STRATFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – Victoria Soto’s name has become synonymous with bravery and heroism in the days following the horrific shooting rampage in Newtown, Conn.
The 27-year-old teacher apparently died shielding her students from the gunfire.
WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reports
“And that was the hardest for the family of the day, it was just waiting for an answer,” one of Soto’s family members told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.
Friends and family gathered for a vigil Saturday night in Stratford to remember the young teacher and her act of bravery.
Hundreds of people stood on the front lawn of Stratford’s town hall to remember Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Vicki Soto.
She put herself between the gunman’s bullets and her students.
She helped hide as many as 16 children in her classroom before she was shot and killed.
“She died doing what she loved, protecting the kids that meant the world to her. And there are kids now that will be able to say that they are here today because she sacrificed her life so they could live another day,” Vicki’s sister Jillian Soto said at the vigil.
Soto’s family came to the candlelight vigil for support. Her parents, sisters and brother were consoled by loved ones and friends.
Friends described the young woman as a happy, enthusiastic person.
“I’d say like the sun, pretty much. She is always bright and shining. She always had a smile on her face, she never had anything bad to say about anybody,” family friend Don Ruiz told CBS 2’s Drew Levinson.
A picture of Soto, along with the story of her heroics, has gone viral on the social networking site Facebook.
Many at the vigil knew Soto, but there were others simply felt a calling to be here.
“Being a mother, that brought me here,” Stratford resident Michelle Lawson told Levinson.
Gina Fabrizio brought her three young children to the vigil.
“I wanted them to kind of see the reality of the grief and sorrow and how close it is,” she told Levinson.
The faces in the crowd reflected the heartbreak of an entire community, Levinson reported.
At the vigil, Soto’s sister urged everyone to go home and hug their loved ones because you never know when it will be your last time.
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