The Sandy Hook Elementary School Teachers Are Heroes [Updated]
3:00 pm, December 14th | by Sarah Devlin
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut this morning, which is being called “the worst school shooting in recent U.S. history,” is horrific, disturbing and upsetting in equal measure. Students who were in the school when the violence occurred were later interviewed by reporters and recounted the actions of many of their teachers once they learned that a shooter was in the building.
“I was in the gym and I heard a loud, like seven loud booms, and the gym teachers told us to go in the corner, so we all huddled,” one student at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown told NBC Connecticut. “And I kept hearing these booming noises. And we all … started crying.
“All the gym teachers told us to go into the office where no one could find us,” she added. “So then a police officer came in and told us to run outside. So we did and we came in the firehouse and waited for our parents.”
From the Courant:
Parent Richard Wilford said his Sandy Hook second-grader, Richie, heard what he described as “pans falling” when gunshots rang out. He said that his son told him that the teacher went to go check, came back in and locked the door and told the students to stand in the corner.
There are also reports that a person in the principal’s office, where the original confrontation with the shooter occurred, switched the PA system on in order to warn teachers and students of the danger.
Additionally, there are reports that the shooter’s mother was a kindergarten teacher at Sandy Hook elementary. There is still so much to learn about the shooter, his motives and the true damage wrought by his actions, but the teachers who protected the students in the school are heroes, no question.
UPDATE: The New York Post is now reporting that the shooter was not Ryan Lanza, but his brother Adam Lanza.
UPDATE II: The Daily Mail reports that Maryrose Kristopik, a music teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, saved 15 children during the shooting at Sandy Hook by barricading them into a closet.
UPDATE III: The Huffington Post, citing a CBS report, quotes a parent thanking another female teacher for saving her child:
“I’m just so grateful to the teacher who saved him, she definitely [saved his life,” the mother told WCBS-TV’s Lou Young of the unidentified Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher. “He had bullets going by him and another child, and pulled them into a classroom.”
UPDATE IV: Law enforcement confirmed in a press briefing that 18 children died at the scene, 2 children were pronounced dead at the hospital, and 6 adults were pronounced dead at the scene. They confirmed that 1 person was injured and survived. Lieutenant Paul Vance said that first responders received crisis counseling due to the gruesome nature of the crime scene.
UPDATE V: Laura Feinstein is another teacher who was inside the building when the shooting occurred:
“I was not an eyewitness to the shooting. I did not see the shooter or any potential victims. I was in the back of the building, in my classroom. Getting ready to greet my students.
They were on their way down and I heard an unusual noise, which was kind of metallic sounding – ‘pop, pop, pop.’ It sounded like gunshots.
And I hurried my two kids into the classroom, I locked the door and called the office. And the office secretary picked up the phone and I said, ‘Is everything OK?’ And she said, ‘There’s someone in the building shooting.’ And then I hung up.
I took my two kids, we were hiding under the computer desk and behind the shelves. I tried calling 911, but my cellphone didn’t have reception so I texted my husband and asked him to call for me and we were just waiting.”
UPDATE VI: Janet Vollmer, a kindergarten teacher at Sandy Hook, described her actions when she realized there was a shooter on school grounds:
“You could hear what sounded like pops, gunshots. Of course, I’m not going to tell that to 5-year-olds, so I said to them, ‘We’re going over in a safe area,’” Vollmer told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “And we read a story and we kept them calm, did a lockdown drill, closed the doors, locked (them), covered the windows, and kept the children with us.”
She said the children knew something unusual was going on.
“It didn’t seem a natural thing (to the children), although we do practice drills,” Vollmer said. “We said, ‘We’re not really sure, but we’re going to be safe, because we’re sitting over here and we’re all together.’”
When asked how she kept cool, she said: “With 5-year-olds, you can’t lose it. I’ve been doing this for a long time, it’s my 18th year of teaching. My job was to keep them safe.”
Additionally, another unnamed teacher protected her classroom and grabbed students from the hallway, removing them from the path of the shooter:
Correia said she has heard that her daughter’s teacher, when the gunfire started, grabbed two kids from the hallway, put them into her classroom with other students, locked the door and gathered the students to a side of the room away from the gunfire. “She did a very heroic thing,” Correia said of the teacher.
“The kids are going to suffer from this,” Correia said. “… We lost a lot of babies today in this town, and there are a lot of very sad families.”