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More from News
- Scarlett Lewis, 44, had planned to make a gingerbread house with her son at school that Friday afternoon
- After a desperate search, she said 'I just kind of knew. All the other kids were gone; we're just sitting there'
- Jesse's father Neil Heslin said how he now dreads Christmas
PUBLISHED: 13:13 EST, 19 December 2012 | UPDATED: 00:25 EST, 20 December 2012
The last time that Scarlett Lewis saw her son Jesse, he was writing the words 'I love you' on her frosty car door before he went off to school.
The mother-of two captured the six-year-old grinning next to his handiwork, a picture that she now holds close to her.
Jesse was one of 20 children killed when a gunman stormed Sandy Hook elementary school last Friday.
A portion of an interview with Jesse's father Neil Heslin aired on Wednesday night, where the visibly shaken dad talked about how his young son was so excited about Christmas.
'I don’t have much family so it’s kind of a quiet time for me he made Christmas happy for me and joyful and I said to him “Jess, we'll make it as best we can” and the next day the tragedy happened, it occurred and I thought “Boy was he wrong about that,”’ Mr Heslin said on CNN.
Heartbreaking loss: Jesse Lewis, six, was one of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre where 20 children and six adults died
Mother's love: Scarlett Lewis, 44, described her beloved son Jesse as a blessing and a gift
Jesse's mother holds on to her final- and favorite- memories of her son include the times they spent cuddling up together to read a book before they drifted off to sleep in the same bed.
She told People: 'With Jesse, I have absolutely no regrets. I loved him to pieces, he knew it, and I knew he loved me to pieces. That is a blessing. Jesse was a gift.'
Ms Lewis, who did not live with Mr Heslin, had planned to leave work early on Friday so that she could go to school to make gingerbread houses with her youngest son, who was excitedly awaiting the Christmas tradition.
The mother first heard news of the shooting at around 9.30am on Friday when a friend texted her but was not initially worried.
However she decided to follow Jesse's father to the school. When she arrived, the roads were packed with traffic as desperate parents tried to find their children.
Ms Lewis told the magazine of her rising panic when she could not find Jesse anywhere. Amid the confusion, the mother ran to a house next to the school where she had been told some children who escaped had been taken in. Jesse was not among them.
Brave boy: Neil Heslin (left) was told by state troopers that Jesse ran into danger and had been trying to help other children
Far from joyful: Neil Heslin said that his son Jesse Lewis was really excited to Christmas, saying it was going to be the 'best one ever', but now that Jesse is dead Heslin says that is far from the truth
Ms Lewis and Mr Heslin returned to the firehouse for the agonizing wait to find out what had happened to their son. She told People: 'I just kind of knew. All the other kids were gone; we're just sitting there.'
Jesse's extended family began to gather - uncles, aunts and grandparents. Ms Lewis's other son, 12-year-old JT, arrived after being collected from school. The boy sobbed as he waited for news of his younger brother while Ms Lewis said she somehow found the strength to reassure her son.
The family waited for hours as daylight faded, hugging each other for support and holding on to hope while they waited for news. Ms Lewis gave authorities a description of Jesse - his cropped, brown hair, jeans, stripy shirt and sneakers.
A doctor finally broke the news to the family that there had been no survivors among the missing children.
Victims: Top row- (L-R) Ana Marquez-Greene, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Emilie Parker, Noah Pozner. Second row: (L-R) Jesse Lewis, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Charlotte Bacon, Chase Kowalski. Third row: (L-R) Daniel Barden, Jack Pinto, Catherine Hubbard, Dylan Hockley, Benjamin Wheeler. Fourth row: (L-R) Grace McDonnell, James Mattioli, Avielle Richman, Rachel Davino, Anne Marie Murphy. Fifth row: (L-R) Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Dawn Hochsprung, Nancy Lanza
Jesse Lewis was one of the first-graders who had been hidden in a closet by teacher Victoria Soto when the first gunshots rang out at the elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
When the gunman entered the classroom looking for the children, he came face-to-face with 27-year-old Miss Soto who tried to throw him off by saying the children were in the auditorium at the other end of the building.
However six of the children then tried to run from their hiding place and were shot dead by the gunman. Miss Soto and a teacher's aide were also killed.
Mr Heslin was told by state troopers that from the way his son Jesse had been found, it was clear the six-year-old had run into the face of danger to help other children get away.
The father told the New York Post: 'I wish my kid stayed put. But that’s Jesse. I can see him making that choice and just doing something. My boy died the way I would have died if I was in that position.
'Jesse grew up on a farm. He’s tough. That would be my little guy to try to get out of there.'
Distraught: Gene Rosen, a retired psychologist and grandfather, told how a distraught mother had come to his door looking for her son but he was not there
Twenty-eight people died in the shooting rampage, including 20 children all aged six and seven, six adults at the school, the gunman who took his own life and his mother Nancy Lanza, who was shot before the massacre.
A retired psychologist who lives next door to the school described earlier this week how he was leaving his home when he discovered six children sitting in a neat semicircle at the end of his driveway.
Gene Rosen, 69, took the four girls and two boys into his home, and over the next few hours gave them toys, listened to their stories and called their frantic parents.
A couple of hours after the last child left, a knock came on his door. It was a frantic mother who had heard that some children had taken refuge there. She was looking for her little boy.
'Her face looked frozen in terror,' Mr Rosen recalled, breaking down in tears.
'She thought maybe a miracle from God would have the child at my house,' he said. Later, 'I looked at the casualty list ... and his name was on it.'
Forever remembered: Crosses bear the names of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting at a memorial in Newtown, Connecticut