Sandy Hook shooting: Stories of heroism, ways to help

As the nation and the world focus on the Connecticut school shooting, many people are turning to local news sources in Newtown for information and ways to help.

Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News/AP
A man hugs his young daughters as they attend a vigil at Saint Rose of Lima church Friday night in Newtown, Conn.

As news continues to emerge about the school shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, many Americans are eager to help in whatever way they can.

Some of the best advice – and some of the best reporting on this national tragedy – can be found at two local web sites in Newtown.

The Newtown Bee features “stories of heroism” on its web site. Newtown.patch includes breaking news, profiles, and information about a fund that has been set up to support the community.

United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) extends our most sincere condolences and prayers to all those families affected by the devastating events in Newtown/Sandy Hook, Connecticut,” writes David Deschenes, an official with UWWC, on Newtown.patch. “While the eyes of the world may be on Newtown/Sandy Hook, to our staff, volunteers and contributors, Newtown is home. We will stand with the community and everyone affected directly and indirectly by this senseless event as we face the days and weeks ahead.”

When tragedy strikes: a prayerful response to the shootings in Connecticut

Donations may be made online via this link or sent to:

Sandy Hook School Support Fund
 c/o Newtown Savings Bank
 39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470

The Newtown Bee reports on Friday night’s prayer services at the St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church and the Newtown United Methodist Church. St John's Episcopal Church in Sandy Hook will hold a prayer service at noon on Saturday.

In the Newtown Bee, John Voket writes of the “Stories Of Heroism Emerging From School Shooting Tragedy.”

There was the school custodian, bleary-eyed and shaking off expressions of thanks and praise, who, as shots were ringing out, reportedly ran through the school halls making sure classroom doors were locked from the inside.

And the school nurse who fought the urge to run toward the commotion to help, instead following the protocol and training she received never thinking she would have to use it. That adherence to her training likely saved her life.

Moments after taking cover under her desk per her training, she said saw the boots of the gunman as he entered her office. The individual stood there for a few moments and then moved on down the hallway firing more shots.

There were the library staffers who heard commotion on the school's public address system and learned there was a gunman in the building. After rushing a number of students into a storage closet and barricading it with file cabinets, they initially would not even open the door for police who were standing outside until they were called by emergency operators and convinced it was safe to exit with the children.

And two cafeteria workers who heard shots and dropped to the ground, crawling into a utility closet and locking themselves in until help arrived.

But none were more tragic than the accounts of Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was emerging from a meeting and apparently saw the gunman and warned several colleagues who were about to step into the hallway behind her, and into the shooter's direct line of fire. The last thing one witness recalled was her turning back and yelling a warning to lock the door as she apparently confronted the gunman. A few moments later she was shot.

During the coming days as Newtown attempts to try and come to grips with this monumental tragedy, more of these stories will surely surface.

But these initial reports reinforce the fact that Sandy Hook Elementary School staffers successfully used the training they received in preparation for the unthinkable, along with their instincts and knowledge of the facility, to protect themselves, their colleagues, and most importantly the children who were under their care.

As details of the tragedy emerge, more such stories no doubt will be told.

When tragedy strikes: a prayerful response to the shootings in Connecticut

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