Miss Soto, who had taught at the school for five years was described by one of her deeply distraught 10-year-old boy pupils as ‘really nice and funny’, was trying to shield her students and usher them into a closet when she came face-to-face with the gunman.

Miss Soto’s cousin, Jim Wiltsie, said: “She put herself between the gunman and the children and that’s when she was tragically shot and killed,’ Mr Wiltsie said.

“I’m just proud that Vicki had the instincts to protect her kids from harm. It brings peace to know that Vicki was doing what she loved, protecting the children and in our eyes she’s a hero,’ he added.