Remembering the victims

  • Principal-Dawn-Hochsprung

    Dawn Hochsprung


  • NEWTOWN, Conn. — At the very start of their lives, the schoolchildren are remembered for their love of horses, or for the games they couldn’t get enough of, or for always saying grace at dinner. The adult victims found their life’s work in sheltering little ones, teaching them, caring for them, treating them as their own. The gunfire Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School left a toll both unbearable and incalculable: 20 students and six adults at the school, the gunman’s mother at home, and the gunman himself. Following is a glimpse of those who died:


    Charlotte Bacon
    Charlotte Bacon


    They were supposed to be for the holidays, but finally on Friday, after hearing much begging, Charlotte’s mother relented and let her wear the new pink dress and boots to school.

    Her parents, JoAnn and Joel, had lived in Newtown for four or five years, JoAnn’s brother John Hagen, of Nisswa, Minn., told Newsday. “She was going to go some places in this world,” Mr. Hagen told the newspaper. “This little girl could light up the room for anyone.”


    Daniel Barden
    Daniel Barden


    Daniel’s family says he was “fearless in the pursuit of happiness in life.”

    He was the youngest of three children, and in a statement to the media, his family said Daniel earned his missing two front teeth and ripped jeans.

    “Words really cannot express what a special boy Daniel was. Such a light. Always smiling, unfailingly polite, incredibly affectionate, fair, and so thoughtful towards others,” the family said.


    Olivia Engel
    Olivia Engel


    Images of Olivia show a happy child, one with a great sense of humor, as her family said in a statement.

    Olivia loved school, did very well in math and reading, and was “insightful for her age,” said the statement released by her uncle, John Engel.

    The Daisy Girl Scout was a child who “lit up a room and the people around her.” Creative with drawing and designing, she was also a tennis and soccer player and took art classes, swimming, and dance lessons in ballet and hip hop.


    Catherine Hubbard
    Catherine Hubbard


    Catherine’s parents released a statement expressing gratitude to emergency responders and for the support of the community.

    “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. “We ask that you continue to pray for us and the other families who have experienced loss in this tragedy.”


    Jesse Lewis
    Jesse Lewis


    Jesse had hot chocolate with his favorite breakfast sandwich — sausage, egg, and cheese — at the neighborhood deli before going to school Friday morning.

    Jesse and his parents were regulars at the Misty Vale Deli in Sandy Hook, Conn., owner Angel Salazar told the Wall Street Journal. “He was always friendly; he always liked to talk,” Mr. Salazar said.

    Jesse’s family has a collection of animals he enjoyed playing with, and he was learning to ride horses.


    James Mattioli
    James Mattioli


    James especially loved recess and math, and his family described him as a “numbers guy” who came up with insights beyond his years to explain the relationship between numbers.

    He was born four weeks before his due date, and his family often joked that he came into the world early because he was hungry.

    They wrote in his obituary that 6-year-old James, fondly called ‘J,’ loved hamburgers with ketchup, his dad’s egg omelets with bacon, and his mom’s french toast.


    Emilie Parker
    Emilie Parker


    Quick to cheer up those in need of a smile, Emilie never missed a chance to draw a picture or make a card.

    Her father, Robbie Parker, fought back tears as he described the beautiful, blond, always-smiling girl who loved to try new things, except foods.

    Mr. Parker was one of the first parents to publicly talk about his loss. He’s sustained by the fact that the world is better for having had Emilie in it.

    “I’m so blessed to be her dad,” he said.


    Josephine Gay
    Josephine Gay


    Josephine had just turned 7, three days before the shooting.

    She liked to ride her bike on her family’s quiet cul-de-sac and over the summer she set up a lemonade stand, according to CNN.

    Josephine loved the color purple. On Monday, there were purple balloons attached to her family’s mailbox and on the mailboxes of all the neighbors. The yellow house she lived in had a jungle gym out back.


    Dylan Hockley
    Dylan Hockley


    The Hockley family moved to Sandy Hook two years ago from England, in love with the sense of community and the elementary school that their boys, Dylan and Jake, would attend. Dylan’s mother, Nicole, is American, and his father, Ian, is British.

    Dylan had a beaming smile. He played tag every morning at the bus stop with neighbors, bounced on the trampoline, and played computer games.


    Chase Kowalski
    Chase Kowalski


    Chase was always, playing in the backyard, riding his bicycle. Just last week, he was visiting neighbor Kevin Grimes, telling him about completing — and winning — his first mini-triathlon.

    “You couldn’t think of a better child,” Mr. Grimes said.


    Grace McDonnell
    Grace McDonnell


    The parents of Grace Audrey McDonnell said Sunday they couldn’t believe the outpouring of support they’ve received since the little girl who was the center of their lives died.

    Lynn and Chris McDonnell called their 7-year-old daughter “the love and light” of their family in a statement released by the little girl’s uncle.

    “Words cannot adequately express our sense of loss,” the McDonnells said.


    Jessica Rekos
    Jessica Rekos


    “Jessica loved everything about horses,” her parents, Rich and Krista Rekos said in a statement.

    When she turned 10, they promised she could have a horse of her own. For Christmas, she asked Santa for new cowgirl boots and hat.

    The Rekoses described their daughter as “a creative, beautiful little girl who loved playing with her little brothers, Travis and Shane.


    Noah Pozner
    Noah Pozner


    Noah was “smart as a whip,” gentle but with a rambunctious streak, said his uncle, Alexis Haller of Woodinville, Wash.

    He was part of a big family. His twin sister, Arielle, assigned to a different classroom, survived the shooting. He called Arielle his best friend and loved her dearly, along with big sisters Danielle and Sophia and big brother Michael.

