AN APPALLED and grieving nation yesterday learned more about those who died at Sandy Hook School as parents and neighbours remembered the vivacious, innocent children massacred by Adam Lanza.
Tributes were paid from this side of the Atlantic after it emerged that one of the young victims, Dylan Hockley, was born in Britain.
The six-year-old moved to Connecticut from Hampshire only last year with his English father, Ian, American mother Nicole and elder brother Jake.
In a feature for the local paper the Newtown Bee, believed to have been published this year, Mrs Hockley said they lived in Britain for 18 years, where her husband worked for IBM, before moving to the Connecticut town, where they were “happy and comfortable”.
“Newtown is a wonderful place to live and we’re looking forward to being here a long, long time,” she explained. “Being with my children is much more rewarding than I thought it would be, coming from a big career background. Spending time with my children gives me a lot of joy.”
Maria Sweet, 81, a retired nanny who lived next to the family in Hampshire, said: “When I woke up this morning and saw the news on the television, my heart was just broken.
“I recognised Dylan’s face straight away because of that lovely smile of his. I love that little boy so much. He was very, very good. He used to come to see me and call me all the time.”
Mike Wimbridge, another neighbour, added: “You just can’t believe it, a young family move back to America … for a better life for the children, then to be taken like this, I’m lost for words.”
Robbie Parker, who lost his six-year-old daughter, Emilie, said: “It is a horrific tragedy and I want everyone to know that our hearts and prayers go out to them.
“This includes the family of the shooter. I cannot imagine how hard this experience is for you. Our love and support goes out to you as well.”
Six-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene, the daughter of jazz saxophonist Jimmy Greene, moved to Connecticut just two months ago from Canada, her grandmother said.
“What happened does not match up with the place where they live,” said Elba Marquez.
Another victim, Noah Pozner, six, was described as “smart as a whip”, gentle, but with a rambunctious streak by his uncle, Alexis Haller. His twin sister, Arielle, was in a different classroom and survived the shooting.
Charlotte Bacon, six, begged her mother to let her wear a new pink dress and boots to school on Friday.
Chase Kowalski, seven, was remembered as a bright, active child who was always outside, riding his bicycle.
Jesse Lewis, six, feasted on hot chocolate with his favourite breakfast sandwich – sausage, egg and cheese – at a delicatessen before going to school on Friday.
Melissa Paynter, the regular babysitter for seven-year-old Grace McDonnell, remembered the “beautiful, sweet girl” who was “taken from us way too early”.
The other children who died have been named as Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, James Mattioli, Jack Pinto, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler and Allison Wyatt. They were all six years old, except Daniel and Josephine, who were seven.
The adults who died were principal Dawn Hochsprung, 47, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, teachers Anne Marie Murphy, 52, Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, 30, Victoria Soto, 27, Rachel Davino, 29 and the gunman’s mother, Nancy Lanza, 52.