Sandy Hook School Shooting: Remembering The Victims (Part I)
Charlotte Bacon, Age 6
JoAnn Bacon had bought her daughter a new pink dress and boots for the holidays.
But Charlotte, an outgoing girl with long and curly red hair, couldn’t wait, said her uncle on her mother’s side, John Hagen, of Nisawa, Minnesota.
She kept asking to wear her new outfit.
On Friday, her mother gave in. She let her wear the dress and boots and did her hair special for the end of the school week.
Hagen said his sister “was quite happy Charlotte was able to wear her dress and boots” but no one could have imagined it would be the last day they would see her alive.
Her older brother, Guy, was also in the school but survived the shootings.
Her parents, JoAnn and Joel, who had lived in Newtown for four or five years, and their extended family felt numb after the shooting, Hagen said.
"She was going to go some places in this world," Hagen said. "This little girl could light up the room for anyone."
Daniel Barden, Age 7
Daniel Barden was an active first grader, a budding athlete who was a member of the swim team and loved to play soccer.
He was a “sweet boy,” said Karin LaBanca, whose 8-year-old daughter, Maggie, was friends with 7-year-old Daniel. The two children took the school bus together every day, she said.
Daniel’s parents were identified in public records as Jacqueline and Mark Barden.
Friends visited the family’s Sandy Hook home Saturday morning with Rich Flashman, a pastor at the Beacon Hill Evangelical Free Church in Monroe, Conn. He said he prayed with the family.
"They’re hurting," Mr. Flashman said. "They just need prayer right now. All they know is they lost their child."
Ms. LaBanca said Daniel was in the first-grade class of teacher Amanda D’Amato, who couldn’t be reached for comment.
As Maggie spoke about her friend, Ms. LaBanca, 41 years old, stood close and put her arm around her shoulders. The mother gently pushed the bangs away from her daughter’s eyes.
During the rampage, Maggie hid in a classroom with her third-grade classmates for about an hour, until police brought them to a nearby firehouse. She said she looked for Daniel there, but couldn’t find her friend.
"He likes to play foosball and soccer," Maggie said.
Ms. LaBanca, speaking of the Bardens, said: “I know that they’re just so devastated.”
Rachel Davino, Age 29
Olivia Engel, Age 6
Outside the house where Olivia Engel, 6 years old, lived, a sign asked for privacy, an increasingly common request in these streets following Friday’s mass shooting.
Olivia’s parents, Brian and Shannon Engel, also have a little boy, Brayden, 3 years old.
"It’s been a difficult day to talk to the family," a cousin, John Engel III of New Canaan, said on Saturday night. The couple have been with their parents, he said, and attended Mass on Saturday afternoon.
An outgoing girl with a ready laugh, Olivia had “a great sense of humor” and showed insight beyond her six years, according to a statement from her family. “She was a great big sister,” they said, patient with Brayden and always the one to lead grace each night at the dinner table.
Olivia loved school and excelled at math and reading. She also had a creative streak—she drew, took art and dance classes and liked to design things. “When she made us cards, you thought, ‘Wow, that came from a first-grader?’” said Mr. Engel.
A tennis player, Olivia also loved soccer and musical theater. She was a Girl Scout Daisy, the level for girls in kindergarten and first grade, was involved with her parish’s religious education program and was learning her rosary, her family said.
"Her favorite colors were purple and pink. She loved her lamb stuffed animal," her family said. "She was a grateful child who was always appreciative and never greedy."
She was, Mr. Engel said, “a tremendous little girl.”
Josephine Gay, Age 7
Josephine Gay had an innocent childhood like so many others, riding her bike in the street and setting up a lemonade stand in the summer. She had just celebrated her seventh birthday Tuesday.
Josephine loved the color purple. In memory, homes in the new subdivision of large houses, about 20 minutes from Sandy Hook Elementary School, hung purple balloons on mailboxes and gates. A neighbor recalled the family as “very kind. The girls were anxious for our kids to move in. They were very welcoming.”