    Mr. Haller said Noah loved to read and liked to figure out how things worked mechanically.


    Benjamin Wheeler
    Benjamin Wheeler


    Music surrounded Benjamin as he grew up in a household where both his mother and father were performers.

    They left behind stage careers in New York City when they moved to Newtown with Benjamin and his older brother Nate.

    “We knew we wanted a piece of lawn, somewhere quiet, somewhere with good schools,” Francine Wheeler told the Newtown Bee in a profile.



    A year ago, Ana was reveling in holiday celebrations with her extended family on her first trip to Puerto Rico.

    The girl’s grandmother, Elba Marquez, said the family moved to Connecticut just two months ago, drawn from Canada, in part, by Sandy Hook’s sterling reputation.


    Caroline Previdi
    Caroline Previdi


    Caroline had an infectious grin and a giving heart.

    “Caroline Phoebe Previdi was a blessing from God and brought joy to everyone she touched,” her parents, Jeff and Sandy Previdi, said in a statement. “We know that she is looking down on us from Heaven.”



    Dr. Matthew Velsmid was at Madeleine’s house on Saturday, tending to her stricken family. He said the family did not want to comment.



    Jack Pinto was a huge New York Giants fan.

    Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz honored Jack Sunday on his cleats, writing on them the words “Jack Pinto, My Hero” and “R.I.P. Jack Pinto.”

    “There’s no words that can describe the type of feeling that you get when a kid idolizes you so much that unfortunately they want to put him in the casket with your jersey on,” he said.

    Jack’s funeral was Monday .

    Avielle Richman
    Avielle Richman


    Information about Avielle was not available.



    Information about Allison was not available.



    Days before the Connecticut shooting rampage, the boyfriend of Ms. D’Avino had asked her parents for permission to marry her.

    Ms. D’Avino was a behavioral therapist who had only recently started working at the school where she was killed, according to Lissa Lovetere Stone, a friend who is handling her funeral planned for Friday. Ms. D’Avino’s boyfriend, Anthony Cerritelli, planned to ask her to marry him on Christmas Eve, Ms. Lovetere Stone said.


    Anne Marie Murphy
    Anne Marie Murphy


    Hugh and Alice McGowan described their daughter as a happy soul and a good mother, wife and daughter.

    Authorities told Ms. Murphy’s parents that their daughter was a hero who helped shield some of her students from the rain of bullets.



    She beams in snapshots. Her enthusiasm and cheer was evident. She was doing, those who knew her say, what she loved.

    And now, Ms. Soto is being called a hero.

    Though details of the 27-year-old teacher’s death remained fuzzy, her name has been invoked again and again as a portrait of selflessness and humanity among unfathomable evil. Those who knew her said they weren’t surprised by reports she shielded her first-graders from danger.


    Dawn Hochsprung
    Dawn Hochsprung


    Ms. Hochsprung’s pride in Sandy Hook Elementary was clear. She regularly tweeted photos from her time as principal there, giving indelible glimpses of life at a place now known for tragedy.

    She viewed her school as a model, telling the Newtown Bee in 2010 that “I don’t think you could find a more positive place to bring students to every day.” She had worked to make Sandy Hook a place of safety, and in October, Ms. Hochsprung shared a picture of the school’s evacuation drill with the message “safety first.”

    When the unthinkable came, she was ready to defend.

    Officials said she died while lunging at the gunman in an attempt to overtake him.

    “She had an extremely likable style about her,” said Gerald Stomski, first selectman of Woodbury, where Ms. Hochsprung lived and had taught. “She was an extremely charismatic principal while she was here.”


    Mary Sherlach
    Mary Sherlach


    When the shots rang out, Ms. Sherlach threw herself into the danger.

    Janet Robinson, the superintendent of Newtown Public Schools, said Ms. Sherlach and the principal lost their own lives rushing toward the gunman.

    Even as Ms. Sherlach neared retirement, her job at Sandy Hook was one she loved.

    Those who knew her called her a wonderful neighbor, a beautiful person, a dedicated educator.

    Her son-in-law, Eric Schwartz, said Ms. Sherlach rooted for the Miami Dolphins, enjoyed visiting the Finger Lakes, and relished helping children overcome their problems.

    She had planned to leave work early on Friday, he said. In a news conference Saturday, he told reporters the loss was devastating, but that Ms. Sherlach was doing what she loved.

    “Mary felt like she was doing God’s work,” he said, “working with the children.”


    Lauren Rousseau
    Lauren Rousseau


    Ms. Rousseau had spent years working as a substitute teacher and doing other jobs. So she was thrilled when she finally realized her goal this fall to become a full-time teacher at Sandy Hook.

    Her mother, Teresa Rousseau, a copy editor at the Danbury News-Times, released a statement Saturday that said state police told them just after midnight that she was among the victims.

    “Lauren wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten,” she said. “We will miss her terribly and will take comfort knowing that she had achieved that dream.”

    Her mother said she was thrilled to get the job.

    “It was the best year of her life,” she told the newspaper.

    Rousseau has been called gentle, spirited and active.

    She had planned to see The Hobbit with her boyfriend Friday and had baked cupcakes for a party they were to attend afterward.


    She once was known simply for the game nights she hosted and the holiday decorations she put up at her house. Now Nancy Lanza is known as her son’s first victim.

    Authorities say her 20-year-old son Adam gunned her down before killing 26 others at Sandy Hook. The two shared a home in Newtown.

    Court records show Ms. Lanza and her ex-husband, Peter Lanza, filed for divorce in 2008.

    A neighbor, Rhonda Cullens, recalled Ms. Lanza as “a very nice lady ... just like all the rest of us in the neighborhood, just a regular person.”