PUPILS who escaped the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School relieved their terror as shockwaves from the massacre tore apart the tranquillity of the small rural community of Newtown, Connecticut.
Pictures from the scene showed pupils – some crying, others looking frightened – being rushed away through a car park in a line, with their hands on one another’s shoulders, having been told to keep their eyes closed when running past certain areas of the school.
Richard Wilford said his seven-year-old son, Richie, told of hearing a noise that “sounded like what he described as cans falling”.
A teacher went to check on the noise, came back in, locked the door and had the children huddle in a corner until police arrived.
“There’s no words,” Mr Wilford said. “It’s sheer terror, a sense of imminent danger, to get to your child and be there to protect him.”
Mergim Bajraliu, 17, heard the gunshots echo from his home and raced to check on his nine-year-old sister.
The youngster, who was fine, heard a scream over the intercom, and he said teachers were shaking and crying. “Everyone was just traumatised,” he added.
Robert Licata’s six-year-old son was in class when the gunman burst in and shot the teacher.
“That’s when my son grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door,” he said. The gunman did not say a word.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration would “do everything we can to support state and local law enforcement”.
He would not say whether the shooting would make gun control a higher priority on the President’s agenda, but he said there would be a day for discussion on that policy issue. “But I don’t think today is that day,” he added.
The massacre is the third major shooting incident in the US this year following the July attack that killed 12 people at a premiere of a Batman film in Aurora, Colorado, and the deaths of six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in August.