Newtown Victims: Dawn Hochsprung, Vicki Soto & More
Dawn Hochsprung was a beloved principal who lost her life trying to lunge at the gunman. Jesse Lewis was praised as always being able to “put a smile on your face.” Jessica Rekos dreamed of horses and asked for new cowgirl boots and a hat this Christmas. See photos of the victims, young and old, who tragically lost their lives on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Charlotte Bacon, 6
On Friday morning, Charlotte Bacon begged her mother to let her wear a new pink dress and white boots to school—her Christmas outfit—and won. “She was going to go some places in this world,” her uncle said in an interview with Newsday. The Bacon family tragedy could have been worse yet—Charlotte’s older brother, Guy, also attended Sandy Hook but survived the attack.
Daniel Barden, 7
Daniel Barden’s father, a longtime area musician, affectionately called his red-headed boy “Daniel the Maniel” on his blog, and Daniel and his family would often go to his father’s shows. “Words really cannot express what a special boy Daniel was…a constant source of laughter and joy. He earned his ripped jeans and missing two front teeth. Despite that, he was, as his mother said, ‘Just so good.’ He embodied everything that is wholesome and innocent in the world. Our hearts break over losing him,” the Barden family wrote of their son.
Olivia Engel, 6
Olivia Engel’s parents, too distraught to speak in public, asked a cousin to relay some memories about their little girl to the press. The brightly smiling child seen in pictures loved school, drawing, soccer, and theater, and danced ballet and hip-hop. Olivia had landed the role of an angel at a nativity performance on Friday night, which she had been looking forward to. On a Facebook memorial, one post remembered her bright demeanor: “I can not stop thinking about her beautiful smile, her sweet voice, and her infectious laugh. Heaven got a beautiful little angel and I know her grandpa is loving every moment, getting to know this precious little girl.”
Josephine Gay, 7
Josephine Gay had just celebrated her 7th birthday three days before she was tragically killed in the Sandy Hook shooting.
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Ana Marquez-Greene moved to Newtown just this past summer from Manitoba, Canada, with her parents and older brother. “As we work through this nightmare, we’re reminded how much we’re loved and supported on this earth and by our Father in heaven. As much as she’s needed here and missed by her mother, brother and me, Ana beat us all to paradise. I love you sweetie girl,” her father, Jimmy Greene, a jazz saxophonist, wrote on his Facebook page. Ana’s brother, 9-year-old Isaiah, escaped the school unharmed. A friend of the family described Ana and her brother as “really talented, beautiful children. Picture-book children and obedient and spiritual—you know, the kind of kids you want moving in next door.”
Dylan Hockley, 6
The Hockley family moved to Connecticut almost two years ago from England, where they had lived for the past 18 years. Tragically, on Friday, 6-year-old Dylan was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary by a man who lived just 100 feet from the Hockleys’ house. “I didn’t know there was a killer in my street,” Dylan’s devastated mother reportedly told his grandmother. “Dylan was a lovely boy. He had dimples and blue eyes and a mischievous grin,” his grandmother told the Daily Mail. “We are shattered and will never be the same.”
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
“We are greatly saddened by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Catherine Violet, and our thoughts and prayers are with the other families who have been affected by this tragedy,” Jennifer and Matthew Hubbard said in a statement. “We ask that you continue to pray for us and the other families who have experienced loss in this tragedy.”
Chase Kowalski, 7
Seven-year-old Chase Kowalski was active and energetic. His neighbor remembered him always playing in the backyard and riding his bike. The budding athlete told his neighbor that he had won his first mini-triathlon just last week. Another neighbor, who was with the family when they received the horrible news, remembered Chase as “an amazing little boy.”
Jesse Lewis, 6
Known to his family and friends as a jokester, Jesse Lewis was a rambunctious free spirit. “He was infectious,” a neighbor said. “You could be in a foul mood and he would come up with something out of left field to put a smile on your face.” Jesse even had a signature “grumpy face,” where he would scrunch up his features, pull up his pants, and prowl around the house hunched over to make people laugh. “My son, he was 6 years old. He was in Ms. [Victoria] Soto’s class,” Jesse’s distraught dad told the New York Post. “We were supposed to make gingerbread houses today at 2:30 in his class.”
James Mattioli, 6
With chubby cheeks, a mohawk, and his signature Angry Birds shirt, first-grader James Mattioli was described as a “sweet angel” by friends of his family. “You will be missed but hopefully your impact on this world will create lasting change,” one post on his Facebook memorial page read.
Grace McDonnell, 7
“I just choke up when I think about it. Grace was like a little doll,” said a neighbor who used to see blonde-haired, blue-eyed Grace McDonnell waiting at the schoolbus stop every day and described her as “utterly adorable.” Eerily, the family is reported to live just one block from shooter Adam Lanza.
Emilie Parker, 6
Emilie Parker’s father did what many parents of slain children spend years building up to do—he sent condolences to the family of Adam Lanza, the gunman who killed his 6-year-old daughter. Blonde and blue-eyed, Emilie was described as a “bright, creative, very loving” daughter by Robbie Parker at an emotional press conference he held. “She was the type of person who could light up a room…I’m so blessed to be her dad.”
Jack Pinto, 6
Six-year-old Jack Pinto worshipped Giants receiver Victor Cruz. As homage to his young fan, Cruz wore Jack’s name on his shoes and gloves at Sunday’s game and offered his jersey to the family to bury Jack in. “Jack Pinto My Hero” read the note on Cruz’s cleats.
