team and they asked Sanchez to help them win it. Doing so would have cemented Sanchez in the lineup for the rest of the season and, if they won out to make the playoffs, probably would have kept the job into the next season. 

He threw two interceptions, though, and then couldn't field a low snap on the final play of the game to hand the victory to the Titans. The Titans kept giving the Jets chances and Sanchez kept pushing them away with one of the least confident quarterbacking jobs in the history of the league. 

When members of the defense complained about being asked to clean up Sanchez's messes every week, there was no way that Rex Ryan could even dream of sticking with Sanchez for another week. This being the Jets, even that obvious conclusion couldn't come without drama. 

By picking McElroy, Ryan is bypassing Tim Tebow for the starting job. This is the same Tebow who took the Broncos to the playoffs last season and came to New York with great fanfare about the big role he would play for the Jets offense before mostly sitting on the bench to watch Sanchez slip further and further into the abyss. 

We'd ask the question of why the Jets bothered trading for him for the millionth time, but it seems pretty obvious that they only got him so people could talk about the fact that they aren't using him. Even the long-held ticket sales/merchandise argument doesn't make sense because you don't sell tickets to watch a guy wear a jersey (which you won't buy) on the sideline. 

McElroy will get his chance to start and good performances will throw his hat into the ring for the 2013 job. Who will join him is a total mystery. 

Sanchez is guaranteed more than $8 million next year, but it is hard to see a way to bring him back next season. You'll have to eat money, but better to eat money than to try to sell an angry fanbase on another try for a guy who has failed every single time the team has asked him to take a step forward. 

Tebow is also under contract, but it's just as hard to envision him in a Jets uniform after this year. Trading him would be ideal, although the Jets have pretty effectively erased his value by treating him like he's radioactive this season. 

Two good games against the dregs the Jets have left on their schedule shouldn't buy McElroy anything more than a ticket to the dance. Benching Sanchez gives the Jets an easy opportunity to fire Tony Sparano and hire someone a bit more familiar with designing successful offenses. 

Whether or not that person works for Ryan remains to be seen, though there's still no sense that his end is near. General manager Mike Tannenbaum looks like a much likelier scapegoat for this year and no one's going to argue if someone who didn't extend Sanchez before this season is in charge of football decisions. 

Tannenbaum and the Jets tried to slip through a window that appeared to be open after Ryan's first two seasons. That sacrificed long-term planning for short-term success, excepting the success, and this Sanchez move needs to be the first of many to unwind those decisions. 

Change has come to the Jets. It best not stop now. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Emilie Parker's Father: "Remember These Beautiful Children"


The family of 6-year-old Emilie Parker, who was killed in the Connecticut school shooting, has been humbled by "countless kind gestures, words and prayers" since the tragedy, her father said.

"Remember these beautiful children; keep them close to our hearts," Robbie Parker said in a statement Tuesday to NBC News. "Do not let their bright shining faces become extinguished. Let us do everything in our power to ensure their light will continue to shine brighter and brighter in all we do to remember them."

The Parkers plan a viewing Friday and funeral Saturday for their daughter in Ogden, Utah, where the family lived before moving to Newtown, Conn., according to Salt Lake City-based NBC affiliate KLS-TV.

Following the shooting last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 20 children and six adults, Robbie Parker described Emilie to reporters as "bright, creating and very loving" and always willing to try new things "other than food."

"She always carried around her markers and pencils so that she never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for those around her," Parker added during a news conference on Saturday. "I can’t count the number of times Emilie noticed someone feeling sad or frustrated and would rush to find a piece of paper to draw them a picture or to write them an encouraging note."

The Parker family has since set up a fund in Emilie's memory to aid other families of Sandy Hook shooting victims.

They hope to create a memorial and "enduring legacy" for the victims in Newtown, with proceeds from the Emilie Parker Fund set to help those affected "in whatever ways each family deems necessary," according to the fund's website.

"Although no one can be prepared what to do at a time like this, I do know for certain that it is imperative that we all spend more time with our families and focus on those who are most precious in our lives," Robbie Parker said in his statement to NBC News.

