A Canadian school principal says a little girl shot dead during a massacre Friday in Newtown, Conn. was smart and charismatic, and shared a special relationship with her older brother Isaiah.
Robert Charach, the principal of the Linden Christian School in Winnipeg got to know Ana Marquez-Greene and her brother when their father, American jazz artist Jimmy Greene, worked at the faculty of music at the University of Manitoba.
The family of four had been back in the U.S. for less than a year – after Mr. Greene took a job at West Connecticut State University – when six-year-old Ana was killed Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Her Puerto Rican grandmother, Elba Marquez, told the Associated Press in San Juan that Ana and her brother went to Sandy Hook Elementary School because of its “solid reputation.”
The news came as a “terrible shock” for the school, Mr. Charach said, adding they waited all day to hear news of the girl, who couldn’t be found in the hours after the shooting.
“We had heard from the family that they were waiting, their daughter unaccounted for,” Mr. Charach told The Globe and Mail. “Deep down I knew that was not a good thing.”
Although Isaiah, who was also in the school, escaped unharmed, Mr. Charach said he can’t imagine how he’s going to cope without his little sister. “It’s a tragedy … it is a time of tremendous loss and grief. Their lives are changed,” he said.
Edmund Dawe, the dean of the Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba, told The Globe and Mail that Mr. Greene had been excited to move back to Connecticut to be closer to his family.
Mr. Greene spent three years teaching at the university, leaving last June, while his wife Nelba Marquez-Green, a licensed marriage and family therapist, worked at the Aurora Family Therapy Centre at the University of Winnipeg.
Mr. Dawe said that Mr. Greene and his wife became active in the Winnipeg community, both through their work as well as their church.
“These are people who are family oriented, community orientated,” Mr. Dawe said. “And they are people who spend their days educating and improving the lives of others ... So when they become victims of something as horrific as this, it’s so difficult to put into words, to describe how we’re feeling here as his colleagues.”
Mr. Dawe described Mr. Greene as a “wonderful teacher” and a “world class jazz musician.” He said he hopes to speak with Mr. Greene in the next day or so.
A vigil was held by the family’s old church in Winnipeg on Friday and relatives flew into Connecticut for the girl’s funeral on Saturday.
A song Mr. Greene is presumed to have written for his young daughter before the massacre, called Ana Grace, is now making its way through social media.