Dawn Hochsprung (Sandy Hook Principal), Age 47
When the first sounds of gunshots echoed through the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday morning, Dawn Hochsprung left the safety of her office and took off running toward the shooter, who had forcibly entered through the front doors. School therapist Diane Day, who was with her when they heard a “pop, pop, pop” in the hallway, said the principal, along with psychologist Mary Sherlach and the school’s vice principal, didn’t spare a moment before running out to investigate the noise.
"They didn’t think twice about confronting or seeing what was going on," Day told The Wall Street Journal.
Only the vice principal returned, with a gunshot to the leg. She would be the only surviving victim of the attack.
On Saturday, officials in Newtown, Conn., lauded the heroism of Hochsprung, a relatively new principal, noting she had lunged toward the shooter in an attempt to overtake him before being fatally shot. A fourth-grade teacher at the school credits Hochsprung with flipping on the intercom switch, which broadcast “screaming and crying,” through the school, in order to warn teachers.
As principal of 700 students, Hochsprung had recently instituted new security measures for the school, including visual recognition for entering. Tragically, her best attempts to make the building safe weren’t enough to keep out Adam Lanza, the disturbed 20-year-old who forcibly entered the school around 9:30 that morning.
Hochsprung’s close friends aren’t surprised by the heroic actions of a woman they remember as putting her students first. In fact, long before Friday’s senseless shooting, the dedicated educator had mulled over the “what if” of a school shooting.
“We rehearsed this and we talked about this after the Columbine incident, and ironically enough, one of the things we talked about is the reasons why people do that,’’ her friend Gerald Stomski told the Today Show. “If she was here to speak, she would say that we as individuals need to reach out as our responsibility and try to reach out to these troubled people ahead of time.’’
"I don’t think you could find a more positive place to bring students to every day," Hochsprung told a local paper in 2010 when she first started at the elementary school. As news of the tragedy emerged Friday and Saturday, parents at Sandy Hook raved about a principal who truly cared about their kids—a woman who made “going to the principal’s office” a reason for excitement, not dread. “I never saw her without a smile,” Aimee Seaver, the mother of a first grader, told CNN. “I believe she had the children’s best intentions [in mind] all the time. She was always looking out for them.”
Hochsprung was a highly motivated educator, and being the principal of Sandy Hook wasn’t accomplishment enough to slow her down. Last summer, she was accepted into the doctorate program of the Esteves School of Education at the Sage Colleges in New York. The year before, she won a school grant called Sharing the Dream from the National Association of Elementary School Principals. She had also recently volunteered to co-chair the strategic planning commission for the school district.
All the while, Hochsprung maintained an air of accessibility. She was exceptionally tech savvy, updating her Twitter account with photos, articles about education, and updates from the school. “Gifted sounds like: 7-year-old to brother w/bloody nose, ‘You have to move because seriously, blood is a biohazard,’” she tweeted in late November.
The 47-year-old was also busy raising children of her own—two daughters and three stepdaughters. At the home of one of her daughters on the day of the shooting, her family told The New York Times they were “just waiting” for news. Tragically, the news that arrived only confirmed their worst fears.
Dylan Hockley, Age 6
Dylan Hockley, from Hampshire, moved with his parents and older brother to Newtown, Connecticut, two years ago.
Former neighbours in Eastleigh, Hants., said the family moved to the United States seeking a “quieter life”. They described Dylan as a faultlessly polite boy who would write notes to neighbours thanking them for gifts of chocolate.
His mother Nicole Hockley, and her husband Ian, who is from Eastleigh live almost opposite where 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who shot dead 20 children and seven adults at Sandy Brook elementary school before turning the gun on himself, lived.
Mr Hockley, who works for IBM in New York, returned to Eastleigh only last week to finalise the sale of their former home.
