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Sunnyside Gathers To Pay Tribute To Newtown Victim Ben Wheeler

Ben Wheeler Memorial

A memorial vigil in Queens for Sandy Hook massacre victim Ben Wheeler. (Credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre victim Ben Wheeler was remembered Tuesday evening in his old Queens neighborhood.

As 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported, those who knew Ben, his parents and brother when they lived in Sunnyside came together holding candles and listening to the music of Francine Wheeler, Ben’s mom, who also happens to be a children’s music singer.

A children’s choir also sang “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen in honor of the fallen 6-year-old.

1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon Reports

PHOTOS: Newtown Shooting Victims

They also heard her voice through her friend, Gretchen Schmelz, who said even though little Ben was only a baby when the family moved to Connecticut, he moved Queens.

Ben Wheeler Memorial

A memorial vigil in Queens for Sandy Hook massacre victim Ben Wheeler. (Credit: Sonia Rincon/1010 WINS)

“He rode the 7 Train every time we visited New York. He was more interested in the subways than the museums and the zoos, and because he always wanted to do everything his brother did, he decided he knew Sunnyside and pretended that he remembered,” Schmelz read.

Heather Waldon has children the same age as Ben and his brother, Nate.

“Francine and David are wonderful parents, and they were great friends,” she said. “The tragedy in this is huge because the children were so young, and they’re so trusting at this age, and what happened in that room I can’t imagine.”

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.

The stepsister of Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung also lives in Sunnyside, and came out to pay tribute.

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