This morning, a group of people gathered around a table in a meeting room at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. The topic was a struggling second-grader. Attendees included the mother of the child, the principal, the vice principal and the school psychologist. It was about 9:30. "Pop. Pop. Pop." That's what the mother of the second-grader said it sounded like. The sound was coming from the hall.
The sound of gunfire, confusion, a lockdown and then an evacuation. Witnesses, students and parents told frightening stories Friday about a school shooting that police say left six adults and 20 children dead.
Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung just entered a Ph.D. program. She led a school district's strategic planning panel. She won a national school grant. She could be "a tough lady in the right sort of sense," a friend said. Among it all, she found time to smile and exuded memorable enthusiasm. The longtime educator's career seemed to be peaking when she became principal two years ago of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which has 525 pupils from kindergarten to fourth grade. On Friday, Hochsprung, 47, was fatally shot inside her school in a massacre that killed five other adults and 20 students.
Principal Dawn Hochsprung, killed in Friday's shooting at her Connecticut elementary school, recently installed a new security system to ensure student safety.
At home and at work, there was no doubting Mary Sherlach's success. Professionally, she'd worked in three Connecticut school systems before settling in as school psychologist at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, writing on her website that "I truly enjoy working with the SHS staff, parents and children." Personally, she'd been married to her husband for more than three decades and, together, they were "proud parents" of two daughters in their late 20s. It all ended in an instant Friday morning, when, authorities say, 20-year-old Adam Lanza went into Sherlach's school and killed her and 25 others, including 20 young students.
School shootings such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, may have long-lasting consequences, but with proper support, many children are able to move on, experts say. Children need to be with their families as quickly as possible after exposure to such horrific events, said Steven Marans, director of the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence/Childhood Violent Trauma Center at Yale University's Child Study Center.
Here is a list of some violent incidents at U.S. schools over the last 20 years:
Mass shootings in a mall, a movie theater and now in an elementary school full of young kids. Is there any place in America that is safe anymore?
Wiping away tears and choking up, President Barack Obama mourned the "beautiful little kids" slain Friday in a shooting massacre at a Connecticut school and called for preventing similar tragedies "regardless of the politics." It was a rare emotional display by Obama, known more for stoicism in such situations, and he referred to other recent U.S. mass shootings in calling for a national response.
In the wake of Friday's school shooting in Connecticut that killed nearly 30 people, most of them children, the White House said President Barack Obama will consider a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban in his second term. "It does remain a commitment of his," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters about the Clinton-era ban that expired in 2004.
From the first moments after Friday's massacre, religious leaders were among the first people to whom worried and grieving families turned for help.
Record prize money and an extra rest day for finalists -- U.S. Open tennis chiefs have taken note of player complaints and made significant changes for 2013. The tournament's women's final will now be held on a Sunday and the men's title match on a Monday, while the total prize purse will increase by $4 million.