AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT / Getty Images
By Michael Winter, USA TODAY
Stories of heroism by adults and children are emerging from Sandy Hook Elementary School. Here are a few:
School therapist Diane Day
described how principal Dawn Hochsprung and a school psychologist,
identified as Mary Scherlach, leaped from their seats and ran out of a
meeting when they heard gunshots.
"They didn't think twice about confronting or seeing what was going on," she told The Wall Street Journal.
Hochsprung and Sherlach were shot dead in the hallway, according to news reports.
Hook's lead teacher pressed her body against her classroom door, which
did not have a lock, Day said. The gunman shot through the door,
wounding the unidentified teacher in an arm and a leg.
"She was our hero," Day said
Parent Robert Licata told WABC-TV the gunman burst into the classroom of his 6-year-old son and shot the teacher without saying a word.
when my son grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door," he
said. "He was very brave. He waited for his friends."
First-grade teacher Kaitlin Riog
said she was in a morning meeting when she heard what sounded like
automatic gunfire. She then locked her classroom door and herded her
students into the bathroom, where she locked them in and blocked the
door with a tall storage unit.
"I felt that, in the time, I tried
to be very strong for my children," she told WABC. "I said anyone who
believed in the power in the prayer, we need to pray. And those who
don't believe in prayer, think happy thoughts... I told the kids I love
them and I was so happy they were my students... I didn't think we were
going to live."
police knocked later, she said, she told officers to slide their badges
under the door, then told them to get a key to prove they were police.
Officers then unlocked the door and took the children to a nearby fire
"'I just want Christmas,'" she says her students told
her. "'I don't want to die, I just want to have Christmas.' I said,
you're going to have Christmas and Hanukkah. I tried to be positive."
Teacher Laura Feinstein told WTOP-FM that she hid with students under desks and shelves after hearing gunshots.
hurried two children into her classroom in the back of the school,
locked the door and called the office. She hid with four students under
the computer desk and shelves and tried calling 911 but had no cell
reception. She then texted her husband.
"We just kept hearing
shots and shots and shots. There were a lot of them, and I was just
praying that someone would come and save us and we kept waiting and
eventually they did," said Feinstein, a reading specialist.
students sensed it wasn't a lockdown drill, she said. They passed time
playing games "to distract ourselves from what was going on."
said the intercom was left on, and among the bits of conversation she
heard she eventually heard a clear voice say, "You're safe, we're here,
it's OK." She then knew that help was on the way.
the 40 minutes that passed before someone escorted her and the students
out of the building "felt like an eternity."
Contributing: Oren Dorell