Sandy Hook Tragedy Hurts So Many – Everywhere


Two Latino families are sharing in the horror that was Friday’s mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown as they mourn the deaths of their daughters: one a dedicated teacher and the other an innocent first-grade student.
Victoria “Vicki” Soto, 27
Media reports from around the world are hailing Victoria “Vicki” Soto, 27, of Stratford for her heroic actions. According to the New York Daily News,  Soto “used her body to shield her students from the maniacal gunman.”
“The family received information she was found shielding her students in a closet,” Soto’s cousin Jim Wiltsie, a Fairfield police officer, told the Daily News. “She put herself between the gunman and her students.”
Her mom, Donna, has worked as a nurse at Bridgeport Hospital for 30 years. Her dad, Carlos, is a crane operator for the state’s Department of Transportation, the Daily News reported. “Vicki, as everybody called her, was the apple of her father’s eye. And it was left to him to formally identify his daughter’s body,” the article said.
“I want to get this out there,” Wiltsie said. “Instead of her just being a statistic or number on a piece of paper, I want people to know Vicki’s story and put a face behind what she did for those kids.”
What she did for her students was hide them according in a closet so the the gunman would not see them, according to The Hartford Courant. “When [the shooter] demanded to know where the children were, Soto tried to divert him to the other end of the school by saying that her students were in the auditorium.
“But six of Soto’s students tried to flee. [The killer] shot them, Soto and another teacher who was in the room. Later, in their search for survivors, police found the remaining seven of Soto’s students still hiding in the closet. They told the police what had happened.”
Ana Grace Marquez-Greene
Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, 6, daughter of jazz musician and teacher Jimmy Greene, 37, and his wife Nelba Marquez Greene, died in the shootings. Her family had recently relocated to Connecticut from Canada where her father was on the faculty of a university. He is Jimmy Green,  a renowned saxophonist who grew up in East Hartford and Bloomfield. His mother, Rene Simmons, is well known in Hartford circles and is a retired state employee. She was said to be so happy when the family moved back to Connecticut this past year.
Her grandmother Elba Iris Marquez was a teacher in Connecticut before retiring to Puerto Rico, and she herself had helped them choose the quiet, nice town of Newtown. Ana’s great uncle, Jorge Marquez  is the mayor of Maunabo, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican newspapers reported that the family knew early on that Ana’s older brother, who also attended the school, was safe, but learned hours later Ana had been one of the children killed.
She was described “as an incredibly loving and spunky kid” who loved to sing and dance, a close family friend said Saturday on the Long Beach (Calif.) Press Telegram website. Ana, 6, was “really vivacious and affectionate,” said Noah Baerman, a Connecticut jazz pianist who has known Jimmy Greene, Ana’s father, since both men were in high school.
“I want to believe this is not really happening to me,” said the little girl’s grandmother, Elba Iris Marquez, who was described by El Nuevo Diario (link in Spanish) as drowned in grief and disconsolate. She said her granddaughter also had a heart condition and was scheduled to have surgery soon.
The Ottawa Citizen website posted a Facebook message from Ana’s father: “Thank you for all of your prayers and kind words of support. As we work through this nightmare, we’re reminded how much we’re loved and supported on this earth and by our Father in heaven. As much as she’s needed here and missed by her mother, brother and me, Ana beat us all to paradise. I love you sweetie girl.”
Baerman declined to discuss how the family was coping with the loss. But “this is one of the most loving and caring families I’ve ever known, and it’s incomprehensible that this could happen,” he said.
The Greene-Marquez family moved to Newtown earlier this year so Green, could take a job as a music professor and assistant coordinator of the Jazz Program at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. He previously had spent three years teaching at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.