Hundreds gathered at Stratford Town Hall Saturday evening to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of one of their own, 27 year-old Victoria Soto, who was fatally shot protecting the lives of her first grade class on Friday.
Family members, friends and former classmates of Soto began gathering for the candlelight vigil long before the scheduled start time of 7 p.m., many in tears as they shared hugs and reminisced about the woman they fondly recalled.
“Victoria truly is a hero and I’m very proud to say that she is my sister,” said Jillian atop the steps of Town Hall. “We definitely lost an amazing person who died doing what she loved, protecting the kids that meant the world to her.”
Fighting back tears, she continued. “And they’ll be able to say that they’re here today because she sacrificed her life so that they could live another day.”
Mayor John Harkins addressed the crowd as well. “You have a teacher who cared more about her students than herself,” said Mayor Harkins. “That speaks volumes to her character, and her commitment and dedication.”
Choir singers from Stratford High performed a program of musical selections.
Victoria is survived by her parents, Donna and Carlos Soto Sr., two sisters, Jillian and Carlee, and brother, Carlos Jr.