Newtown, Conn. —
The sounds reached a room where Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school therapist Diane Day along with a school psychologist, other staff members and a parent were gathered for a 9:30 meeting.
"We were there for about five minutes chatting, and we heard 'Pop! Pop!, Pop!'" Day told The Wall Street Journal. "I went under the table."
A custodian ran around, warning people there was a gunman, Varga said.
"He said, 'Guys! Get down! Hide!'" Varga said.
At 9:30, Marci Benitez unlocked the door to Fun Kuts, the children's hair salon she and her husband run in the Sandy Hook neighborhood's small downtown, and prepared for the day. Minutes later, the first police car streaked past, sirens screaming. Then another. And another. And another.
Police radios crackled with first word of the shooting at 9:36, according to the New York Post.
"Sandy Hook School. Caller is indicating she thinks there's someone shooting in the building," a Newtown dispatcher radioed, according to a tape posted on the paper's website.
In the school, Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach leaped out of their seats and ran out of the room. Hochsprung viewed her school as a model, telling The Newtown Bee newspaper in 2010 that "I don't think you could find a more positive place to bring students to every day." She had worked to make Sandy Hook a place of safety, too, and in October, the 47-year-old principal shared a picture of the school's evacuation drill with the message "Safety first."
On this morning, Hochsprung didn't think twice about confronting the gunman. She died attempting to overtake Lanza, who was armed with two handguns and a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle, his primary weapon.
Sherlach also rushed to defend her students.