Maryrose Kristopik had 20 children in her classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School when suspected shooter Adam Lanza began his rampage, but the teacher herded them into a closet and kept watch even as the gunman banged at the door outside and demanded to be let in.
Kristopik is one of the several heroic stories to have emerged from Friday’s horrific school shooting in Connecticut. The music teacher, who was able to survive along with all of the children in her care, said she kept the students calm by saying prayers and telling them she loved them.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Maryrose Kristopik said she barricaded herself in a closet with the nine- and 10-year-olds while Adam Lanza banged on the door, screaming: “Let me in! Let me in!”
With the gunman just inches away, Kristopik blocked the door and held the handle.
“I was just trying to be as strong as possible,” she said. “I was thinking about the children. I told them that we had to keep quiet and we were hiding and nobody knew we were there.”
‘Of course I was afraid too,'” Maryrose Kristopik added. “I wanted them to be quiet, I thought it was a pretty secure out of the way place.”
Parents are hailing Kristopik as a hero, with many telling media that their children are alive because of her actions. Kristopik herself said she’s not a hero.
“I did what any other teacher would have done and I know there were others like me doing the same.They were doing whatever they could.
“They were my fourth graders. We held hands, we hugged and I just tried to talk to them a little.
“We also said some prayers and one of the children said we should say a prayer, and we did.”
After the shooting, Kristopik said she would rather look ahead than dwell on the shooting.
“All of the staff members worked hard at our school to help our children,” Maryrose Kristopik told the New York Daily News. “Now it’s time to focus on helping the families who lost their children today.”