UB Employee Related to Connecticut Shooting Victim

December 18, 2012 Updated Dec 18, 2012 at 8:46 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

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December 18, 2012 Updated Dec 18, 2012 at 8:46 PM EDT


Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) Melanie Buhrmaster-Bunch is a long-time Western New York resident who is also UB's Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations.

This week, she is in Waterbury, Connecticut mourning the death of her cousin, Dawn Lafferty-Hochsprung.

"Her spirit was amazing. She was so vibrant and full of life. Anytime she walked into a room, she was always smiling . . . she never had a sad face, she never wore a frown. I think what people really need to know about Dawn is that she was not only a hero in her death, but she was a hero in life as well."

Melanie Buhrmaster-Bunch tells Eyewitness News that her cousin Dawn was devoted to education and the school children she taught - often referring to them as "her kids."

Dawn Lafferty-Hochsprung was one of the six adults who were killed by 20-year Adam Lanza when he went on a shooting rampage inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday.

It is being reported that the principal was one of the first people to confront Lanza.

Her family says the Dawn Lafferty-Hochsprung lunged at the gunman hoping to stop him, but she was shot and killed in the process.

Dawn Lafferty-Hochsprung was 47 years old, the mother of two grown girls, and the grandmother of four.

Tuesday night, a vigil was being held at her high school in Naugatuck, Conn., with a private funeral to follow on Thursday.