Here is the statement in full:

We have been very humbled at the response received over the past few days and by the countless kind gestures, words and prayers offered to every family of every victim. I am grateful that the words spoken on Saturday night have found a way to be of comfort to some. The numerous requests to learn more about our dear Emilie have been truly humbling. Although no one can be prepared what to do at a time like this, I do know for certain that it is imperative that we all spend more time with our families and focus on those who are most precious in our lives. May we use all our energy and strength to overcome this terrible tragedy. May we focus our energy on those who were taken from us and let their memories inspire us to do good. May we look for opportunities to give service and work toward bettering our communities. I feel that if we can do these things we will again feel empowered, and we will make a difference. Remember these beautiful children; keep them close to our hearts. Do not let their bright shining faces become extinguished. Let us do everything in our power to ensure their light will continue to shine brighter and brighter in all we do to remember them.



Photo Credit: AP

Allison Wyatt: Turned Home Into an Art Studio


Allison Wyatt was a sweet, smart little girl who would turn parts of her family’s Newtown home into an art studio by taping her pictures to the walls, her family said in a statement. For her six short years, she made the world a better place.

Allison Wyatt, daughter of Cheyanne and Ben Wyatt, was one of 20 first graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Friday.

Wyatt’s family released a statement on Tuesday and a photo of a smiling Allison in a green floral dress sitting in front of a pink cake, celebrating her sixth birthday. 

“Allison was a kind-hearted little girl who had a lot of love to give, and she formed special bonds with most people who spent any amount of time with her.  She loved her family and teachers especially, but would often surprise us with random acts of kindness - once even offering her snacks to a complete stranger on a plane,” her family said. 

Allison loved drawing and wanted to be an artist, her family said.

“She loved to laugh and was developing her own wonderful sense of humor that ranged from just being a silly six-year old to coming up with observations that more than once had us crying with laughter,” her family said. 

“Allison made the world a better place for six, far too short years and we now have to figure out how to move on without her.  She was a sweet, creative, funny, intelligent little girl who had an amazing life ahead of her.  Our world is a lot darker now that she’s gone.  We love and miss her so much.”

Photo Credit: Contributed

Driver Killed in Middletown Dump Truck Crash


A dump truck driver was killed in crash on Washington Street in Middletown Tuesday.

The truck was traveling downhill on Washington Street around 1:30 p.m. when it ran a red light at George Street, collided with a car, and flipped over, according to police. The dump truck ended up in a parking lot in a plaza at 955 Washington Street..

The truck driver was killed. The driver of the car suffered non life-threatening injuries.

George Street was closed for a few hours while police investigated the crash.

Police have not released the name of the truck driver.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Newtown Teacher's Aide Died Cradling Dying Student


Stories of beauty and selflessness in the face of horror continue to trickle out in the wake of last week's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. The latest is the story of Anne Marie Murphy, an aide assigned to work with the special needs students in Victoria Soto's class.

One of those students was Dylan Hockley, who had moved to Newtown, Conn. just two years ago from England.

He was learning to read, his parents said. He loved bouncing on his trampoline, he loved seeing the moon. He loved chocolate and computer games and adored his big brother Jake.

"Dylan had dimples and blue eyes," his grandmother Theresa Moretti told The Boston Herald. "He had the most mischievous little grin."

The 6-year-old died in the attack on his elementary school.

The story of the massacre has been told. There were morning announcements. The gunman came in. There was screaming and gunshots. Twenty-six people were fatally shot.

Dylan and his aide were among the least fortunate, but they died together, Murphy cradling her student in her arms, according to a statement released by Hockley's family.

"We take great comfort in knowing that Dylan was not alone when he died, but was wrapped in the arms of his amazing aide, Anne Marie Murphy," his family wrote in a statement. "Dylan loved Mrs. Murphy so much and pointed at her picture on our refrigerator every day."

Murphy, 52, was a mother herself. She had four children and was part of a big, warm family, her parents told Newsday.

"She was a happy soul," her mother Alice McGowen told the newspaper. "She was a very good daughter, a good mother, a good wife."

She was the sixth of seven children and her parents were planning on hosting a house full of children and grandchildren for Christmas Eve. They still will, though there will be one less guest.

"I've done my crying. Haven't we all?" McGowen told Newsday. "I'll miss her presence. She died doing what she loved. She was serving children and serving God."

Authorities told Murphy's father that she died shielding students from the bullets.

Dylan's teacher, Victoria Soto—a 27-year-old third-year teacher—also lost her life trying to stand between her first-graders and the attacker, her uncle said on ABC News.

The Hockley family said Soto "was warm and funny and Dylan loved her dearly," and added that they chose Sandy Hook specifically for its elementary school and that they have no regrets about their choice of location.

