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Sunnyside has Ties to Shooting Victims, Vigil Planned

Photo: iStock

Dec. 17, 2012 By Christian Murray

Sunnyside residents are learning that two of the victims shot in Friday’s tragic mass-shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school have deep ties to this neighborhood.

Benjamin Wheeler, 6, a first grader, who spent his early years in Sunnyside, was among the victims. His parents had lived here for many years.

Many residents’ children had known Ben’s older brother, Nate.

Ben’s mother, Francine Wheeler, was very active in the community–deemed one of the founders of the popular [email protected] group, as well as an active member of Sunnyside Gardens Park.

Francine is also known for her successful children’s singing career–while her husband, David, is known for his writing.

“Everyone is just devastated on a personal level, whether you knew them or not,” said Jimmy Van Bramer.

Van Bramer said one of the local moms had gone up to Connecticut to spend time with Francine, and that “Francine was aware of the messages of love from Sunnyside.”

Roger Hitts, a family friend, has organized a candlelight vigil with Van Bramer’s office for Tuesday night. The community will meet at Sunnyside Reformed Church at 6pm (corner of 48th and Skillman Ave) and then proceed to Sunnyside Gardens Park. The park is “where Ben’s parents Francine and David were such loved, valued members for several years.”

Meanwhile, the step sister of the principal of the school, Dawn Hochsprung (who threw herself in front of the gunman) also lives in Sunnyside. The vigil will pay respect to her family too–as well as all the victims of the shooting.

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I keep reading of people who move to bucolic Connecticut and encounter nightmares there. I remember that Martha Moxley was murdered by a Kennedy relative in Greenwich and then there is that lovely family that was destroyed in Stamford on Christmas a year ago during a fire.


That chaaaange bum is gonna hurt someone soon enough, you are all ignoring it, still giving him money. If I see you giving him money I will yell at you in the street, let it be warned. He is not welcomed in our community.


This will keep on happening. There are more mommy loving-hating psychopathic killers waiting in the wings. Sunnyside is full of them. What needs to happen is these people need to be locked away. Our kids are not safe.


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