"We lost a very special person. She was living her dream – she wanted to be a teacher, but look at the price she paid for it," Zrallack said.
"She was always a good person. I remember her back to first grade. We were in the same class in fourth grade — the Soto family was like a second family to me, and she was very family involved," said Aquiles Rodriguez of New York City.
"When I heard about the shooting, I thought that was really bad. But when I heard the story that it was her," Rodriguez said, pausing and looking to the ground. "When I heard it was her, I just got on the train to come up and be with the fam."
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Sandy Hook Elementary School, 12 Dickenson Dr, Sandy Hook, CT 06482, USA
"Hug your loved ones," Carlee Soto, one of her sisters, wrote on Twitter the morning after the shooting. "Tell them how much you love them because you never know when you'll see them again. Do this in honor of Vicki."
Benjamin Wheeler, Age 6
Even as a toddler, Benjamin Andrew Wheeler had the bright eyes and comedic timing of a performer. His father, David, was a longtime actor. His mother, Francine, recorded bouncy children's music. And Ben loved cracking them both up.
In a "happy birthday" video for Ben's grandfather — which was posted online in 2008 and featured big brother Nate drawing a green, yellow and purple birthday robot — Ben went off-script with his own improvisations. Instead of birthday wishes, he kept giving hearty shout-outs to Grandpa's wife, Kay-Kay, to his parents' clear delight.
"He was a feisty little 6-year-old," said family friend Sophfronia Scott. "He and my son loved to run and jump and throw leaves and everything you thought a young boy would love to do."
Ben was creative like his parents. He painted kid pictures and studied piano with his mother, who gives lessons. The Sunday before he died, he had a recital with fellow students.
"Spirited" is how Rabbi Shaul Praver of the Adath Israel congregation in Newtown put it. Though Ben and his family were members of Trinity Episcopal Church, they once attended a Hanukkah celebration at the synagogue.
"There's always some brave individual who goes up to the dance floor to get everybody involved," Praver said. "That was Ben Wheeler."
Ben's comedy was a hit among the under-10 set. Scott's son, Tain, 8, recalled that when they would watch TV together, Ben would offer his own voice-overs for TV characters. Ben would replace a bit of dialogue, such as "follow the flashing light," with the much more popular "follow the flashing butt."
"That's what kids do," Scott said.
The adults were some of his biggest fans.
When the grown-ups and kids gathered at David Wheeler's birthday party last year, Darryl Gregory, Scott's husband, performed a playful song titled "Too Many Kids in This House."
As Ben and the children were laughing, getting swept up in the rollicking tune, Ben cut in with a pretty important question: What does he mean there are too many kids in this house?
The house went wild.
"There were times we would say, 'Ben is smarter than all of us,' " Scott said.
On Monday, the Wheeler family released the following statement: