NEW BLOOMFIELD, Pa. (WHTM) — It’s been 14 years since the mass shooting at Virginia Tech University.
One of the students who died that day has ties to Perry County. He was honored Sunday afternoon for his heroism.
Matthew La Porte was 20 years old when he died saving others. His family is grateful all these years later, his memory is still alive.
La Porte was a 2005 graduate of Carson Long Military Institute in New Bloomfield.
“Carson Long was very instrumental in making him the person that he was. It gave him character. It gave him perseverance. It gave him responsibility and love for his fellow man,” said Barbara La Porte, Matthew’s mother.
While Carson Long has since closed, Talmudic University of New Bloomfield hosted dozens to remember him Sunday.
“One who saves a life is equal to saving a whole universe,” said one Rabbi.
He was in his sophomore year taking a French class when a gunman opened fire on April 16, 2007.
“He wanted to stop the shooter and he wanted to protect people and he was fighting the gunman with his bare hands and unfortunately he did lose his life but he saved other people’s lives,” said Priscilla Bengivenga, Matthew’s sister.
The Perry County Sailors Association gave a plaque to Carson Long in 2007 in La Porte’s memory.
And Sunday it was presented to his family.
“We’re very grateful for all the effort that was put in, for all the people that have come today from different places, those that knew Matt, those that didn’t know him,” Barbara La Porte said.
“14 years later I never imagined it would still be this constant outpouring of love and it’s just amazing,” Bengivenga said.
La Porte wanted to be in the Air Force protecting others. He did just that 14 years ago so his classmates could live.
“They already know they raised a hero. May these thoughts we have shared helped them find solace in knowing that they also raised a king,” the Rabbi said.
“There’s still joy in my heart for knowing what he did and what he tried to do and he did succeed in many ways,” Bengivenga said.
La Porte was also posthumously awarded the Airman’s Medal for his heroism at Virginia Tech.