Remembering the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims
Six years after the shooting in Connecticut, a look back at the victims.
— -- Six years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, here is a look back at the 20 children and six educators who lost their lives that day.
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Charlotte dreamed of being a veterinarian when she grew up. The 6-year-old "never met an animal she didn't love," read her obituary. The lively first-grader also enjoyed practicing taekwondo with her brother, Guy, and her father.
"Charlotte was an extraordinarily gifted 6-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," read her obituary.
Daniel Barden, 7
Daniel was the youngest of three children, his family said in a statement. The family described Daniel as "fearless in the pursuit of happiness in life."
"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, imaginative in play, both intelligent and articulate in conversation: in all, a constant source of laughter and joy," the family added.
Rachel D'Avino, 29
Rachel D'Avino was a behavioral therapist who had only recently started working at Sandy Hook Elementary School, her friend Lissa Lovetere Stone told The Associated Press. Police told her family that D'Avino shielded one of the students during the rampage, Lovetere Stone told the AP.
Olivia Engel, 6
The 6-year-old was just learning the rosary and would lead the family in grace every night before dinner, The New Haven Register reported. Her favorite colors were pink and purple. "She was a great big sister and was always very patient with her 3-year-old brother, Brayden," her cousin John Engel told the paper. "Her father said she was a 6-year-old who had a lot to look forward to."
Josephine Gay, 7
Josephine Gay "was known for her love of all things purple," read her obituary, which asked those who attended her funeral to wear the color in her honor.
"She lived seven years, inspiring friends and family with her beautiful smile, loving heart and playful spirit," read her obituary, which also said that family and friends described her as "a gift."
Dylan Hockley, 6
"Everyone who met Dylan fell in love with him. His beaming smile would light up any room, and his laugh was the sweetest music. He loved to cuddle, play tag every morning at the bus stop with our neighbors, bounce on the trampoline, play computer games, watch movies, the color purple, seeing the moon and eating his favorite foods, especially chocolate. He was learning to read and was so proud when he read us a new book every day. He adored his big brother Jake, his best friend and role model," his family wrote on a website started in his honor.
Dylan had special needs, his parents wrote, and he died in the arms of his aide, Anne Marie Murphy. The family praised Murphy, principal Dawn Hochsprung, psychologist Mary Sherlach and his teacher Victoria Soto for truly knowing him. All four educators died in the massacre.
Madeleine Hsu, 6
According to her obituary, Madeleine was a "shy, quiet little girl who loved dogs."
"She was just an absolute doll," a neighbor, Karen Dryer, told The Associated Press. "She seemed very shy, but she was just so sweet."
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Catherine Hubbard was "a beautiful child who will be remembered for her love of all animals, her beautiful red hair and her constant smile," read the website of the foundation that was started in her honor.
Chase Kowalski, 7
"Chase was an amazing son, brother and grandson [whose] heart was only filled with love for all the people he touched," read his obituary.
"Chase loved to read and write, he would go for little hikes in the yard and find feathers and tape them in a journal and write his letters on the pages trying to describe the items," his family wrote on the website of the foundation started in his memory. He loved to run from an early age, his family said.
Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47
Hochsprung was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School and, by all accounts, was devoted to her students and teachers.
"Dawn was a dedicated teacher who inspired her students to reach their fullest potential by instilling in them the importance of life-long learning. A fierce leader and educational activist, Dawn was admired by her colleagues, students and parents, particularly for her caring and nurturing nature. She often referred to her students as her 'children' and wanted school to be a positive place and a safe haven," read her obituary.
"When we had our orientation, you could tell she loved her job," Brenda Lediski, a parent, told ABC News in 2012.
Jesse Lewis, 6
"Jesse McCord Lewis was an amazing child, full of light and love that was unmistakable in his presence. He brought joy to the world with his infectious and radiant smile," read his obituary, which said he died trying to save other children.
"If you met Jesse once, he would leave an indelible mark on your heart," his obituary stated. "The picture that remains etched in our souls is one of him in his boots, no socks, ripped jeans and a t-shirt, an army helmet strapped to his head, a smudge of dirt on his cheek, tromping through the pasture on his way from one adventure to another."
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Ana, the daughter of a jazz musician, loved music, according to her obituary.
"Ana's love for singing was evident before she was even able to talk. In a musical family, her gift for melody, pitch and rhythm stood out remarkably. She never walked anywhere! Her mode of transportation was dance. She danced from room to room and place to place. She danced to all the music she heard, whether in the air or in her head," her obituary stated.
James Mattioli, 6
"An energetic, loving friend to all, James loved baseball, basketball, swimming, arm wrestling and playing games on the iPad," read his obituary.
"He loved to wear shorts and t-shirts in any weather and grab the gel to spike his hair. He would often sing at the top of his lungs and once asked, 'How old do I have to be to sing on a stage?'" his obituary stated. "He loved and admired his big sister and wanted to do everything that she could do. They were the best of friends, going to school together, playing games together and making endless drawings and crafts together."
Grace Audrey McDonnell, 7
The artistic 7-year-old dreamed of living on Massachusetts' Martha's Vineyard and being a painter when she grew up. "We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from so many people," her family said in a statement in 2012. "Our daughter Grace was the love and light of our family. Words cannot adequately express our sense of loss."
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Anne Marie Murphy was employed as a special education teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The devoted mother and teacher died with one of her beloved students, Dylan Hockley, in her arms, Hockley's family said in a statement.
"She will be remembered for her love of the arts, walks in the outdoors and most importantly: her family," read her obituary.
Emilie Parker, 6
Emilie Parker would have been one of the first to comfort her classmates at Sandy Hook Elementary School, had a gunman's bullets not claimed her life, her father said.