"Our boys have flourished here and our family's happiness has been limitless."

They credited the school's principal and psychologist with helping them navigate Dylan's special education needs.

Principal Dawn Hochsprung—whose Twitter account left a heartbreaking record of her devotion to her school, her community and its youngest students—also died in the attack. So did Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist, a mother and wife, nearly ready to retire.

Dylan’s family said that while their hearts break for their youngest son, they "are also filled with love for these and the other beautiful women who all selflessly died trying to save our children."

Below is the Hockley family's complete statement:

We want to give sincere thanks and appreciation to the emergency services and first responders who helped everyone on Friday, December 14. It was an impossible day for us, but even in our grief we cannot comprehend what other people may have experienced.

The support of our beautiful community and from family, friends and people around the world has been overwhelming and we are humbled. We feel the love and comfort that people are sending and this gives our family strength. We thank everyone for their support, which we will continue to need as we begin this long journey of healing. Our thoughts and prayers are with the other families who have also been affected by this tragedy. We are forever bound together and hope we can support and find solace with each other.

Sandy Hook and Newtown have warmly welcomed us since we moved here two years ago from England. We specifically chose Sandy Hook for the community and the elementary school.  We do not and shall never regret this choice.  Our boys have flourished here and our family's happiness has been limitless.

We cannot speak highly enough of Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, exceptional women who knew both our children and who specifically helped us navigate Dylan's special education needs.  Dylan's teacher, Vicki Soto, was warm and funny and Dylan loved her dearly. 

We take great comfort in knowing that Dylan was not alone when he died, but was wrapped in the arms of his amazing aide, Anne Marie Murphy.  Dylan loved Mrs. Murphy so much and pointed at her picture on our refrigerator every day. Though our hearts break for Dylan, they are also filled with love for these and the other beautiful women who all selflessly died trying to save our children.

Everyone who met Dylan fell in love with him. His beaming smile would light up any room and his laugh was the sweetest music.  He loved to cuddle, play tag every morning at the bus stop with our neighbors, bounce on the trampoline, play computer games, watch movies, the color purple, seeing the moon and eating his favorite foods, especially chocolate.  He was learning to read and was so proud when he read us a new book every day.  He adored his big brother Jake, his best friend and role model.

There are no words that can express our feeling of loss.  We will always be a family of four, as though Dylan is no longer physically with us, he is forever in our hearts and minds.  We love you Mister D, our special gorgeous angel.


Student Charged With Breach of Peace Over Pellet Gun Incident: Police


Plainfield police have charged a 13-year-old boy with breach of peace after getting a report of a child at a bus stop with a pellet gun, police said.

Police received a call at 7:50 a.m. from a concerned citizen who said a young child was in possession of what he believed to be a long pellet or BB gun while waiting for his bus in the Moosup village of Plainfield. 

When the caller approached the boy, he ran and appeared to have discarded the pellet gun, police said.

Before police arrived, the student had gotten onto the school bus and was en-route to the Plainfield Central School. 

Police said they found a long rifle pellet gun at the child’s home. It was not brought on the bus or into any of the Plainfield schools and no one was threatened, police said.

Police said they were in constant contact with the superintendent of schools and faculty at both the Plainfield Central School and Plainfield Memorial School and Plainfield Police Department took the child into custody.

A juvenile summons for breach of peace in the second degree. The child and his parents are scheduled to appear in the Willimantic Juvenile Court at a later date. 

Photo Credit: NBC10Philadelphia.com

McDonald’s Eyes Christmas Day as Sales Opportunity: Report


Looking to fulfill that McRib craving this Christmas? Well, there could be a McDonald’s store open near you on Dec. 25.

Christmas, traditionally a day when many businesses close, could be McDonald's best chance to make some extra money this year, meaning more stores than ever could be open.

Marketing and media news agency Advertising Age reports that an internal memo from McDonald’s USA CEO Jim Johannesen went out to McDonald’s franchise owners on Nov. 8 that stated Christmas Day is “our largest holiday opportunity as a system.”

That system includes thousands of stores, only about 10 percent of those stores are company owned, the rest are franchises, according to Ad Age.

In the past many of those stores were closed for Christmas, but in recent years more stores have opened.

AdAge mentioned another memo, dated Dec. 12, that spoke of the gains of opening on holidays.

