Police have released the names of the 26 people killed at the Newtown school.
The shooter, who committed suicide and his mother, Nancy Lanza, who was shot multiple times in her home before the mass shooting at the school.
Of the 26, 20 were children, all aged 6 or 7. According to medical examiners, all 20 were in first grade. There were six adults killed in the massacre, all female and aged between 27 and 56.
School staff members
Rachel D’Avino, 29
Rachel D’Avino started working at Sandy Hook Elementary School less than a week ago. Her boyfriend was set to propose to her on Christmas Eve. She just finished her coursework to become a board certified behavior analyst, working toward her goal of helping children with autism.
Rachel’s mother, Mary D’Avino, said she knew that one day Rachel would have the letters, Ph.D, following her name. Rachel was studying for her doctorate degree at University of St. Joseph’s of Hartford.
“Now instead of ‘Dr.’ in front of her name, she’ll have ‘St.’ in front of it. She’s up there with those kids,” Mary D’Avino said in a statement.
Mary D’Avino and Rachel’s sisters, Hannah and Sarah, met with President Obama on Sunday in Newtown.
“It was just so beautiful,” Mary D’Avino said of the ceremony. She said President met individually with each family and spent time talking to them.
Rachel’s aunt, Christine Carmody, recalled her niece’s love of laughter.
“She had the greatest sense of humor. She found humor in almost anything. She was almost like an actress and she loved dressing up when she was younger. She was a hoot.”
Christine Carmody also recalled Rachel’s love of animals.
“She loved her dogs, but she also loved frogs, snakes and mice – not the animals most people like,” she said.
Christine Carmody said the family knew at a young age that Rachel would become an educator.
“She always wanted to work with kids.”
D’Avino, a member of the Nonnewaug High School class of 2001, graduated from the University of Hartford and was pursuing.
She was a paraprofessional who worked with students with special needs, especially children with autism.
“She integrated these children into her daily life; often taking them into her home, hosting holidays and crafting parties for them. She taught them and treated them like family. Her maternal nature, understanding, and sense of patience with the learning disabled were truly gifts she possessed.”
Her Facebook profile is filled with images from the Star Wars movies. The day after Halloween she posted a photo of herself dressed as a Jedi. Commenting to a friend, Rachel said, “I told all the kids at school “I’m a Jedi, I’ve been one since 1983.”
The Sandy Hook Elementary School principal since 2010, Hochsprung’s friends and colleagues said she was the perfect person to lead the school. She loved her students, tweeted enthusiastically about the day-to-day activities about the school.
Hochsprung is being credited with saving several lives by running toward the sound of gunshots and trying to stop the shooter. “Literally staring down the barrel of a gun, she goes to the responsibility of protecting her children,” said James Schlegel, who was in a doctorate program with Hochsprung.
“She was everything you’d want in an educator,” said Danbury Deputy Superintendent William Glass, who hired Hochsprung as an assistant principal for Danbury in 1998. “I was struck by her intellect and her ability to think through problems and come up with wonderful solutions.’’
Her husband, George Hochsprung, is a Danbury teacher. The family lived in Woodbury with their five children in a blended family, and sailed.
Hochsprung “loved children,” said parent Donna Kowalski, who lives across from the Sandy Hook school, which her teenage daughter used to attend.
“She loved kids and kids loved her,” said Barbara Durniak, her secretary for five years in Danbury. “It’s overwhelming. She was lovely to look at and lovely to know. She knew her job and did her job well.”
A happy soul. A good mother, wife and daughter. Artistic, fun-loving, witty and hardworking. Remembering their daughter, Anne Marie Murphy, her parents had no shortage of adjectives to offer Newsday.
When news of the shooting broke, Hugh and Alice McGowan waited for word of their daughter as hour by hour ticked by. And then it came. Authorities told the couple their daughter was a hero who helped shield some of her students from the rain of bullets. As the grim news arrived, the victim’s mother reached for her rosary. “You don’t expect your daughter to be murdered,” her father told the newspaper. “It happens on TV. It happens elsewhere.”
