Photos: Remembering the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting victims
Emilie Parker, 6 (Photo: Emilie Parker Fund Facebook Page)
(CNN) — The victims of the Connecticut school shooting ranged in ages 6 to 56, according to information released by state police.
Police said all six adults killed at the school were women. Of the 20 children that were killed, eight were boys and 12 were girls. Police said 16 of the children were 6 years old, while the other four turned 7 in just the last few months.
The victims include:
Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47
Hochsprung, who became Sandy Hook Elementary School’s principal two years ago, was
“really nice and very fun, but she was also very much a tough lady in the right sort of sense,” friend Tom Prunty said. And the students loved her. “Even little kids know when someone cares about them, and that was her,” Prunty said.
“I never saw her without a smile,” said Aimee Seaver, mother of a first-grader.
Hochsprung lived in Woodbury, Connecticut, with her husband, two daughters and three stepdaughters.
The longtime career educator majored in special education for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the 1990s and had just entered the Ph.D. program at Esteves School of Education at the Sage Colleges in New York last summer. Hochsprung led a school district’s strategic planning panel and was the recipient of a national school grant.
Her accomplishments included overseeing the installation of a new security system requiring every visitor to ring the front entrance’s doorbell after the school doors locked at 9:30 a.m.
Mary Sherlach, 56
Sherlach, Sandy Hook Elementary’s school psychologist, was with Hochsprung when they heard a “pop, pop, pop” sound around 9:30 a.m., a parent with both women at the time told CNN. Sherlach was shot to death after heading into the hall to find out what was happening.
“I … am always ready to assist in problem-solving, intervention and prevention,” Sherlach wrote on her website.
Sherlach earned her undergraduate degree in psychology at SUNY Cortland and a master’s degree at Southern Connecticut State University.
She worked as a rehabilitation assistant at a group home for disabled adults and as a community mental health placement specialist before becoming a school psychologist.
She worked in three Connecticut school systems before moving to Sandy Hook Elementary in 1994. During her time in Newtown, Sherlach kept busy as a member of numerous groups such as the district conflict resolution committee, safe school climate committee, crisis intervention team and student instructional team.
Sherlach and her husband for more than three decades lived in Trumbull, Connecticut, and, together, they were “proud parents” of two daughters in their late 20s. Her website listed her interests as gardening, reading and going to the theater.
Lauren Russeau, 30
Russeau, a permanent substitute teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, “wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten,” her mother said in a written statement Saturday. “We will miss her terribly and will take comfort knowing that she had achieved that dream,” Teresa Russeau said.
She grew up in Danbury, Connecticut, and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Bridgeport.
Russeau “worked as a substitute teacher in Danbury, New Milford and Newtown before she was hired in November as a permanent substitute teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown,” her mother’s statement said.
Victoria Soto, 27
Soto, a first grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, moved her students away from the classroom door when she heard gunfire, which students initially “thought were hammers falling,” according to the father of one of her students.
Her students were huddled behind her in a corner of the classroom, her family said.
“That’s when the gunman burst in, did not say a word, no facial expressions, and proceeded to shoot their teacher,” said Robert Licata, whose 6-year-old son Aiden escaped by running past the shooter.
“She instinctively went into action when a monster came into her classroom and tried to protect the kids that she loved so much,” her cousin, James Wiltsie, said. “We just want the public to know that Vicki was a hero.”
While Soto had no children of her own, she did love her dog. The black lab Roxie spent Saturday wondering around Soto’s apartment, apparently looking for her, relatives said.
Emilie Parker, 6
Emilie “was the type of person who could light up a room,” her father told reporters Saturday. His oldest daughter was “bright, creative and very loving,” and “always willing to try new things other than food,” Robbie Parker said.
“Emilie Alice Parker was the sweetest little girl I’ve ever known,” her aunt, Jill Cottle
Garrett, said. The family is devastated that “someone so beautiful and perfect is no longer going to be in our lives and for no reason,” Garrett said.
“My daugher Emilie would be one of the first ones to be standing up and giving her love and support to all of those victims, because that is the type of person she is,” her father said. She was “an exceptional artist and she always carried around her markers and pencils so she never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for someone.”
She placed one of her cards in the casket at the funeral of her grandfather, who recently died in an accident, Parker said.
Emilie’s “laughter was infectious,” he said. “This world is a better place because she has been in it.”
Her father, who works as a physician’s assistant in the newborn unit at the Danbury hospital, said his last conversation with his daughter was in Portuguese, a language he was teaching her.
“She said that she loved me and I gave her a kiss and I was out the door,” he said.
Emilie was a mentor to her two younger sisters — ages 3 and 4 — and “they looked to her when they needed comfort,” her father said.
