Former Students Call Slain Newtown Teacher 'The Best'

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A man carries flowers at the Newtown firehouse next to Sandy Hook School in Newtown.
A man carries flowers at the Newtown firehouse next to Sandy Hook School in Newtown. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch

NEWTOWN, Conn. — Former students of one of the teachers who died in the shooting at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary Friday called her "a great lady." 

"She was the best. She was a great lady and everyone loved her," Olivia Mubarek, a seventh grader who attended Sandy Hook School, said of Victoria Soto, who is reported to have died Friday. 

The Mubareks were looking at makeshift memorials set up outside St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown Saturday. Olivia and her sister Tess are also former students of the teacher who was wounded but survived the shooting.

Tess said their middle school in Newtown was put on lockdown Friday. 

"Nobody knew what was happening. We thought it was a bank robbery," Tess said, recalling a time when their school was locked down a few years ago because of a bank robbery. "I give them a bunch of credit for evacuating school the way they day."

Their mother, Kerri, said the family had talked about the shooting and, along with the girls, decided to release 20 yellow balloons for the children killed and six blue balloons for the adults who died. 

Newtown resident Darla Henggler, whose grown children attended Sandy Hook, was also visiting the memorials at the church. 

"My two boys went there — it was a beautiful school with beautiful teachers," Henggler said. Of the parents who lost their children, she added, "They couldn't even hold their babies to say good-bye." 

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