Vicki Soto, Sandy Hook Teacher, Dies Protecting Kids Huddled In Closet

Vicki Soto is one of the first identified victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, and many have taken to Facebook to hail the slain teacher as a hero in the wake of the tragedy.

Vicki Soto was just 27, a first grade teacher in Newtown confronted with the situation all of us charged with kids — whether our own or students — hope never to face. And Soto, in that moment, knew she wasn’t entirely able to keep her students safe.

A 27-year-old like Vicki is in many ways just embarking on life themselves — maybe getting married, starting to think about kids, just a scant few years out of college. Soto’s name first began circulating with a tweet from her sister, Carlee, who has since asked for privacy due to multiple interview requests.

But last night when Carlee tweeted about Vicki’s death, little was known about the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, and now we know. Vicki Soto barricaded her first grade class in a closet when gunfire broke out.

And then she blocked the door with her own body, becoming one of the six school staffers who died protecting the 600 students at the school. Reports indicate that Soto told gunman Adam Lanza that her class of students were in the gym before he shot and killed her.

Vicki Soto’s cousin James Wiltsie spoke to ABC this morning about the teacher, saying:

“From what we’ve been told, my cousin, Vicki, and her first grade classroom, took her students and huddled them into a closet. And then, shielded the children in the closet, trying to protect them from bullets… Put herself between the gunman and the kids.”

Wiltsie continues:

“Her life dream was to be a teacher. And her instincts kicked in. And protected her children from the harm that was coming… “

vicki soto interview

Earlier yesterday, Soto’s sister Carlee tweeted:

New town shooting. 20 students and 6 adults dead. My sister died protecting her students. God why do you take her?

— Carlee Soto (@ICarlee23) December 14, 2012

Below is a video of Vicki Soto’s cousin speaking about her life-saving decision to protect the kids from gunfire. A memorial page on Facebook for Vicki Soto currently has more than 1,700 likes.

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