She was killed Friday while shielding children from the shooter.
Roger Voisine was Murphy’s next-door neighbor in Wallingford until her family moved to Newtown in June 1998.
“She was a good wife, a good mother, a good neighbor,” Voisine said. “All the kids are angels, and she’s an angel, too. She’s a hero.”
Murphy had an independent spirit, evidenced when she painted her house’s shutters pink while her husband, Mike, wasn’t there, Voisine said. Perhaps she thought pink suited most of family, since she had three daughters in addition to her son, he said.
Lauren, after years of working as a substitute teacher, — while working other jobs to earn a living — landed a permanent substitute teaching job at Sandy Hook Elementary School in October.
“It was the best year of her life,” said Teresa Rousseau, Lauren’s mother and a copy editor at The News-Times.
Lauren grew up in Danbury, attending local schools before going to UConn, then getting her master’s degree in teaching from the University of Bridgeport. She lived in her family home in Danbury, with Teresa and her partner, William Leukhardt.
“She had so many interests — music, dance, theater,” her mother said.
“She was like a kid in many ways,” her father, Gilles Rousseau said. “That’s why she liked working with kids so much. She died with her little kids.”
For nearly 20 years, Mary Sherlach, had come to aid of students who needed help at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Her last act may have been in doing that again.
Sherlach, 56, had been the school psychologist at Sandy Hook since 1994. She lived in Trumbull.
Former school superintendent John Reed, who knew her well, praised her Friday as a person of great warmth, caring and intelligence.
“If there ever was a person who, by qualifications and personality, was made to work with children, to be a school psychologist, it was Mary,’’ Reed said.
That giving life ended Friday, when Sherlach was one of the six adults killed at the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. According to many reports. Sherlach and Principal Dawn Hochsprung were the first school officials to walk out into the school halls when they heard shooting. The shooter, carrying three automatic weapons, killed them in that hallway.
Sherlach’s death came a year before she was planning to retire.
Soto, 27, a 2003 graduate of Stratford High School, reportedly shielded her first-grade students from Adam Lanza’s gunfire with her own body.
According to a Facebook post being circulated by teachers, Soto was a hero.
When she became aware there was a gunman in the school, she hid her first-graders in closets and cabinets, then told the shooter they were in the gym. He turned the gun on Soto, killing her, but none of her students were harmed.
In an earlier posting on a Facebook page, Vicki Soto wrote about her life.
“In my free time I love to spend time with black lab, Roxie. I love spending time with my brother, sisters and cousins,” she wrote. “I love to spend time reading books on the beach soaking up the sun. I also love flamingos and the New York Yankees.”
Soto graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a degree in elementary education and history and was attending Southern Connecticut State University for a master’s degree in special education.
Early Friday morning, Soto went to the school library to find what she called the “perfect” book for her first-graders that day, Soto’s colleague, Yvonne Cech, the library media specialist, said Saturday.
“She was amazing and a wonderful teacher,’’ Cech said.
They were supposed to be for the holidays, but finally on Friday, after hearing much begging, Charolette Bacon. Bacon’s mother relented and let her wear the new pink dress and boots to school. It was the last outfit the outgoing redhead would ever pick out. Charolette’s older brother, Guy, was also in the school but was not shot.
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,” Hagen told the newspaper. “This little girl could light up the room for anyone.”
Her parents released a statement about their daughter:
“Charolette was an extraordinarily gifted six year old who filled her family each day with joy and love. The family will forever remember her beautiful smile, her energy for life, and the unique way she expressed her individuality usually with the color pink.
Charolette never met and animal she didn’t love, and since the age of two wanted to be a Veterinarian. She also enjoyed practicing Tae Kwon Do weekly with her Dad and brother where she relished kicking and throwing punches!”
The son of Jacqueline and Mark Barden, Daniel loved swimming and soccer, according to the Wall Street Journal. He was a “sweet boy,” Karin LaBanca told the WSJ. LaBanca’s daughter was friends with Daniel.
