In a tearful interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer, Kaitlin Roig, a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, recounted the horrific moments she experienced when 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza opened fire inside the school during class.
Roig swiftly rounded her 15 first-grade students into a small restroom — propping some of them on top of the toilet — and placed a bookshelf in front of the door. She managed to completely barricade she and her students as she wiped their tears and kept them calm and quiet until police rescued them. She became overwhelmed with emotions as she reflected upon — what she believed to be — her final words to the children. Snippets of the transcript are below:
On rushing her students to safety and keeping them calm:
ROIG: I put one of my students on top of the toilet. I just knew we had to get in there. I was telling them it’s going to be okay, you’re going to be all right. I pulled the book shelf before i closed the door in front of it.
SAWYER: Did you tell them to be quiet?
ROIG: Oh, yes, I told them to be absolutely quiet. Because I was just so afraid if he did come in, he would hear us and start shooting the door. I said we have to be absolutely quiet. And I said there are bad guys out there now. I just wanted us to be okay. And I was so so saddened that there are people who in this situation are not okay. And my heart, my heart goes out to anyone who knew them and was part of their lives. I can’t imagine.
SAWYER: Did they cry?
ROIG: If they started crying, i would take their face and say it’s going to be okay. Show me your smile. Like I really tried to, you know, and one of my students was saying, ‘I know karate, so it’s okay, I’ll lead the way out.’ They said…
SAWYER: ‘We want to go home for Christmas’?
ROIG: Yes ‘I just want to hug my mom,’ things like that that were just heart breaking. And in my mind — because you’re hearing — I’ve never been a part of something obviously anywhere near this traumatic.
On her “final words” to the students:
ROIG: And so I’m hearing the gunfire in the hallway and I’m thinking in my mind, ‘I’m the first classroom, why isn’t he coming?’ In my mind, I’m thinking as a six or seven-year-old what are your thoughts? I’m thinking that I almost have to be the parent, like I have to tell them — I said to them, ‘I need you to know that I love you all very much and that it’s going to be okay’ because i thought that was the last thing we were ever going to hear. I thought we were all going to die. I don’t know if that’s just teachers, but I wanted them to know — I wanted that to be one of the last things they heard, not the gunfire in the hallway. It’s just horrible.
View the heart-wrenching video