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Thursday, Oct 6, 2022

Vermonter Is Killed in Las Vegas Massacre

Sandy Casey, a special education teacher who grew up in Dorset, Vermont, was among the at least 59 people killed in a mass shooting on Sunday night in Las Vegas. She was 35.

Casey was engaged to be married to her fiancé, Christopher Willemse, with whom she attended the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on Vegas’ main strip, where the shooting took place. Casey’s family learned early Monday morning that she died on the scene of the shooting.

The daughter of Teresa and Steven Casey of Dorset, Casey graduated from Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester in 2000 and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education from the College of St. Joseph in Rutland. She has taught special education for nine years at Manhattan Beach Middle School in Manhattan Beach, California.

Her fiancé, an instructional assistant for the school district, wrote on Facebook the day after the shooting: “As I sit and mourn such a beautiful life gone too fast, all I can say is look up and watch the birds fly high and free today, as that’s where I feel you smiling down upon all of us. I love you baby girl! Love you to pieces!”

Casey was a “fun-loving free spirit” who was always smiling, according to Dorset town clerk Sandra Pinsonault. “The community is definitely feeling the loss today,” Pinsonault said in an interview with the Burlington Free Press.

Mike Matthews, the Manhattan Beach superintendent, said Casey was an energetic teacher who delighted in her students.

“She was a person who brings light wherever she is,” Matthews said. “She has a classroom full of light and hope and caring. She is loved by students and colleagues alike and will be forever remembered for her sense of humor, her passion for her work, her devotion to her students, and her commitment to continuing on her own learning and to taking on whatever new projects came her way,” the superintendent wrote.

“She has made a tremendous difference in the lives of her students, and their families,” he said.

Burr and Burton Academy held a moment of silence for Casey on Monday morning during a weekly assembly in the school’s gymnasium.

Both Vermont senators expressed grief over Casey’s death in statements posted on Twitter.

“Jane and I are deeply saddened to hear that Vermonter Sandy Casey was among the victims in Vegas,” Bernie Sanders said. “Our hearts are with her friends & family.” Patrick Leahy wrote that “Our prayers are with her and her family.”

Casey “was a beautiful girl and a beautiful person,” said her mother, Teresa, in an interview with VTDigger. The family then released a statement asking for privacy.

“Her parents ask for prayers and privacy for her sisters, coworkers, students and large extended family,” the statement read.