Maryrose Kristopik, a music teacher Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, managed to save 15 children during Friday’s shooting massacre by barricading them into a closet, while gunman Adam Lanza stood outside screaming “Let me in! Let me in!”.
Maryrose Kristopik has been hailed a “hero” by parents after herding the children to safety in a closet and barricading the door to prevent Adam Lanza, 20, from entering.
An unnamed mother, in her 40s, whose 9-year-old son was among the children said: “I want to thank her. She saved their lives.
“The shooter kept banging on the door screaming: <<Let me in! Let me in!>> but he didn’t get in.
“Now I have to explain to my nine-year-old son that his friends won’t be coming back. How am I supposed to do that?”
Brenda Lebinski said her 8-year-old daughter is safe thanks to the teacher’s decision to move all kids into a closet when a gunman had entered the building.
“My daughter’s teacher is my hero,” Brenda Lebinski said.
“She locked all the kids in a closet and that saved their lives.”
Alberta Bajraliu, 41, got a call from a friend who heard a gunshot at the school and told her to check it out.
Alberta Bajraliu’s 9-year-old daughter Venesa was at the school but her two other children are not.
She said: “I was one of the first there and they were bringing children out, carrying them out. One girl came out and her face was covered in blood and she had bits of meat from other people in her hair. It was terrible.
“Another girl just looked shocked. They brought one girl out and I thought it was my daughter. They asked me: <<Does she have black trousers?>> and I said no as Venesa had jeans.
“When I saw her I just felt so relieved. She has not spoken much about what happened. She said she was in an art class and the teacher closed the door and they were waiting until they could get out.”
Alberta Bajraliu also paid tribute to the school’s principal Dawn Hochsprung who is believed to have been killed. She said: “She would have done anything for her children.”
Josh Milas, 21, a former pupil at the school, also paid tribute to her and said: “She loved those kids. She was a great person.”
Another hero teacher was Kaitlin Roig, who barricaded her first grade students in classroom bathroom and locked the door when she first heard gunshots.
“The kids were being so good. They asked <<Can we go see if anyone is out there?>> <<…I just want Christmas…>> <<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>>.”
Adam Lanza opened fire inside the Connecticut elementary school where his mother worked Friday, killing 26 people, including 18 children, and forcing students to cower in classrooms and then flee with the help of teachers and police.
The massacre is the nation’s second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, which left 32 people and the gunman dead.
Parents flooded to Sandy Hook Elementary School, about 60 miles northeast of New York City, looking for their children in the wake of the shooting. Students were told to close their eyes by police as they were led from the building.
A photo taken by The Newtown Bee newspaper showed a group of young students – some crying, others looking visibly frightened – being escorted by adults through a parking lot in a line, hands on each other’s shoulders.
Students and staff were among the victims, state police Lt. Paul Vance said a brief news conference. He also said the gunman was dead inside the school, but he refused to say how many people were killed.
A law enforcement official briefed on the shooting said the gunman died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and that one of the victims was the man’s mother, a teacher. The official wasn’t authorized to speak about the investigation.
The attacker was a 20-year-old man armed with a .223-caliber rifle.
Robert Licata said his 6-year-old son was in class when the gunman burst in and shot the teacher.
“That’s 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.”
He said the shooter didn’t say a word.
Stephen Delgiadice said his eight-year-old daughter heard two big bangs and teachers told her to get in a corner. His daughter was fine.
“It’s alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America,” he said.
Danbury Hospital was the only hospital to take in victims from the shootings, admitting three patients. Doctors said at a news conference they cleared four trauma rooms to treat shooting victims.
Mergim Bajraliu, 17, heard the gunshots echo from his home and raced to check on his 9-year-old sister at the school. He said his sister, who was fine, heard a scream come over the intercom at one point. He said teachers were shaking and crying as they came out of the building.
“Everyone was just traumatized,” he said.
Richard Wilford’s 7-year-old son, Richie, is in the second grade at the school. His son told him that he heard a noise that “sounded like what he described as cans falling”.
The boy told him a teacher went out to check on the noise, came back in, locked the door and had the kids huddle up in the corner until police arrived.
“There’s no words,” Richard Wilford said.
“It’s sheer terror, a sense of imminent danger, to get to your child and be there to protect him.”
Melissa Makris, 43, said her 10-year-old son, Philip, was in the school gym.
“He said he heard a lot of loud noises and then screaming. Then the gym teachers immediately gathered the children in a corner and kept them safe in a corner,” Melissa Makris said.
The fourth-grader told his mother that the students stayed huddled until police came in the gym. He also told her that he saw what looked like a body under a blanket as he fled the school.
“He said the policeman came in and helped them get out of the building and told them to run,” Melissa Makris said.
“And they ran to the firehouse.”