Sandy Hook: Firefighters salute Daniel, 7; teacher has hero’s honor

A family member embraces the members of a police color guard before the arrival of the casket at the funeral for Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Victoria Soto at the Lordship Community Church in Stratford, Conn.
(C.J. Gunther/EPA)

NEWTOWN, Conn -- Daniel Barden wanted to be a fireman like his father’s cousins in New York City, whom he idolized.

So it was only fitting that at Wednesday’s funeral for Barden, one of the young victims in the Sandy Hook massacre, dozens of firefighters joined the crowd of mourners.

The New York firefighters were clad in dress blue uniforms, many with white gloves, at the Wednesday morning at funeral services for 7-year-old Daniel.


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Twenty children and six adults were killed Friday morning when a gunman, identified by police as Adam Lanza, invaded Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The first-grader, frozen in time with a gap-toothed smile in a photo distributed by his family, was to be remembered in a morning service at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown and then laid to rest. Firefighters gathered outside the red-brick church, standing silently alongside the black hearse as mourners filed in.

“This is a part of our extended family,” said Lt. Eddie Boles, who works with Daniel’s cousins as a firefighter in New York, about 65 miles south of Newtown. “After 9/11 the whole country extended its sympathy to New York so we’re here to show our support for this community.”

Daniel, who had a brother and sister, was described by loved ones as “the light of his family’s life” and an active boy who played soccer and swam on the Newtown Torpedoes swim team.

“Daniel loved spending time with his family, both immediate and extended, riding waves at the beach, playing the drums in a band with his brother James and sister Natalie, foosball, reading, and making s’mores around the bonfire with his cousins at his Papa’s house in Smallwood, N.Y.,” his family wrote in an obituary notice.

Later Wednesday, funeral services were also due to be held for students Charlotte Bacon and Caroline Previdi in Newtown, and Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung in Woodbury, Conn.

In a prepared statement, the family of one of the slain children, Dylan Hockley, praised the town and the school’s staff for taking the British family to their hearts.

“Sandy Hook and Newtown have warmly welcomed us since we moved here two years ago from England. We specifically chose Sandy Hook for the community and the elementary school. We do not and shall never regret this choice. Our boys have flourished here and our family’s happiness has been limitless,” the family said in a statement released via the British Foreign Office.

“We cannot speak highly enough of Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, exceptional women who knew both our children and who specifically helped us navigate Dylan’s special education needs. Dylan’s teacher, Vicki Soto, was warm and funny and Dylan loved her dearly.”

The trio were among the adults killed in the rampage, trying to protect students. Also among the dead was a teacher’s aide who tried to save Dylan.

“We take great comfort in knowing that Dylan was not alone when he died, but was wrapped in the arms of his amazing aide, Anne Marie Murphy. Dylan loved Mrs. Murphy so much and pointed at her picture on our refrigerator every day. Though our hearts break for Dylan, they are also filled with love for these and the other beautiful women who all selflessly died trying to save our children,” the family said.

In Washington, President Obama was expected to formally announce that Vice President Joe Biden will lead an administration group to develop proposals in response to the shooting.

On Sunday, Obama said in Newtown that he would “use whatever power this office holds” to prevent gun-related tragedies. He gave no specifics, but in recent days aides have said that among the proposals could be a resumption of the ban on assault weapons and possibly on high-capacity ammunition clips.


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Bengali reported from Newtown and Chu from London.