Washington: As US authorities began piecing together the mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut - the state neighbouring New York - that left 27, including 20 children dead, stories of heroism and quick thinking began emerging from the terrible tragedy.
Among them was Sandy Hook Elementary School's Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was emerging from a meeting. She 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 cited by local Newtown Bee 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.
Then 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, local media said.
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, the Newton Bee reported.
Two cafeteria workers dropped to the ground on hearing shots and crawled into a utility closet and locked themselves in until help arrived. The school nurse, who fought the urge to run toward the commotion to help and took cover under her desk per her training, said she saw the boots of the gunman as he entered her office.
The gunman stood there for a few moments and then moved on down the hallway firing more shots. That's what saved her.