Sleepy New England community left reeling in wake of shooting of unimaginable horror
One witness said they heard “at least a hundred rounds” being fired from the four weapons he wielded including a Glock semi-automatic rifle and Sig Sauer handgun recovered later at the scene.
Amid the carnage that was unfolding, there was shouting in the corridors and children running in all directions.
Hiding in closet
Brenda Lebinski, mother of an eight-year-old girl at the school, said that when the shooting started her daughter’s teacher marshalled all her class into a closet.
“My daughter’s teacher is my hero, she locked all the kids in a closet and that saved their lives,” Ms Lebinski told the Newtown Patch news website.
A nine-year-old boy told local reporters how he had been in the school gym when the horror began. “We heard lots of bangs, and we thought it was the custodian knocking things down,” the boy said. “We heard screaming, then the police came in and said: ‘Is he here?’ The teachers yelled at us, ‘Get into the closet’, and we sat in there for a little while. Then the police knocked on the door and said: ‘We’re evacuating, we’re evacuating, this way, this way.’”
Another girl, aged eight, hid with her teacher in a toilet. The teacher tried to comfort the child by telling her the noise was nothing to worry about, it was just the sound of builders hammering.
Alexis Wasik described the fear that engulfed her in terms that only an eight-year-old could: “It was really frightening. Some people felt they had a stomach ache,” she said.
When Swat teams arrived at the school by 9.45am they immediately entered the building and began an “active shooter search”, checking every door, every crack of the school in the race against the clock to stop the gunman and contain the body count of his actions.
Police began ushering pupils out of the school, long queues of children snaking into the daylight, their brightly coloured jeans and T-shirts looking far too cheery for the circumstances. They were taken to the voluntary fire station adjacent to the school, where soon hundreds of anxious parents began to descend, having been alerted by automatic alarm.
They filed into the fire house, some to experience the ecstatic relief of reunion, others to have their lives forever shattered in a moment by the worst news a parent can be told.
As the world’s media began to congregate in this previously news-less town, reporters could see parents running down the lane that leads away from the school, clutching their children in their arms. One mother screamed out as she ran the words everyone was thinking: “Why? Why? Why?” – (Guardian service)