NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The family of Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre victim Benjamin Wheeler said Monday the 6-year-old loved soccer and swimming, played piano, and hoped to be an architect or a paleontologist.
Ben was one of 20 children killed in the massacre when gunman Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday. He was born in Manhattan and moved to Newtown in April 2007 with his parents, Francine and David, and his 9-year-old brother, Nate.
Ben’s family described him as “an irrepressibly bright and spirited boy whose love of fun and excitement at the wonders of life and the world could rarely be contained. His rush to experience life was headlong, creative and immediate.”
Ben adored his older brother, Nate, and together, the pair made enough noise for four children, his family said. At school, he often ran across the soccer field long after it was necessary, but smiled and laughed as he moved the ball “nearly always at full tilt.”
Ben was also becoming a skilled swimmer and loved his lessons. He was thrilled to get to school to see his teacher and his many friends in his first grade class.
Ben was also a member of Tiger Scout Den 6, which met at the Sandy Hook Volunteer Firehouse.
Earlier in December, he performed in a piano recital, and reveled in his ability to sit long enough to play one piece.
He was a fan of the Beatles, lighthouses, and the riding the 7 subway train to Sunnyside, Queens.
Just before school Friday, Ben said, “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.”
Ben’s mother, Francine, is a music teacher and performer in Newtown, and a founder of the children’s music group the Dream Jam Band. His father, David, is an illustrator and designer, and is a member with his wife of the Flagpole Radio Café live show in Newtown.
In addition to Ben, the children killed in the massacre were:
• Charlotte Bacon, 6;
• Daniel Barden, 7;
• Olivia Engel, 6;
• Josephine Gay, 7;
• Ana Marquez-Greene, 6;
• Dylan Hockley, 6;
• Madeleine Hsu, 6;
• Catherine Hubbard, 6;
• Chase Kowalski, 7;
• Jesse Lewis, 6;
• James Mattioli, 6;
• Grace McDonnell, 7;
• Emilie Parker, 6;
• Jack Pinto, 6;
• Noah Pozner, 6;
• Caroline Previdi, 6;
• Jessica Rekos, 6;
• Avielle Richman, 6;
• Allison Wyatt, 6.
The adult victims were:
• Rachel Davino, 29;
• Dawn Hochsprung, 47, the principal of the school;
• Anne Marie Murphy, 52;
• Lauren Rousseau, 30;
• Mary Sherlach, 56, the school psychologist who planned to retire next year;
• Victoria Soto, 27, a first-grade teacher.
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