From his obituary:
“Daniel was the light of his family’s life. Adored and admired by all, Daniel touched the lives of all who knew him with his warmth, inspiring spirit of kindness and generosity, outgoing and affectionate nature, and his imaginative play
Daniel loved spending time with his family, both immediate and extended, riding waves at the beach, playing the drums in a band with his brother James and sister Natalie, foosball, reading, and making s’mores around the bonfire with his cousins at his Papa’s house in Smallwood, NY. Daniel was on the Newtown soccer team and the Newtown Torpedoes swim team.”
The images of Olivia Engel will live far beyond her short lifetime. There she is, visiting with Santa Claus, or feasting on a slice of birthday cake. There’s the one of her swinging a pink baseball bat, and another posing on a boat. In some, she models a pretty white dress, in others she makes a silly face.
Dan Merton, a longtime friend of the girl’s family, says he could never forget the child, and he has much to say when he thinks of her.
“She loved attention,” he said. “She had perfect manners, perfect table manners. She was the teacher’s pet, the line leader.”
Josephine Gay, 7
Josephine Gay turned 7 on Tuesday, three days before the shootings.
She loved the color purple, according to the Wall Street Journal.
A neighbor recalled the family as “very welcoming.”
A year ago, 6-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene was reveling in holiday celebrations with her extended family on her first trip to Puerto Rico. This year will be heartbreakingly different.
“Ana’s love for singing was evident before she was even able to walk,” said her father, Jimmy Green, a jazz saxophonist and member of the music faculty at Western Connecticut State University. “In a musical family, her gift for melody, pitch and rhythm stood out remarkably.”
Greene and his wife, Nelba Marquez-Greene, have another child, their son Isaiah, who was also at Sandy Hook School Friday, and escaped unharmed.
The family moved to Newtown this year after Greene was appointed assistant professor of music and assistant coordinator of jazz studies at Western. He had been teaching at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
Greene said Ana often left notes saying “I love you Mom and Dad” under her parents’ pillow.
She would not, however, accept a goodbye kiss.
“Instead, when I bent down to kiss her,” Greene said, “she would take a step backwards, poke out her lips and wait for me to lower my cheek — she made it clear that she wanted to do the kissing.”
Dylan Hockley, 6
Dylan and his family moved to Newtown two years ago from Hampshire, England, according to The Telegraph.
His mother, Nicole, was recently featured in a Newtown Bee article. Her husband, Ian, is British, and she lived there with him for 18 years.
” The schools here have been amazing,” she said. “And the people in my neighborhood are incredible. Newtown is a wonderful place to live and we’re looking forward to being here a long, long time.”
Dylan practiced martial arts and wanted a new pet.
“The kids keep bugging me for a dog, but I think we need to wait until they are a bit older,” his mom said in the interview.
Madeline F. Hsu, 6
Neighbor Karen Dryer called Madeline “very upbeat and kind,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Dryer said the 6-year-old, nicknamed Maddy, shared a ride to school with her 5-year-old son, Logan.
“She was a sweet, beautiful little girl,” Dryer told the WSJ. She said the family moved to the neighborhood within the last few years.
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
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.”
Chase Kowalski was always outside, 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,” Grimes said. Grimes’ own five children all attended Sandy Hook, too. Cars lined up outside the Kowalski’s ranch home Saturday, and a state trooper’s car idled in the driveway. Grimes spoke of the boy only in the present tense.
With 11 days left until Christmas, Chase was without both of his two front teeth.
“I saw him two days ago, and I asked him if he wanted to see Santa, and he told me that he wanted his teeth back, and it was really sweet,” Chase’s 13-year-old next-door neighbor Keeley Baumann said Saturday evening.
Keeley, who has known Chase his whole life, and is nearer in age to his two older sisters — Erin, a ninth-grader, and Brittany, a sixth-grader — choked up at times as she described the blonde-hair, blue-eyed child she’d “never get to see grow up.”