He visited the local pub and told friends there how well the family had settled in Newtown, Connecticut, and showed them photos of the boys.
A former neighbour, Maria Sweet, 81, lives next door to Keeper’s Lodge, the family’s home of nine years.
"When I woke up this morning and saw the news on the television my heart was just broken," the retired nanny said. "I recognised Dylan’s face straight away because of that lovely smile of his."
"He was such a lovely little boy and very intelligent too. He enjoyed school. "He was always outside on my front garden playing with his little brother, Jake.
"I would often offer him a drink and some biscuits and he’d come up to me and give me a cuddle.
"He was always so polite too. Every Christmas I would get him some chocolates - he had a very sweet tooth - and he never failed to thank me for them."
One card, sent by Dylan and his brother, reads: “Dear Mrs Sweet, thank you so much for the chocolate bars. We love chocolate. We hope you had a nice Christmas and Happy New Year and hope to see you again soon.”
Mrs Sweet added: “Ian and Nicole were wonderful people too and fantastic parents. They both had so much time for the kids and loved them so much.”
She added: “They wanted to move to America for a quieter life. I remember Nicole being really excited about going and the two boys were looking forwards to seeing their grandparents more.
"They thought it would be a nice place to bring up their children."
Prayers were said today for the family at their local church, St Nicholas’s in Eastleigh, and advent candles were lit for them during the service.
Lay preacher Professor Roger Thornton said afterwards: “The first reaction was just horror, absolute horror, that such a thing could happen.”
Mrs Hockley, a former marketing consultant, recently described Newtown as “a wonderful place to live” with “incredible” neighbours and “amazing” schools”.
Mrs Hockley, who is from Rhode Island but lived in Britain for several years, moved back to the US two years ago with her husband, and sons Jake, now eight, and Dylan, six.
In a recent interview with the local newspaper the Newtown Bee, Mrs Hockley, spoke poignantly about the joy of spending time with her children.
Having run her own marketing consultancy in the UK she said she was now making the most of life as a full-time mother.
Asked when she was most happy, she said: “I’m a pretty positive person all the time. “Being with my children is much more rewarding than I thought it would be, coming from a big career background.
“Spending time with my children gives me a lot of joy.”
Describing Newtown, she added: “This was the place, when we were driving around, where we felt happy and comfortable.
“The schools here have been amazing, and the people in my neighbourhood are incredible. “Newtown is a wonderful place to live and we’re looking forward to being here a long, long time.”
Peter Missen, 55, a former colleague of Mr Hockley, said the family decided to move to America after Mr Hockley visited on a business assignment.
"He must have liked it there because the next thing I knew the family decamped out there permanently," he said.
"We kept in touch via Facebook and he would upload various family snaps of himself with his beloved boys.
"Although Ian was a serious professional man he was happy go lucky and you could tell he was a doting dad. I feel completely devastated."
Madeleine F. Hsu, Age 6 (Picture Not Available)
Dr. Matthew Velsmid was at Madeleine’s house Saturday, tending to her stricken family. He said the family did not want to comment.
Velsmid said that after learned of the shooting, he went to the triage area to provide medical assistance but there were no injuries to treat.
“We were waiting for casualties to come out and there was nothing. There was no need unfortunately,” he said. “This is the darkest thing I’ve ever walked into by far.”
Velsmid’s daughter, who attends another school, lost three of her friends.
Catherine V. Hubbard, Age 6
On a small cul-de-sac in Sandy Hook, Conn., 6-year-old Catherine V. Hubbard lived with her family in a two-story home that on Saturday had Christmas wreaths hanging from many windows.
The first-grader was among those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday.
On Saturday, the girls’s family congregated there and asked for prayers.
"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," the family said in a statement. "We ask that you continue to pray for us and the other families who have experienced loss in this tragedy."
Chase Kowalski, Age 7
Chase 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.
Rest in Peace, You Will Never Be Forgotten!!!
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