Norfolk/USA: Son of former Norfolk couple killed in USA school massacre

THE son of a couple who met and married in Norfolk was among the 20 children killed in the Connecticut school massacre, it emerged today.

Six-year-old Dylan Hockley was shot when gunman Adam Lanza rampaged through the school in Newtown on Friday.

His parents, Ian and Nicole, were both graduates of the University of East Anglia and lived and worked in the county after they met.

The family moved to America in January 2011 from their home in Eastleigh, Hampshire.

Mr Hockley studied accountancy at the UEA graduating with a BA, while his wife American Nicole completed an exchange year at the university in 1991.

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They married in Norwich in 1993 and both went on to work for Norwich Union.

US president Barack Obama is due to attend a memorial service for the victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre today, as it was reported that one of the 20 child victims was a British schoolboy.

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Dylan Hockley, six, one of eight boys and 12 girls in First Grade gunned down in cold blood by Adam Lanza, is believed to have been born in Britain and only moved to Newtown, Connecticut with English father Ian, American mother Nicole and his elder brother Jake in January 2011.

In a feature for the local paper the Newtown Bee, believed to have been published earlier this year, Mrs Hockley said they lived in England 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 told the paper.

She added: “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.’’

In one of America’s worst school shootings, Lanza killed 20 children, all first graders aged six or seven, who were shot up to 11 times each.

He also killed six women, including school head Dawn Hochsprung, before turning the gun on himself. His mother Nancy was also found shot dead at their home in the town.

Mr Obama’s visit to Newtown for an interfaith vigil today will be the fourth time he has travelled to a city after a mass shooting.

The bloodbath brought despair and horror to the New England community, 60 miles north east of New York City, preparing for the Christmas holidays.

Friends and family members today described Newtown High School student Lanza variously as intelligent, nerdy, a goth and remote.

Robbie Parker, whose six-year-old daughter Emilie Parker died at the school, fought back tears as he said: “My daughter Emilie would have been one of the first ones to be standing and giving her love and support to all those victims, because that’s the type of person she is.

“As the deep pain begins to settle into our hearts, we find comfort reflecting on the incredible person Emilie was and how many lives she was able to touch in her short time here on earth.

“Emilie’s laughter was infectious and all those who had the pleasure to meet her would agree that this world is a better place because she has been in it.’’

He said his thoughts and prayers go out to relatives of the other victims, including the family of Lanza.

Peter Lanza, the gunman’s father, issued a statement yesterday saying the family’s hearts went out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those who were injured.

“Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy,’’ he said.

“No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can. We too are asking why.

“We have co-operated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so. Like so many of you, we are saddened, but struggling to make sense of what has transpired.’’

Connecticut’s chief medical examiner H Wayne Carver II told a press conference all the children killed were shot more than once, with the ones he examined personally shot between three and 11 times.

“Everybody’s death was caused by gunshot wounds,’’ he said.

“I have been at this more than a third of a century ... this probably is the worst I have seen, or the worst I know any of my colleagues have seen.’’

Tales emerged of heroism by teachers and other staff to protect the children.

Young teacher Victoria Soto was shot dead when she put herself between the gunman and her pupils, whom she was trying to hide in a closet, reports said.

Though details of the 27-year-old teacher’s death remain unclear, her cousin, Jim Wiltsie, told ABC News that investigators told his family she was killed while shielding her students from danger.

He said: “She was trying to shield, get her children into a closet and protect them from harm. And by doing that, put herself between the gunman and the children. She lost her life doing what she loved.’’

Ms Hochsprung reportedly lunged at Lanza before being shot.

Board of Education chairwoman Debbie Liedlien said administrators were coming out of a meeting when the gunman forced his way into the school, and they ran toward him.

Jeff Capeci, chairman of the town’s legislative council, was asked whether Ms Hochsprung was a hero. He replied: “From what we know, it’s hard to classify her as anything else.’’

Maryann Jacob, who worked in the library, told how she led 18 children to safety by crawling with them to a storage room and waiting for police to arrive.

She said they barricaded the door with filing cabinets, only opening it when a police officer slid an identification badge underneath.

MaryAnne Jacobs, assistant librarian at the school, told how she hid with 18 first grade children in a storage cupboard to avoid the gunman.

She said she followed the usual drill for emergency procedures, telling the children to be quiet and sit down before taking them initially to a place they thought safe and then to the room normally used to house servers for the library computers.

“We just told them it was a drill, they knew what to do,’’ she said, fighting back tears.

“We knew it was gunshots first all because we made the phone call. I think they were like ‘what is that? What is going on’ but I don’t think they really had any idea.

She added: “They weren’t crying.

“We had to crawl out of the space we were in because we discovered one of our doors was unlocked and we locked ourselves in a back storage room where we have some (computer) servers inside the library.

“At that point they were a little freaked out I think, there were some crayons and paper so we tore up paper and gave them all something to do. It was hard to just keep them quiet and calm.’’

She said they barricaded the door with filing cabinets, only opening it when a police officer slid an identification badge underneath.

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