Photo: Victoria Soto
“She will always be our hero” was the statement on a poster at the entrance of the church on Wednesday at the funeral of Victoria Soto, one of the victims of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, who lost her life saving her students from the assault-rifle rampage of Adam Lanza.
Hundreds of people attended the ceremony to say goodbye to the 27-year-old Puerto Rico-born teacher.
“I hope that Victoria’s life at least serves to get the lawmakers to do something to regulate weapons and prevent something like this from happening again,” her cousin, Rev. Soto, told Efe at the church.
“Faith is the only thing left to us to get through times like these,” he added.
The body of the teacher was brought to the Community of God church accompanied by dozens of police cars and motorcycles, a huge security presence and the music of bagpipers.
Soto’s family members, who have given no statements to the media, were accompanied by hundreds of neighbors and friends who surrounded the church in Stratford, Connecticut, where her parents live, and listened to the funeral service being broadcast from within.
According to what some of her students said, Soto hid them in a closet when she first heard gunfire from within the school, and she went looking for Lanza and told him that the kids from her class were in the gymnasium, whereupon he shot her dead.
The teacher’s sister, Carlee Soto, said that the love she had for her students always showed in her smiling face.
“They always caused her to smile. She loved her students more than anything. She didn’t call them her students. She called them her children,” Carlee said.
Soto had been teaching class at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown for five years after deciding to follow in the footsteps of her aunt, who was also a teacher.