The family released a statement, saying: “We are thankful to the Lord for giving us seven years with our beautiful loving son. It is with heavy hearts that we return him to our Lord but know he is among our family and friends that have preceded him to heaven. We appreciate all of the love and support that has been extended to us.
Chase was an amazing son, brother, and grandson who’s heart was only filled with love for all the people he touched. He was a fun loving energetic boy that had a true love of life. He completed his first triathlon at the age of six and ran in many community road races. Chase had a deep love for the game of baseball and enjoyed practicing with his father and team mates. Joining the cub scouts was just one of his many interests. He could often be found in the yard playing ball, riding his bike or quad. Chase was always excited to attend the kids work shop at the Trumbull Home Depot. He was greatly loved by his family. He joins his maternal Uncle and Grandfather, his paternal great grandmother and grandmother in a much better place.”
Jesse Lewis may have been only 6 years old, but he seemed much older. A neighbor who lives next door to Jesse and his mom, Scarlet, said he was “older than his years” and was well-versed and smart.
The boy who turned 6 at the end of June was one of 20 school children to die Friday in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He loved playing in his back yard where there is a barn and pasture for horses.
Jesse “was always playing in the back yard with the horses,” said the neighbor, who asked to not be named.
Late Saturday afternoon, a woman named Lisa who keeps her horses on the property, described Jesse as a “bright, precocious little boy” who was always happy.
At Sandy Hook Diner on Church Hill Road, Saturday was a time of “hugs and tears,” said Jodi Mucherino, 51, a waitress, who recalled Jesse as a “little ball of fire.”
“He loved to order an eggs Benedict and a side of hollandaise so he could dip everything in it,” Mucherino said. “He would come in with his family every Saturday.
“But not this week.”
James Mattioli, 6
James was a “curious and wonderful” 6-year-old, said Annette Sullivan, the owner of Zoar Ridge Stables in Sandy Hook.
James would come to the stables with his sister, who would often ride at Zoar Ridge, and he always had lots of questions, said Sullivan.
“He would ask about the saddles and the brushes. He wanted to know how to take care of the horses. He was a boy that wanted to know how everything worked,” said Sullivan.
His family said he loved baseball, basketball, swimming arm wrestling and playing on his iPad. He wore shorts and T-shirts in any weather and spiked his hair. He would sing at the top of his lungs and ask when he would be old enough to sing on stage.
James loved to dive off the diving board at Treadwell Pool, swim like a fish and ride his bike while outside, enjoying the fresh air.
“They were the best of friends, going to school together, playing games together, and making endless drawings and crafts together. James was working very hard to advance his reading in 1st Grade and his sister Anna was his endless partner in supporting this effort and challenging him to read more and more difficult words,” his family said in his obituary.
James was born four weeks early and his family would quip that it was because he was hungry.
“He loved hamburgers with ketchup, his Dad’s egg omelets with bacon, and his Mom’s french toast. He often asked to stop at Subway for dinner for a ham sandwich, and wanted to know how old he needed to be to order a ‘footlong’ sandwich. James was an early-riser, always the first to wake the family up, ready to start the day and get dressed.
He loved to ‘cuddle’ on the couch at the end of the day with his Mom grabbing his pillow and brown fleece blanket. He adored spending time with his Dad doing yard work, walking at Fairfield Hills and watching him grill burgers on the deck.
If Dad was outside, James wanted to be right there with him. Their love of one another was one of a kind and James was his Dad’s mini look-a-like.”
Grace McDonnell, 7
“We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from so many people,” the family said in a statement. “Our daughter Grace was the love and light of our family. Words cannot adequately express our sense of loss.”
Robbie Parker said his daughter “would be one of the first ones offering sympathy and giving support to those affected by this — not because of anything my wife or I have done, but because of her wonderful, God-given gifts.”
“As the deep pain begins to settle into our hears, we find comfort in the incredible person that Emilie was and how many lives she was able to touch in her short time here on earth,” said Parker.
