Personal tales of terror emerge from mass shooting

By Todd Tongen, Reporter, Anchor, ttongen@Local10.com
Published On: Dec 14 2012 04:44:04 PM EST
Updated On: Dec 14 2012 09:03:16 PM EST

Personal accounts from students and family members who were at the scene of the school massacre in Connecticut on Friday.

NEWTOWN, Conn. -

A 17-year-old boy recalls the moments his 8-year-old sister realized her school was under fire.

"She heard like the intercom came on in the school and she heard a scream and a gunshot, or two gun shots," he said. "They hid in the closet. She was in art class and they had to hide in the closet and they were quiet."

That's when he realized his sister's life, along with her classmates will never be the same.

"Eventually, when they were leaving, the police made them hold hands and told them to close their eyes," he said.

The personal tales of terror are emerging from the mass murder as the children and parents of the tiny town of Newtown, Conn., reel from the unthinkable. 

"We saw police officers and we heard them on the roof and in our building," said a girl identified as Alexis. "Police officers ran out the door trying to find the guy."

"It was shocking," Alexis' father said. "I got the call at work and I can't believe a small town like this would ever have anything like this happen. To be in an elementary school, it is unheard of."

"It doesn't even seem real," said Alexis' mother. "It does not seem like it is even possible. It is like you read it in the paper, you see it in the news and you are like 'Oh my God, that poor family.' When something happens so close to home ... I think I am still in shock."

In the chaos of multiple casualties, people were searching for loved ones, hoping for the best and dreading the worst.

"It was really kind of mayhem in the room," said one father. "With all the kids and teachers trying to identify where yours is, and making sure that they are safe, and then trying to find out the situation and make sure everyone else is safe."

Some parents breathed a sigh of relief after finding their child.

"I am just glad I found my kid and he is OK," said another parent whose son attends the school. "His teachers are alright too, but I heard some teachers might not be alright."

Then the horror of what happened was revealed on television. As many as 27 people -- 18 of them children -- had been fatally shot.

As the casualties mounted, so did the psychological toll.

It is safe to say nearly everyone inside that school today was wounded one way or another.

"My son was in the gym when it happened," said a man at the scene. "So I think that he heard the gunshots. I think it is going to be one of those things where they are trying to understand what happened. When we tell them ultimately what happened in detail, it is going to make it much worse."

The details are too gruesome to even imagine telling a child.

Among the dead, the schools principal, Dawn Hochsprung.

Unfortunately, the names of many more will follow.