A teacher who died trying to protect her children in Sandy Hook school has been described as a dedicated educator who had her dream job.
Victoria Soto, 27, was one of six adults and 20 children killed in the elementary school shooting on Friday.
It is thought Soto died trying to shield her students. According to a cousin, Jim Wiltsie, a police officer, said the family had been told that Soto was attempting to get her class into a closet when the gunman entered the room. "In our eyes, she's a hero," Wiltsie told ABC News.
"She was trying to shield, getting her children into a closet and protect them from harm. And by doing that put herself between the gunman and the children and that is when she was tragically shot and killed."
Wiltsie said the family had taken some comfort in knowing that Soto died while doing a job that she loved.
"Her life dream was to be a teacher and her instincts kicked in when she saw there was harm coming towards her students," he told ABC News, adding: "She lost her life doing what she loved. She loved her kids. Her goal in life was to be a teacher to mould young minds."
Her desire to educate started at an early age, those close to the teacher said. As well as teaching first grade, Soto was also studying for a master's degree in special education at Southern Connecticut State University. She graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with an elementary education and history degree. "I have a passion for learning," she wrote on her online teacher's page.
Soto listed her passions outside school as spending time with family members, along with her dog, a black Labrador named Roxie. Soto had been at the school for five years, first as an intern, then as a classroom teacher.
"I look forward to an amazing year in the first grade with my amazing students of room 10!" she wrote