Routine morning, then shots and unthinkable terror

By John Christoffersen

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Dec. 15 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

"Mary felt like she was doing God's work, working with children," her son-in-law Eric Schwartz told the South Jersey Times. She, too, was killed.

In a classroom, teacher Kaitlin Roig heard the shots and barricaded her 15 students into a tiny bathroom, sitting one of them on top of the toilet. She pulled a bookshelf across the door and locked it. She told the kids to be "absolutely quiet."

"I said, 'There are bad guys out there now. We need to wait for the good guys,'" she told ABC News.

"The kids were being so good," she said. "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.'"

One student claimed to know karate. "It's OK. I'll lead the way out," the student said.

In the school library, clerk Maryann Jacob was working with a group of 18 fourth-graders when she heard the commotion.

"We locked all our doors and then started hearing shooting," she said.

At first, she herded the children into a classroom within the library, but "when we realized the (classroom) door wouldn't lock, we had to crawl across the room into a storage room."

There, they locked the door and barricaded it with filing cabinet. There happened to be materials for coloring, "so we set them up with paper and crayons."

In the gym, crying students huddled in a corner. One of them was 10-year-old Philip Makris.

"He said he heard a lot of loud noises and then screaming," said his mother, Melissa Makris. "Then the gym teachers immediately gathered the children in a corner and kept them safe."

Another girl who was in the gym recalled hearing "like, seven loud booms."

"The gym teacher told us to go in a corner, so we all huddled and I kept hearing these booming noises," the girl, who was not identified by name, told NBC News. "We all started — well, we didn't scream. We started crying, so all the gym teachers told us to go into the office where no one could find us."

An 8-year-old boy described how a teacher saved him.

"I saw some of the bullets going past the hall that I was right next to, and then a teacher pulled me into her classroom," said the boy, who was not identified by CBSNews.com.

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 utter a word.

"The shooting appears to have stopped," the dispatcher radioed at 9:38 a.m., according to the Post. "There is silence at this time. The school is in lockdown."

And at 9:46 a.m., an anguished voice from the school: "I've got bodies here. Need ambulances."

A half mile away, nurse Maureen Kerins was loading a broken chair into her car at about 9:45 when her cell phone rang. A friend wanted to know if her children were safe. There had been shooting at the elementary. Kerins' five kids are older, but she jumped in her car and raced to Sandy Hook. When she told police she was a nurse, they let her through.

As she approached the school, teachers were leading their children out single file, each had their hand on another's shoulder.

"It was very orderly. They weren't even running, they were just walking, following their teacher," she said. "Nobody was screaming. Parents were racing around looking for their kids, but the kids were just in line, following their teacher. Some were crying, but mostly they were calm."

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