‘Who Would Do This to Our Poor Little Babies?’ Let's ask "Wise Man" Avi Shafran & His "Brilliant" Bosses!
‘Who Would Do This to Our Poor Little Babies’
NEWTOWN, Conn. — Gradually, the group of frantic parents shrank and was gently ushered to wait in a back room in the old brick firehouse around the corner from Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The sounds of cartoons playing for restless children wafted incongruously through the air, but the adults were hushed. A police officer entered and put the parents’ worst fears into words: their children were gone. The wails that followed could be heard from outside, sounding the end of a horrifying shooting that took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults in the school.
It was about 9:30 a.m., when the school locks its doors to the outside world, demanding identification from visitors. What happened next sounded different depending on where you were in the school when a normal school day exploded.
Pops. Bangs. Thundering, pounding booms that echoed, and kept coming and coming. Screams and the cries of children ebbed, until there was only the gunfire.
Countless safety drills learned over generations kicked in. Teachers sprang to their doors and turned the locks tight. Children and adults huddled in closets, crawled under desks and crouched in classroom corners.
Laura Feinstein, a reading support teacher, reached for her telephone. “I called the office and said, ‘Barb, is everything O.K.?’ and she said, ‘There is a shooter in the building.’ ”
“I heard gunshots going on and on and on,” Ms. Feinstein said.
Even in the gym, the loudest room in any school on a given day, something sounded very wrong. “Really loud bangs,” said Brendan Murray, 9, who was there with his fourth-grade class. “We thought that someone was knocking something over. And we heard yelling and we heard gunshots. We heard lots of gunshots.”
“We heard someone say, “ ‘Put your hands up!’ ” Brendan said. “I heard, ‘Don’t shoot!’ We had to go into the closet in the gym.”
In the library, Yvonne Cech, a librarian, locked herself, an assistant and 18 fourth graders in a closet behind file cabinets while the sound of gunfire thundered outside.
Witnesses said later that they heard as many as 100 gunshots, but saw next to nothing in their hiding places. What was happening?
“Some people,” a little girl said later, searching for words, “they got a stomachache.”
The shooting finally stopped. Most teachers kept the children frozen in hiding. Some 15 minutes later, there was another sound, coming from the school intercom. It had been on the whole time. A voice said, “It’s O.K. It’s safe now.”
Brendan, in the gym, said, “Then someone came and told us to run down the hallway. There were police at every door. There were lots of people crying and screaming.”
The officers led children past the carnage. “They said ‘Close your eyes, hold hands.’” said Vanessa Bajraliu, 9. Outside, a nightmare version of the school was taking shape. Police officers swarmed with dogs and roared overhead in helicopters. There were armored cars and ambulances.
Inside, the librarians and children had been hiding in the closet for 45 minutes when a SWAT team arrived and escorted them out.
Word spread quickly through the small town. At nearby Danbury Hospital, doctors and nurses girded for an onslaught of wounded victims. “We immediately convened four trauma teams to be ready for casualties,” a spokeswoman, Andrea Rynn, said. Nurses, surgeons, internal medicine and imaging specialists, as well as staff members from pathology and the hospital lab, rushed to assemble in the emergency room to receive an influx of patients from the shooting. An influx that never arrived. Only three victims came to the hospital, two of whom did not survive. The rest were already dead.
“I’ve been here for 11 years,” Ms. Feinstein, the teacher, said. “I can’t imagine who would do this to our poor little babies.” .........
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