Victoria Soto, a young teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, displayed astonishing bravery and sacrificed her life saving as many children in her first grade class as she could after she came face-to-face with gunman Adam Lanza.
Victoria Soto, 27, had worked at for five years at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Her final moments were spent ushering her students into a closet when Adam Lanza entered her classroom and she tried her best to shield the children from the evil gunman.
She was a highly regarded young teacher who was popular with her pupils. One young student, Jacob Riley, said that Victoria Soto was known for chewing gum in class – something not usually allowed for teachers. He said he had often teased her about her habit and she had playfully teased him back.
“She took her kids, put them in the closet and by doing so she lost her life protecting those little ones,” Victoria Soto’s cousin, Jim Wiltsie, told ABC News.
“She was found huddled over her children, her students, doing instinctively what she knew was the right thing. 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,” he added.
A deeply distraught 10-year-old boy who is a former student of Victoria Soto described her as “really nice and funny”.
Three teachers were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School trying to save their students from gunman Adam Lanza, the son of Nancy Lanza, who worked at the school.
The other two teachers have been identified as principal Dawn Hochsprung, 47, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56.
Twenty-eight 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.