The 27-year-old teacher’s name has been invoked again and again as a portrait of selflessness amid unfathomable evil. Those who knew her said they weren’t surprised by reports she shielded her first-graders from danger by hiding them in a closet.
‘‘We heard at one point that they found some people hiding in a closet, and all of us said Vicki would never be hiding in a closet. She would be out there protecting those babies,’’ her mother, Donna Soto, told CBS’ ‘‘This Morning.’’
Soto said her eldest daughter, who had two younger sisters and a brother, used to joke that she was ‘‘the perfect one’’ of the siblings. They got back by calling her ‘‘The Queen V.’’
‘‘She was the best daughter any mother could ask for ... She loved her family more than anything. Teaching and her family was her life,’’ Donna Soto said.
Photos of Victoria Soto show her always with a wide smile, in pictures of her at her college graduation and in mundane daily life. She looks so young, barely an adult herself. Her goal was simply to be a teacher.
‘‘You have a teacher who cared more about her students than herself,’’ said Mayor John Harkins of Stratford, the town Soto hailed from and where more than 300 people gathered for a memorial service Saturday night. ‘‘That speaks volumes to her character, and her commitment and dedication.’’
BENJAMIN WHEELER, 6
Music surrounded Benjamin Wheeler as he grew up in a household where both his mother and father were performers.
They left behind stage careers in New York City when they moved to Newtown with Benjamin and his older brother Nate.
‘‘We knew we wanted a piece of lawn, somewhere quiet, somewhere with good schools,’’ Francine Wheeler told the Newtown Bee in a profile.
She is a music educator and singer-songwriter. Sometimes the musical mother would try out tunes on her own children, with some tunes that she made up for Ben as a baby eventually finding their way onto a CD, she told the newspaper.
In writing songs for children, melodies needn’t be simplified, she said. ‘‘I try to make it my mission to always present good music to kids.’’
Benjamin’s father, David, a former film and television actor, writes and performs still, according to a profile on the website of the Flagpole Radio Cafe theater, with which he’s performed in Newtown.
The family are members of Trinity Episcopal Church, whose website noted that Nate, also a student at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was not harmed in Friday’s shooting.
Associated Press writers Denise Lavoie, Mark Scolforo, Allen Breed, Pat Eaton-Robb, Bridget Murphy, Christopher Sullivan and Danica Coto contributed to this report.