‘Absolutely heartbreaking’: Sandy Hook teacher’s terrifying experience

Megan Cloherty, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Teacher Laura Feinstein, a reading specialist, was inside Sandy Hook Elementary School when the shooter began his rampage. Laura is the sister-in-law of WTOP mid-day anchor Debra Feinstein and she spoke with WTOP hours after the shooting.

Feinstein recalled the moments when she realized a shooting was taking place in the school. She describes the action she took:

“I was not an eyewitness to the shooting. I did not see the shooter or any potential victims. I was in the back of the building, in my classroom. Getting ready to greet my students.

They were on their way down and I heard an unusual noise, which was kind of metallic sounding – ‘pop, pop, pop.’ It sounded like gunshots.

And I hurried my two kids into the classroom, I locked the door and called the office. And the office secretary picked up the phone and I said, ‘Is everything OK?’ And she said, ‘There’s someone in the building shooting.’ And then I hung up.

I took my two kids, we were hiding under the computer desk and behind the shelves. I tried calling 911, but my cellphone didn’t have reception so I texted my husband and asked him to call for me and we were just waiting.”

And we just kept hearing shots and shots and shots and shots. It was a lot of them. I don’t know how many, but lots. We just waited and hoped and prayed that someone would come get us out safely and they did.

Feinstein says she and her two students waited 40 minutes before someone came in and let them out of the room. She says it felt like an eternity. Feinstein says she could hear what was happening in the school’s main office as the intercom was left on.

“So we could hear little bits of conversation. It wasn’t very clear but, at one point, I did hear a voice saying, ‘You’re safe, we’re here, it’s OK.’ At that point, I realized help was finally on its way. And then, we just waited until someone came in and let us out of the room.”

The small group of children Feinstein was supervising was aware something serious was going on, she says.

“They were scared. They were definitely starting to sense that ya know, this was not the typical lockdown drill, which we practice often. I had just a small group of four, and we were able to keep calm. We played some games to, ya know, distract ourselves from what was going on ’til we got out to safety. It seemed like an eternity.”

Feinstein says her group was ushered to the Sandy Hook Fire Department, adjacent to the school, where parents could be reunited with their children.

When asked about seeing kids find their parents, she described it as “very emotional. Heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking.”

No one is allowed to re-enter the school at this time as it is an active crime scene, Feinstein said.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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