After an absolutely horrific and tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, on Friday, people across the nation are mourning for the families of the victims.
But from the terror and aftermath of the tragedy, many stories of bravery, heroism, and selflessness are beginning to emerge – young and old, staff and students, security teams and civilians. Here are ten of them:
1. Unidentified individual who turned on the intercom: On Friday morning, Sandy Hook teacher Theodore Varga was in a team meeting with the other fourth grade teachers, reminiscing about the previous evening's fourth-grade concert. "Everybody was joyful and cheerful. We were ending the week on a high note," he said. Suddenly, shots rang out. Someone had turned on the loudspeakers in the main office to alert the rest of the school. "You could hear the hysteria that was going on," Varga said. "Whoever did that saved a lot of people. Everyone in the school was listening to the terror that was transpiring."
2. Unidentified school custodian: One school custodian reportedly ran around the school, classroom-to-classroom, warning staff and students to get to a safe place. "He said, 'Guys! Get down! Hide!'" Varga said. "He was actually a hero." The identity of the custodian remains unknown/unreleased.
3. Principal Dawn Hochsprung & School Psychologist Mary Scherlach: At 9:30 a.m., Principal Dawn Hochsprung was in a meeting with school psychologist Mary Scherlach, a parent, and several staff members. They were talking about a second-grader when the gunman entered the school and fired shots. Hochsprung, 47, and Scherlach, 56, ran out into the hall to find the source, according to school therapist Diane Day. "They didn't think twice about confronting or seeing what was going on," she said. Hochsprung reportedly confronted the shooter and warned colleagues to stay behind, putting herself in the line of fire. According to Newsday, Hochsprung ran at the gunman in an attempt to subdue him, but was killed in the process. Scherlach, who followed Hochsprung into the hall, was also shot.
4. Unidentified lead teacher: Moments later, the gunman turned his attention to the room where the other members of the meeting hid. Because the door to the room didn't have a lock, the lead teacher held the door shut with her body to prevent the gunman from getting inside. She was subsequently shot through the door on her leg and arm. "She was our hero," Day said.
5. First Grade teacher Victoria Soto: Victoria Soto, 27, was trying to get her students to hide in closets and cabinets when the gunman entered her classroom, which was near the location where the gunfire started. Soto reportedly told him the students were in the gym, and the gunman, after seeing only Soto, fatally shot her. None of her students were harmed. "In our eyes, she's a hero," Soto's cousin and police officer Jim Wiltsie said.
6. Six-year-old son of Robert Licata: When the gunman turned his attention to the first-grade students after shooting their teacher, the six-year-old son of Robert Licata bravely "grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door," trying to get them to safety, according to his father. "He was very brave. He waited for his friends," Licata said.
7. First Grade teacher Kaitlin Roig:
Just a few yards away from the gunfire, first-grade teacher Kaitlin Roig rushed 15 students into a small bathroom once she heard the shots. "I told them to be quiet. I told them to be absolutely quiet," Roig said.
After quickly locking the door and dragging a bookcase across the doorway as an extra precaution, she went to comfort the students, who were crying and asking for their parents. A spark of inspiration hit her, and she decided to tell them that she loved them. "I wanted them to know that someone loved them and I wanted that to be one of the last things they heard, not the gunfire in the hallway," Roig said. "I thought we were all going to die."
8. Student in Kaitlin Roig's class: A brave first grader in Roig's class also helped his teacher comfort the other students. "One of my students, you know, would say things like, 'I know karate! I'll lead the way out,'" Roig recalled.
9. Unconfirmed teacher who pulled student into classroom:
Two students were loitering in the hall when shots rang out. Second grade teacher Abbey Clements, who The Telegraph reports, pulled them into her room and away from harm. "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," one of the boys said in an interview with CBS News.
10. Music teacher Maryrose Kristopik: Music teacher Maryrose Kristopik barricaded 20 students in closets, putting instruments, such as xylophones over the doors. She also reportedly held one of the door handles to prevent anyone from getting inside the classroom. The mother of one of Kristopik's students 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."
Though these are only ten stories, all of the teachers, staff, and students of Sandy Hook Elementary School ought to be commended for keeping each other safe throughout the ordeal. Special thanks to the policemen, EMTs, and rescue teams who responded promptly to help get everyone to safety.