“Emilie was … bright, creative and very loving, always able to try new things — except foods,” Robbie Parker said. “She was an exceptional artist, always carrying markers and pencils to create cards.
Anytime someone was suffering, her father said, Emilie would make them a card. She recently made a particularly meaningful one, he said, to ride in the casket of her grandfather, who was killed in an accident.
Emilie’s younger sisters, 3 and 4 years old, “looked up to her for comfort,” Parker said. “It was cute to see how, if one fell or had her feelings hurt, she would look to Emilie for comfort.”
Parker, a physicians’ assistant at Danbury Hospital, said that, as Emilie would have, he sympathized with the families of all of Friday’s shooting victims.
His daughter, “beautiful, blond, always smiling, with bright blue eyes,” had kind words for an about everyone, Parker said.
Noah was “smart as a whip,” gentle but with a rambunctious streak, said his uncle, Alexis Haller of Woodinville, Wash.
Noah’s twin sister Arielle, assigned to a different classroom, survived the shooting. He called her his best friend, and with their 8-year-old sister, Sophia, they were inseparable.
“They were always playing together, they loved to do things together,” Haller said. When his mother, a nurse, would tell him she loved him, he would answer, “Not as much as I love you, Mom.”
His family, in Noah’s obituary, wrote: “How do you capture the essence of a six year old in just a few words ? Noah was an impish, larger than life little boy. Everything he did conveyed action and energy through love. He was the light of our family, a little soul devoid of spite and meanness.”
Caroline Previdi, 6
Caroline once went by the nickname “Boo” because she looked like the girl character in the movie “Monsters, Inc.,” said one family friend, who declined to be named, to the Washington Post.
Her family said she loved to draw and dance. Her smile brought happiness to everyone she touched.
Jessica Rekos, 6
Jessica was the daughter of a teacher. Her mother teaches sixth grade in Bridgeport. A photo of a brightly smiling Jessica, with her brother, lights up the Facebook page of her mother, Krista.
She was a lifelong resident of Sandy Hook.
Jessica loved horseback riding, learning about orcas, writing, and playing with her little brothers.
Avielle Richman, 6
Avielle loved riding horses. Her trainer, Annette Sullivan, the owner of Zoar Ridge Stables in Sandy Hook, said she would “giggle when she trotted” and liked to wear her pink cowboy boots.
Sullivan said that 6-year-old Avielle wanted an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas, “because she wanted to be able to make her mom cookies.”
“Her smile could get her out of anything,” said Sullivan, and she was on the verge of losing her first tooth.
“She showed me her wiggly tooth, she was so excited,” said Sullivan. “She was the most delightful little girl you ever met in your life.”
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Benjamin’s family moved to Newtown last April.
Neighbors Peter and Jackie Bearce visited the Wheeler home Sunday to deliver their condolences, a batch of cookies and a bouquet of flowers but didn’t see their neighbors, Francine and David. Jackie said she saw Benjamin every morning as he waited for the bus with his mother.
The dark-haired boy would also follow his father around the yard as he performed chores, handing him tools or picking up sticks from the ground, said Peter Bearce. Benjamin’s mother and father are both entertainers. Francine sings in a children’s music group, while David is a writer and performer on stage.
On Francine’s band’s Facebook page, the following message was posted Sunday: “With heavy hearts, we inform you of our saddest news: Francine Wheeler, a founding member of The Dream Jam Band, has lost her precious 6-year old son, Ben, to the tragedy in Newtown Connecticut. Our prayers and love go out to Francine, David and Ben’s big brother, Nate.”
Alison Wyatt, 6
Allison turned 6 in July and had shoulder-length brown hair.
An emotional next door neighbor Ana, who asked that her last name not to be used, described Allison as a “very nice person.”
Ana, whose house is located about 30 yards from the Wyatt house, added, that Allison liked to garden with her mother and was always outside in the summer.
“I’m so sad now,” Ana said. Ana’s daughter Jeydy, who is a few years older than Allison, used to play with Allison. She said her fallen friend “was kind, nice and outgoing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.