"My daughter Emilie would be one of the first ones to be standing and giving her love and support to all those victims, because that's the type of person that she is," her father, Robbie Parker, said after the shooting.
"We find comfort in reflecting on the incredible person Emilie was and how many lives that she was able to touch in her short time here on earth," he added.
Jack Pinto, 6
"Jack was an incredibly loving and vivacious young boy, appreciated by all who knew him for his lively and giving spirit and steely determination," read his obituary. "In life and in death, Jack will forever be remembered for the immeasurable joy he brought to all who had the pleasure of knowing him, a joy whose wide reach belied his six short years."
Jack was a fan of New York Giants and their wide receiver Victor Cruz, who paid tribute to the 6-year-old during a game against the Atlanta Falcons in December 2012. Cruz wrote on his cleats, "Jack Pinto, my hero," and "R.I.P. Jack Pinto," ESPN reported. Cruz traveled to Newtown to meet Jack's family.
"When you hear a kid that is such a big fan of you and such a big fan of the Giants and the team, and I was his favorite player, I felt like it was only right that I pay my respects to him and be as comforting to that family as much as I can," Cruz told ESPN in 2012.
Noah Pozner, 6
"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," read his obituary.
Noah's twin sister, Arielle, who was in another class, survived.
Caroline Previdi, 6
"Caroline was our bright-eyed and cheerful little girl," her family wrote on the website of the foundation started in her honor. "The word that comes to mind when we think about her is 'joyful.' She found delight in the smallest things in life and often exclaimed things like, 'Isn't that wonderful?' We sometimes marveled at her sheer enthusiasm and zest for life. It wasn't difficult for her to elicit smiles from family, friends and even people we passed in a store; her lighthearted nature was contagious."
Jessica Rekos, 6
"Jessica Rekos was a beautiful 6-year-old girl who made us laugh every single day. She was smart, quick-witted and compassionate," her mother, Krista Rekos, wrote on the website of the foundation dedicated to her.
She loved to ride horses, her family said, and her family promised to buy her a horse for her 10th birthday.
Her mother wrote of the day Jessica was killed, "As her school bus approached our bus stop on the morning of December 14th, Jessica and I were discussing how to sell Girl Scout Cookies. This would be Jessica's first time selling, and she could not wait for January when we could 'officially' start making phone calls to friends and family. Jessica hopped out of the car as the bus approached and excitedly walked up the bus stairs. She sat in the front seat, looked at me through the window, and smiled and waved as the bus pulled up the hill."
Avielle Richman, 6
"Avielle had a grand spirit of adventure and was willing to bravely try new things," read the website of the foundation her family started in her honor. "She had no problem transitioning from playing with her dolls to practicing archery in the yard and was happy to go from a kung fu workout with dad to a cooking lesson with mom. Avielle loved music and would sing everything."
"Avielle was a connoisseur of parks and playgrounds, played soccer and went to summer sports camp (where she was the only girl to enroll), painted and sketched, ran and hiked, enjoyed fishing and — perhaps most of all — riding horses and swimming. Avielle's sense of wonder, inherent in all children, drove her to love the magic of fireflies and all things that glowed."
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Lauren Rousseau worked as a substitute teacher before landing a full-time substitute teaching position at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, The Danbury News-Times reported. For the 30-year-old, it was a dream job.
"It was the best year of her life," Teresa Rousseau, Lauren Rousseau Rousseau's mother and a copy editor at the News-Times, told the paper.
Mary Sherlach, 56
Sherlach had worked at Sandy Hook Elementary School since 1994 "doing what she termed 'God's work' by helping children who needed her the most," read her obituary.
She and her husband, Bill Sherlach, had been married for 31 years and had two adult daughters.
"Mary is remembered as a loving wife and mother and a caring soul who was always there to lend an ear or a shoulder to someone in need," her obituary stated.
The American Psychological Association published a tribute to Sherlach in 2013.
"Every day that I've known her, she has done everything in her power to take care of children, in ways large and small," Bob Lichtenstein, a former colleague of hers, told the APA in 2013.
Victoria Soto, 27
Victoria Soto, 27, loved being a teacher, her cousin Jim Wiltsie told ABC News in 2012. She died trying to save children, he said.
"The family was informed that she was trying to shield, get her children into a closet and protect them from harm, and by doing that put herself between the gunman and the children," Wiltsie said. "And that's when she was tragically shot and killed."
"Her life dream was to be a teacher. And her instincts kicked in when she saw there was harm coming to her students. It brings peace to know that Vicki was doing what she loved, protecting the children," he added. "And in our eyes, she is a hero."
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
"Ben was an irrepressibly bright and spirited boy whose love of fun and excitement at the wonders of life and the world could rarely be contained," read his obituary. "His rush to experience life was headlong, creative and immediate. He was a devoted fan of his older brother, Nate, and the two of them together filled the house with the noise of four children."
"He loved the Beatles, lighthouses and the number 7 train to Sunnyside, Queens," his obituary stated, and he told his mother before school, "I still want to be an architect, but I also want to be a paleontologist, because that's what Nate is going to be, and I want to do everything Nate does."
Allison Wyatt, 6
"Allison was a kind-hearted little girl who had a lot of love to give, and she formed special bonds with most people who spent any amount of time with her. She loved her family and teachers especially, but would often surprise us with random acts of kindness — once even offering her Goldfish crackers to a complete stranger on a cross-country flight," her parents wrote on the website of the memorial fund started in her honor.
"She was a sweet, creative, funny, intelligent little girl who had an amazing life ahead of her. Our world is a lot darker now that she's gone, but we have been finding signs of her everywhere and know that she will always be with us," her parents added.