Noah Pozner, 6
The youngest of five children, Noah Pozner was remembered by his uncle Arthur as “extremely mature,” as well as “extremely bright” and “very well brought up.” He is survived by a twin sister and an 8-year-old sister. “At this stage, two out of three survived…That’s sad,” the uncle said, noting that when they moved away from New York, the family hoped for a better life for their children. “The reason they moved to that area is because they did not consider any school in New York state on the same level. That’s one of the reasons they moved, for safety and education.”
Caroline Previdi, 6
“I will see you again someday Caroline and we can play soccer and hide-and-seek like we always did when I came over,” a friend posted on a tribute page on Facebook to the 6-year-old victim, pictured with a wide smile. “You showed me what it was like to be a kid again.”
Jessica Rekos, 6
In just four years’ time, Jessica Rekos’s dreams would come true. Her parents had promised the horse aficionado her very own equine companion when she turned 10. In preparation, she asked Santa for new cowgirl boots and a cowgirl hat this year. “Jessica was our first born. She started our family, and she was our rock,” her parents wrote in a note to The New York Times. “We cannot imagine our life without her...We are devastated and our hearts are with the other families who are grieving as we are.”
Avielle Richman, 6
Sandy Hook Elementary had a place in the heart of Avielle Richman’s family, whose mother had attended the same school as a child.
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
The Wheeler family had settled in Newtown last year after moving from New York City. Benjamin Wheeler’s father, David, is an actor and writer for a local Shakespeare repertory theater.
Allison Wyatt, 6
Rachel Davino, 29
“I just got the news my childhood friend Rachel Davino saved her students in #newtownct,” a Twitter user posted, saying he had no words to express his sadness. Another tweeted about the 29-year-old teacher’s aide: “Rachel Davino has forever changed my life, as she has done for the children she saved. Thanks for making me a better person.”
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Dawn Hochsprung went from school principal to hero on Friday morning when she charged down the hallway of Sandy Hook Elementary school toward a gunman, risking her own life to protect her students. Hochsprung was killed as she reportedly lunged toward 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza. Since starting at the 700-student school in 2010, Hochsprung had been focused on making Sandy Hook a safe environment for her students, studying the mistakes of Columbine and, recently, instituting a visual recognition system for entering the building, among other new safety measures. A mother of two daughters and stepmother to three others, Hochsprung was accepted to the doctorate program at the Sage Colleges of the Esteves School of Education in New York State last summer.
Nancy Lanza, 52
Mother of gunman
The mother of shooter Adam Lanza was also his first victim, and it was one of her own guns that killed her. Nancy Lanza was shot by her 20-year-old son at the Colonial home they shared in Newtown, Conn. The house was also home to Lanza’s personal gun collection, of which she was reportedly proud. Divorced from her husband in 2008, the 52-year-old mother of two—her older son, Ryan, 24, lives in Hoboken, N.J.—has been described by friends as both “social” and “generous.” The New York Times reports that, though she had many friends in town, many of those who knew her were unsure of what she did for a living. Her brother, with whom she grew up in Kingston, N.H., said she had once been a stockbroker but at the time of her death was not working. Lanza was known to enjoy landscaping, live music, and craft beers.
Victoria Soto, 27
Victoria Soto had worked at Sandy Hook Elementary School for five years, getting her start as an intern, before she was killed there Friday. The 27-year-old was reportedly trying to hurry her first-grade students into a closet when Adam Lanza attacked her and her class. “Her life dream was to be a teacher, and her instincts kicked in when she saw there was harm coming toward her students,” Soto’s cousin, police officer Jim Wiltsie, told ABC News. “She lost her life doing what she loved.” The young educator was also working toward a master’s degree in special education at Southern Connecticut State University in addition to teaching first grade at Sandy Hook. On her online teacher’s profile, Soto wrote that she had “a passion for learning” and loved spending time with her family and black Labrador, Roxie.
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
“A first responder said she was a hero,” Hugh McGowan, the father of teacher Anne Marie Murphy, told Newsday. The body of the 52-year-old teacher was found shielding a group of children who were gunned down when the shooter entered her classroom Friday morning. A mother of four, Murphy was described by her own mother as a “happy soul” and “a very good daughter, a good mother, a good wife.” Most shocking to Murphy’s parents was that such a tragedy could befall their artistic and witty daughter. “It happens on TV; it happens elsewhere,” her father said in an interview.
Lauren Rousseau, 30
“It was the best year of her life,” Teresa Rousseau said of her daughter’s recent accomplishments. The 30 year old had just landed a job as a permanent substitute teacher at Sandy Hook in October and was thrilled. “She wanted to be a teacher even before she went to kindergarten,” her family said. On the night of the shooting, Rousseau and her boyfriend were planning to see The Hobbit, and she had even made themed cupcakes for the occasion. “I’m used to having people die who are older,” her mother said, “not the person whose room is up over the kitchen.”
Mary Sherlach, 56
When gunshots sounded in the halls of Sandy Hook, longtime employee Mary Sherlach was one of the first to react. Along with Principal Hochsprung and the vice principal, she heroically ran out of a meeting to confront the shooter and was one of the gunman’s first victims. Sherlach was beloved by students, and today her comforting presence is gone when her school needs it most. “If there ever was a person, by qualifications and personality, to work with children to be a school psychologist, it was Mary,” former school superintendent John Reed said of the 20-year Sandy Hook veteran. The mother of two was planning to retire this year.