Memorial Fund Established to Honor Young Teacher Killed in Newtown

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by Sharon Rondeau

Founded in 1889, Eastern Connecticut State University was formerly part of the Connecticut State Teachers’ College system

(Dec. 19, 2012) — On Friday, 28 people lost their lives in what the government reports was an invasion of an elementary school in Newtown, CT by a heavily-armed 20-year-old man.

The Connecticut State Police have not provided much information to the public on how the perpetrator was able to enter the school when a security system of sorts had been put in place.  Newtown Police and the Connecticut State Police worked together after receiving the emergency call at approximately 9:38 a.m. on December 14.

After the victims were identified, Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) announced that it would establish a memorial fund for teacher Victoria Soto, who was a 2008 alumna of the school located in Willimantic, CT.

Those wishing to apply for a pistol permit in Connecticut must provide “proof you are legally and lawfully in the United States, such as a birth certificate, or U.S. Passport. Legal Alien Residents must provide Alien Registration numbers and 90-day proof of residency.  Naturalized citizens require proof of citizenship.”  Criminals, illegal aliens and those diagnosed with mental illness are not legally permitted to obtain a pistol permit in Connecticut.  The ownership of assault weapons is already restricted to law enforcement and members of the military.

Immediately following the deadly incident, the media began to suggest that Congress and Obama would take action to make purchasing a firearm more difficult.  Following the massacre, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said that Connecticut gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation but that they “don’t go far enough.”  Malloy indicated that he is looking for federal and additional local legislation to augment the state’s existing gun laws, including an assault weapons ban.

Connecticut schools are “gun-free zones” where only police can carry weapons on campus. Larry Pratt, President of Gun Owners of America, believes that “gun-free zones” attract criminals intent on doing harm.  A California professor of psychology maintains that public schools are safer now than in previous decades.  Questions remain as to whether or not criminals obey existing gun laws, let alone new ones.  The Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights states that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Many Americans acquire firearms legally for self-protection.  Recent estimates report that nearly half of all American households possess a firearm.

A bill passed by the Michigan legislature to allow guns at schools and theaters was vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder, who recently signed right-to-work legislation, causing his daughter to be threatened.

Since the Newtown atrocity, school systems throughout the country have said they would review their security procedures.

The governors of Virginia and Texas said they would consider legislation to allow trained teachers to carry guns to stop would-be perpetrators on campuses.

The text of the announcement of the fund to honor Soto reads as follows:

December 17, 2012

 Dear Alumni:

On Friday, December 14, Eastern Connecticut alumna Victoria Leigh Soto, an Eastern 2008 Alum, lost her life protecting her first-grade students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, from the assailant who shot and killed 20 children and seven adults that day.  Victoria is being recognized literally across the world for her heroism that day.

I want to thank all of the faculty, staff, students, and alumni who have offered their condolences and their thoughtful suggestions for keeping Victoria’s memory alive. It is heart-warming to know that Eastern is coming together in the wake of this horrific loss.  I will be in touch with Victoria’s family soon to develop appropriate ways to honor her.

In the meantime, I am immediately announcing the creation of the Victoria Leigh Soto Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund at Eastern to support students studying to be teachers who have unmet financial need.  Donations may be directed as follows:

 Victoria Leigh Soto Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund
ECSU Foundation, Inc.
Eastern Connecticut State University
83 Windham Street
Willimantic, CT  06226
ATTN: Kenneth J. DeLisa
Vice President for Institutional Advancement

I will be in contact with her family to  plan an appropriate memorial service for her at Eastern. I will alert the University community as soon as those plans are finalized. In the meantime, thank you for your thoughts and prayers.  The unspeakable act at Sandy Hook has permanently impacted the lives of the victim’s families and the Newtown community. To them, and to the people who knew and loved Victoria, we extend our deepest sympathies, and will continue to seek ways to honor Victoria so that her spirit and memory will never be forgotten. God Bless.


Elsa M. Núñez

 It is believed that Ms. Soto blocked the assailant’s bullets from reaching the children in her care as they ran for cover.  One theory as to the cause is that the perpetrator’s mother, who was also a victim, had been planning on having him committed to a mental institution.  Satanic activity and participation in violent video games on the part of the perpetrator have also been reported. The word “evil” has been used to describe him.

Singer Paul Simon performed at Soto’s funeral.

Gov. Malloy has declared Friday, December 21, to be an official day of mourning for the 26 people killed inside the school and has invited others to join in a moment of silence and pealing of church bells 26 times.

The Post & Email wishes to extend its deepest condolences to the families affected by the events of last Friday in Newtown.


Update, December 21, 2012, 4:52 p.m. EST:  Gatherers at an ECSU memorial event for Ms. Soto sang “Amazing Grace” on the university campus today.

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