A Facebook page was created to collect donations to help pay expenses to take Emilie back to her native Utah for burial, her aunt said.
Olivia Engel, 6
Her family called Olivia “a precocious and completely endearing” child. In a posting on Facebook, her family said she “loved school, and was very good at math and reading.
She was creative, loved craft projects and art class, and loved participating in as many sports and activities as her mom Shannon could get her to — from tennis to swimming, ballet to soccer, Daisy Girl Scouts to musical theater, and her church’s CCD program, nothing was off limits for the little girl whose favorite colors were pink and purple.
She was a patient big sister to three-year old Brayden,” leading grace each evening at the dinner table, and was a six-year old with a lot to look forward to, according to her dad, Brian.
Nancy Lanza, 52
Before the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother — Nancy — in her home in Newtown’s Sandy Hook community, authorities said. Adam was living with his mother, two law enforcement sources said. The other son, Ryan, was living in New Jersey.
Nancy Lanza was a personable neighbor who lived on a block of spacious houses on a
crest overlooking gentle hills, acquaintances said. She and her family moved to the Sandy Hook neighborhood about 1998, raising two sons with husband Peter until the couple separated a few years ago. “It was just a nice, normal family,” neighbor Rhonda Cullen said Saturday, recalling a recurring neighborhood ladies night over the Bunco dice game.
At odds with this image of New England gentility was how the Lanza household possessed of a cache of weapons — including an assault-style rifle and two handguns — in a community prized for its stillness.
Neighbor Gina McDade said Nancy Lanza was a “stay-at home mom” and not a teacher or part-time employee of Sandy Hook Elementary, as some media reports stated.
Jessica Rekos, 6
Jessica loved everything about horses — horse movies, horse books, drawing horses and writing stories about them.
She asked Santa this year for new cowgirl boots and a cowgirl hat. Her family had promised she could get her own horse when she turned 10.
“She was a creative, beautiful, little girl,” her family said in a statement, describing Jessica as their “rock.”
“She had an answer for everything, she didn’t miss a trick, and she outsmarted us every time. We called her our little CEO for the way she carefully thought out and planned everything,” they said. “We can not imagine our life without her.”
Jessica also loved orca whales and playing with her two little brothers.
“We are mourning her loss, sharing our beautiful memories we have of her, and trying to help her brother Travis understand why he can’t play with his best friend,” her family said.
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Charlotte was sweet, outgoing and full of energy, her grandmother told CNN affiliate WCCO in Minnesota.
“This is tough. This is surreal. You can’t believe this could happen,” Irene Hagen told the
network. “The whole family is just devastated and we’re all trying to come to terms with it.”
She said her granddaughter loved school and dresses. Her hair was a mass of beautiful red curls.
“It’s horrible. It’s really horrible,” Hagen told WCCO. “It’s hard to believe that someone would kill children, innocent children.”
Dylan Hockley, 6
“To know him was to love him,” Dylan’s grandmother told the Boston Herald about her grandson.
Dylan loved video games, jumping on a trampoline, watching movies and munching garlic bread, she said. He had dimples, blue eyes and “the most mischievous little grin,” Theresa Moretti told the newspaper.
She said her daughter and son-in-law moved to Connecticut from England and chose to live where they did because of the schools. Dylan had an older brother.
“He was an angel,” Moretti told the Herald. “And I think that’s now why he’s in heaven.”
Noah Pozner, 6
“He had a huge heart and he was so much fun, a little bit rambunctious, lots of spirit,” Noah’s aunt told CNN. “He was really the light of the room.”
Victoria Haller said her nephew loved playing with his cousins and siblings, especially his
“He was a gorgeous, gorgeous boy and he could really get what he wanted just by batting those long eyelashes and looking at you with those big blue eyes. You really couldn’t say no to him,” she said.
His siblings don’t know yet the exact way in which Noah passed away, Haller said.
“How do you tell them that’s how their brother died?” she asked. “It’s the unthinkable really.”
The names of those killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary school were released by state police on Saturday. The list includes full names of children only when parents have spoken publicly:
- Charlotte, 6
- Daniel, 7
- Rachel Davino, 29
- Olivia, 6
- Josephine, 7
- Ana, 6
- Dylan, 6
- Dawn Hocksprung, 47
- Madeleine, 6
- Catherine, 6
- Chase, 7
- Jesse, 6
- James, 6
- Grace, 7
- Anne Marie Murphy, 52
- Emilie Parker, 6
- Jack, 6
- Noah, 6
- Caroline, 6
- Jessica, 6
- Avielle, 6
- Lauren Russeau, 30
- Mary Sherlach, 56
- Victoria Soto, 27
- Benjamin, 6
- Allison, 6