Out of the chaos and horror emerged an incredible act of selflessness and bravery by one teacher who spent her final moments trying to protect her young students from harm.
A young teacher, Victoria Soto, saved as many of her first grade students as she could on Friday Dec. 14 when she threw her body in front of masked gunman Adam Lanza. The 27-year-old teacher died after getting shot.
Twenty-seven people died in the shooting rampage, including 20 young children between the ages of five and ten, alleged gunman Adam Lanza, who took his own life, and his mother, who was shot before the school massacre, the Daily Mail says.
Victoria’s final moments of life allegedly involved her rushing her entire class into a closet as Adam entered her classroom. She tried her best to shield the students from the evil killer.
Her desire to educate started at an early age, those close to the teacher said.
The Guardian reports, Soto was also studying for a master’s degree in special education at Southern Connecticut State University. She graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with an elementary education and history degree.
“I look forward to an amazing year in the first grade with my amazing students of room 10!” she wrote.
“She was found huddled over her children, her students, doing instinctively what she knew was the right thing,” her cousin Jim Wiltsie tells ABC News. “I’m just proud that Vicki had the instincts to protect her kids from harm,” he continued. “It brings peace to know that Vicki was doing what she loved, protecting the children, and, in our eyes, she’s a hero.”
A friend posted a tribute to Miss Soto on her Tumblr account. In her tribute she wrote: “I talked to Vicki Tuesday and she told me that she loved her 16 angels and never wanted to let them go. Today when the shooting started Vicki hid her kids in closets and when the gunman came into her room she told them the class was in gym. She was then murdered. Not one of her students were harmed. Words can not express how heartbreaking and tragic this is. I will miss you dearly.”
The other three teachers have been identified as principal Dawn Hochsprung, 47, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, and Lauren Rousseau, 30. Devastated friends of Rousseau said she was having ‘the best year of her life’ after landing her first full-time teaching job only months ago.
They lost their lives when alleged gunman Adam Lanza, went on a shooting rampage before shooting himself.
On Dec. 14, President Barack Obama addressed a shaken and frightened nation, speaking not as a politician, but as a fellow parent. Overcome with his own grief, he had to take a moment to regain his composure and wipe tears from his eyes. “Tonight Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, we will hug our children a little tighter. And we will tell them that we love them,” he said.