Newtown School Shooting's Child Witnesses

Much of what we know about Friday's massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school, comes from the first-hand accounts of children. The survivors, who saw and heard an armed gunman shoot down their teachers and classmates, have provided chillingly detailed reports for major news outlets and law enforcement. Despite the shamefully exhaustive history of school shootings in our country, it's hard to remember another time when so many children under the age of ten were quoted as witnesses.       

As the victim count rose by Friday afternoon, the President held back tears in addressing the families of both the victims and the survivors, whose "innocence has been torn away from them too early." Throughout the day, images of children in shock outside the school were projected on television, at the same time as ethical questions were raised about the process of interviewing young witnesses. Here is a collection of accounts, published in major news outlets, gathered from children who saw and heard the unimaginable. Although some of witnesses' family names were made public, we chose not to include them in this report.


An 8-year-old witness in a classroom near where the gunman opened fire: "We heard an ambulance and police officer come and everyone was a little scared crying and I felt actually a little sick and like I was going to throw up," the third-grader  told ABC News. "Kids were crying, not really like screaming, but they were all huddling together. They felt so sick."

A 10-year-old boy's account of being trapped in the school gym, according to his mother: "He said he heard a lot of loud noises and then screaming," the boy's mother told CBS. "Then the gym teachers immediately gathered the children in a corner and kept them safe in a corner...He said the policeman came in and helped them get out of the building and told them to run...and they ran to the firehouse." The boy also told his mother he saw what appeared to be a body under a blanket.

A 9-year old girl's account, according to her 17-year old brother: "She heard a scream come over the intercom at one point," the girl's brother told CBS local news.

A student whose age was not provided: "The gym teachers told us to go in the corner, so we all huddled," she told NBC news. "And I kept hearing these booming noises. And we all … started crying. All the gym teachers told us to go into the office where no one could find us," she added. "So then a police officer came in and told us to run outside. So we did and we came in the firehouse."

A 7-year-old boy in a classroom near where the gunman opened fire: "[It] sounded like what he described as cans falling," the boy told his father.


A 9-year-old boy who recounted his experience to The New York Times: "We were in the gym, and I heard really loud bangs...We thought that someone was knocking something over. And we heard yelling, and we heard gunshots. We heard lots of gunshots. We heard someone say, 'Put your hands up.' I heard, 'Don't shoot.' We had to go into the closet in the gym. Then someone came and told us to run down the hallway. There were police at every door. There were lots of people crying and screaming."