In a few minutes, 20 children and six educators were dead. Eighteen of the pupils — between the ages of 5 and 10 — died where they fell, investigators say. Two more were pronounced dead at an area hospital.
Inside the classroom, Vollmer’s job — as it has been nearly every day for 18 years — was to keep the children calm, focused on the task at hand.
“You could hear what sounded like pops, gunshots,” she told CNN late Friday….
The children had been through emergency lockdown drills at the schools. So when Vollmer locked the doors and put the blinds down they knew what to do, “go over in the safe area” in the back of the classroom.
There, Vollmer read to the children.
Still the children knew something was not right. “It didn’t seem a natural thing to them,” she said.
When they asked questions about what was happening, Vollmer and her teaching aides told them: “We’re not really sure, but we’re going to be safe, because we’re sitting over here and we’re all together.”…First-grade teacher Kaitlin Roig heard what sounded like the rapid firing of an assault rifle.
“I knew something was wrong,” she told ABC “World News” anchor Diane Sawyer.
She herded the 14 children, ages 6 and 7, into the class bathroom. She helped some climb onto the toilet so they could all fit in the tiny room. Then she locked the door.
“I just told them we have to be absolutely quiet,” Roig told Sawyer.
As the minutes ticked by, the children asked Roig if the could “go see if anyone is out there.”
No, she told them.
“If they started crying, I would take their face and tell them, ‘It’s going to be OK.’ I wanted that to be the last thing they heard, not the gunfire in the hall.”…
Soon police officers were banging on Vollmer’s classroom door.
The kindergartners were told to line up and cover their eyes as they were led by police out of the school to a nearby firehouse, Vollmer said.