As with most tragedies, there are always heroes. The shooting that took place yesterday is no different. In the midst of horror, death and destruction, there emerges people who think of others rather than their own safety. Those stories are emerging and many are incredible tales of bravery.
Take for instance 27-year-old teacher Victoria Soto. She had been teaching at the school for only five years. When the alleged gunman Adam Lanza began shooting, Soto took her kids and hid them in the closet. Upon entering the room, Lanza demanded to know where the children were and Soto told him they were in the gym. He then murdered her on the spot. Not one of the children she died protecting was harmed.
Ms. Soto’s cousin, Jim Wiltsie, said: “She put herself between the gunman and the children and that’s when she was tragically shot and killed.
“I’m just proud that Vicki had the instincts to protect her kids from harm. It brings peace to know that Vicki was doing what she loved, protecting the children and in our eyes she’s a hero,” he added.
Forty-seven-year-old Dawn Hachsprung, the school principal, along with 56-year-old Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist reportedly ran towards the gunfire in an attempt to stop the gunman. According to Diane Day, a school therapist,
“We were there for about five minutes chatting, and we heard Pop! Pop!, Pop!” Day said.
“I went under the table.”
But Hochsprung and the psychologist leaped out of their seats and ran out of the room, Day recalled. “They didn’t think twice about confronting or seeing what was going on,” she said.
Both women were murdered execution style when they confronted Adam Lanza.
While each of these women should be considered heroes, one should not forget that heroes don’t always die.
First grade teacher Kaitlin Roig protected fifteen children entrusted to her. Upon hearing the shots, Roig rushed the children to the class bathroom. She then barricaded the door with a bookshelf.
“It was horrific,” she said. “I didn’t think we were going to live.”
“We all got in there. I locked us in,” she said. “I don’t know if [the gunman] came in the room… I just told them we have to be absolutely quiet.”
“If they started crying, I would take their face and tell them, ‘It’s going to be OK,'” Roig continued. “I wanted that to be the last thing they heard, not the gunfire in the hall.”
“I thought we were all going to die,” she said through tears. “I told the kids I love them and I was so happy they were my students… I said anyone who believed in the power of the prayer, we need to pray and those who don’t believe in prayer” think happy thoughts.
Finally when the gunfire stopped, which Roig said did not last very long, she refused to take the kids from the bathroom. When police began to knock on the door she refused to open the door, not knowing for sure who they were. “I didn’t believe them,” she said. “I told them if they were cops, they could get the key… They did and then unlocked the bathroom.”
In the midst of the loss, I’m sure there are many parents who are and should be very grateful to these women for protecting their sons and daughters.
Watch the interview with Ms. Roig below:
UPDATE: The following is a list of all those who were killed in the Sandy Hook Shooting. Among them are eight boys and 12 girls, along with 6 female adults.
Charlotte Bacon, 02-22-06
Daniel Barden, 09-25-05
Rachel Davino, 07-17-83
Olivia Engel, 07-18-06
Josephine Gay, 12-11-05
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04-04-06
Dylan Hockley, 03-08-06
Dawn Hochsprung, 06-28-65
Madeleine F. Hsu, 07-10-06
Catherine V. Hubbard, 06-08-06
Chase Kowalski, 10-31-05
Jesse Lewis, 06-30-06
James Mattioli, 03-22-06
Grace McDonnell, 11-04-05
Anne Marie Murphy, 07-25-60
Emilie Parker, 05-12-06
Jack Pinto, 05-06-06
Noah Pozner, 11-20-06
Caroline Previdi, 09-07-06
Jessica Rekos, 05-10-06
Avielle Richman, 10-17-06
Lauren Russeau, 06-?-82
Mary Sherlach, 02-11-56
Victoria Soto, 11-04-85
Benjamin Wheeler, 09-12-06
Allison Wyatt, 07-03-06