When the 24 year-old shooter, Adam Lanza, entered the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday morning, Yvonne Cech realized that something bad was about to happen and started thinking of ways to protect her students.
When Cech, a Greek-American librarian, heard the first gunshots she locked herself, an assistant, and 18 fourth-graders in a closet behind file cabinets in the library.
“We spent 45 minutes locked in a closet during the shootings,” she said to local media in Connecticut after she made it out of the school building.
“The SWAT team escorted us out,” and then all 18 children were reunited with their parents.
The Greek-American librarian was one of the heroes who saved her students’ lives. Victoria Soto was another teacher who sacrificed her life to save her class. None of her students were harmed.
There were 20 children between ages 5 and 10 the staff could not save. Their names and lives could be those from any primary school on either side of the Atlantic.
Among them are Daniel Barden, aged six; Chase Kowalski, whose sister Natalie attends the school but escaped injury; Jesse Lewis, six, whose class were set to make gingerbread houses that day; Grace McDonnell, aged six, who lived a street away from her killer; Ana Marquez-Greene, aged seven, the daughter of Canadian jazz saxophonist Jimmy Greene; Emilie Parker, aged six, whose family had moved to Newtown from Utah only a year ago; Avielle Richman, Catherine Hubbard, Noah Vabner, and Benjamin Wheeler, all aged six.
The gunman, Adam Lanza, killed 27 people in total including his mother. Before heading to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where his mother was also a teacher, he shot and killed her at a house they shared in Newtown.
The motive for the mass killing, the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, remains unknown.