Teachers hailed as hero for protecting children from gunman
Published Friday, December 14, 2012 6:53PM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 14, 2012 10:29PM EST
Amid the tragedy of Friday’s mass shooting in a Connecticut school that left dozens dead, including 20 young children, stories are emerging of teachers who risked their lives to save students.
Kaitlin Roig led 15 students into a bathroom as gunfire echoed through Sandy Hook Elementary School in the town of Newtown.
“I put one of my students on top of the toilet. I just knew we had to get in there, because I was just so afraid if he did come in, he would hear us and start shooting the door,” she told ABC News.
“I said we have to be absolutely quiet, and I said there are bad guys out there now and we have to wait for the good guys. I just wanted us to be OK.”
Roig added that she told the students she loved them and “wanted that to be one of the last things they heard, not the gunfire in the hallway.”
Another teacher is also being hailed as a hero for locking 15 students in a closet while the gunman of Friday’s mass shooting in Connecticut banged on the door, according to media reports.
Twenty children and six adults died after the gunman burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and opened fire. Police said the shooter also turned the gun on himself, bringing the death toll to 27.
According to The Daily Mail, during the rampage Maryrose Kristopik, a music teacher at the school, barricaded 15 children in a closet while the gunman shouted, “Let me in! Let me in!”
A mother whose nine-year-old son was one of the children hiding in the closet is quoted as saying, “I want to thank her. She saved their lives.”
Another mother, Brenda Lebinski, said, “My daughter's teacher is my hero. She locked all the kids in a closet and that saved their lives.”
A witness told reporters at the scene that his sister, apparently a student at the school, was hidden in the closet in the art room when the shooting began. It was not clear whether she was one of the students hidden by Kristopik.
It was also not clear whether Kristopik was among the survivors.
A photograph tweeted out earlier this week by the school’s principal Dawn Hochsprung shows Kristopik conducting a Grade 4 choir for a winter concert.
“Sandy Hook students enjoy the rehearsal for our 4th grade winter concert - a talented group led by Maryrose Kristopik,” Hochsprung wrote.
Hochsprung is believed to be one of the victims in Friday’s shooting.
About 626 students from Kindergarten through Grade 4 attend Sandy Hook public school, which is located in one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S.
Authorities have not officially identified the suspect, but law enforcement officials told The Associated Press he is 20-year-old Adam Lanza. His mother, Nancy Lanza, at teacher at the school, is presumed dead.