Mr. Johannesen pegged average sales for company-owned restaurants…  at "more than $6,000" this Thanksgiving. People close to the company said that about 6,000 more locations opened their doors this Thanksgiving than did last year. Presuming their sales were on par with company-owned stores, that's about $36 million in additional sales.


"Our November results were driven, in part, by our Thanksgiving Day performance," said Mr. Johannesen in the Dec. 12 memo. "Thanks to proper planning and your great execution, we capitalized on the opportunity to be open while our customers were on the road -- and those customers rewarded us."

AdAge says McDonald's could be in line to make up to $84 million on Christmas if every one of its 14,000 U.S. stores opens on Christmas. Each franchisee decides if they will open on Christmas.

McDonald's spokeswoman Heather Oldani released this statement to NBC10:

“There are many different traditions that our customers and employees celebrate during the holiday season.  Like other retailers, we respond to our customers’ needs for convenience by being open when they need and want us, including the holidays.  For McDonald’s restaurants, our employees are given the opportunity to voluntarily work these holiday hours, are compensated for working these hours and rewarded for their service.

The majority of McDonald’s restaurants across the country are owned and operated by independent business men and women -- some of whom have opted to open their restaurants during the holidays.”

According to AdAge, the workers who do volunteer to work on Christmas at company-owned restaurants won’t receive overtime.

Basically, it’s possible that you may be able to pick up a Big Mac to eat at the Christmas table this year. But, if you really have that craving, or just can’t wait until Dec. 26 to pick up a McRib sandwich, you should call first to make sure they’re open.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

"The Voice" Crowns Cassadee Pope


Cassadee Pope was named the Season 3 champion of "The Voice," after surviving more than three months of weekly scrutiny from packed houses, national television audiences and four certified music stars, as well as 63 other hopefuls.

"I feel amazing, thank you to everyone who voted for me, Blake… Seriously, it's been so fun," said Pope.

Pope beat out Terry McDermott and Nicholas David, who finished second and third, respectively, on the strength of Monday's soaring rendition of Fath Hill's "Cry."

Mentor Blake Shelton basked in the victory, while fellow judges Cee Lo Green, a tuxedoed Adam Levine and birthday girl Christina Aguilera could only applaud.

Along with the title of Season 3 champ, Pope will get $100,000 and a record contract with Universal Record Group. But no one walked away empty-handed, as all three were presented with the keys to a new KIA car earlier in the evening.

Judge Blake Shelton came into the night supporting two finalists, Cassadee Pope and Terry McDermott, while Cee Lo Green was backing Nicholas David.

This marked Shelton's second win as a coach. Last year’s champ, Jermaine Paul, had also been a member of Team Blake, while Season 1 Champ Javier Colon had been mentored by Adam Levine.

Though all the finalists took the stage Tuesday night, the victor was determined by Monday's performances. Pope was the last finalist to sing, taking on Sheryl Crow’s “Steve McQueen,” with an assist from Shelton, before going solo on "Cry."

Before the coronation, however, was a night of live music from some of music's biggest stars, all four judges and one R&B legend.

Rihanna began the evening's entertainment with a performance of her twelfth No.1 hit, “Diamonds,” giving an atypically reserved delivery.

All the other finalists came back to sing: Amanda Brown, Trevin Hunte and Dez Duron teamed up with Nicholas David to sing the Boyz II Men classic “End of the Road,” in what was the best of the "bring-back" performances.

But the highlight of the evening had to be Motown great Smokey Robinson and Nicholas David doing a duet on Robinson's timeless 1979 hit, "Cruisin'." The Killers took a respite form their tour to sing "Here With Me," with a little help from Pope; Kelly Clarkson did "Catch My Breath" with an assist from McDermott and Pope.

McDermott did a duet with Peter Frampton of Frampton's "Baby, I Love Your Way"; Bruno Mars distinguished himself among the current crop of pop stars wih a soulful take on his new single, "When I Was Your Man"; and Avril Lavigne sang "I'm With You" with Pope.

For the final song of the evening, Shelton, Levine, Aguilera and Green set aside competitive differences long enough to do a version of Green Day's "Time of Your Life," with Levine playing acoustic guitar, as a montage of the four of them played out on screens at the back of the stage.

It was something of a goodbye, as this was the final show all four judges would do together, as Usher and Shakira will be replacing Aguilera and Green as judges for Season 4.

Photo Credit: NBC
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