Sandy Hook Elementary staffer Shari Thornberg was happily showing off photos of her son to co-workers when she heard a "weird noise" that she mistook for the janitor taking down risers in the gym. But when the intercom came on, she realized the "pop-pop-pop" sound she heard was gunfire, reports USA Today. The teacher's aide, who worked with a fourth-grader with special needs, hurried into a small closet with two other colleagues. Through the locked door they heard "screaming, crying, and whimpering" on the intercom and the janitor ordering the shooter to put down his gun.
"We just waited in the closet, saying The Lord's Prayer out loud over and over again, and praying for all staff members and the children," Thornberg says. She also worries that she may have passed Adam Lanza in the parking lot as she arrived late to school that day around 9:30am. Thornberg also thinks that the school principal, Dawn Hochsprung, may have distracted Lanza from entering a classroom where 16 first-graders were hiding—he instead entered two others. Click to read an account from one of the student survivors. (Read more Sandy Hook Elementary School stories.)