Daughter of murdered Sandy Hook principal remembers day of school shooting six years later

"I still do not believe that there is 'healing' from a trauma like this. You just learn to survive. For six years, I have survived.”

Dawn Hochsprung’s pride in Sandy Hook Elementary was clear. She regularly tweeted photos from her time as principal there.‘‘She had an extremely likable style about her,’’ said Gerald Stomski, first selectman of Woodbury, where Hochsprung lived and had taught. ‘‘She was an extremely charismatic principal while she was here.’’Officials said she died while lunging at the gunman in an attempt to overtake him.
Dawn Hochsprung. –REUTERS

In the last hours of her life, Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung went into work happy. She played some jokes on a colleague, helped someone get a coffee stain out of a sweater, and returned a scarf she’d borrowed to wear to an event the night before.

Then the shooting began that would leave Hochsprung and 25 others, including 20 children, inside the Connecticut elementary school dead on Dec. 14, 2012.

“I am grateful to know that she was so happy that morning,” Hochsprung’s daughter, Erica Lafferty Garbatini, wrote on Twitter Friday.

Her mother ran toward the gunfire, and, on the sixth anniversary of the massacre, Lafferty Garbatini wondered what the 47-year-old mother of two daughters was thinking in her final moments.

Advertisement

“She saw the shooter,” she wrote. “She turned briefly to warn the others. ‘SHOOTER, STAY PUT!’ I wonder if she knew that those words would be her last. I wonder if she knew she would be killed for walking out of that room. I wonder what she thought in those seconds between being hit and death. Pain? The school? Her children? Mom? Grandchildren?”

Lafferty Garbatini recalled the hours of anguish as she and her sister learned of the shooting, saw it reported on the news that their mother had been shot, and drove to the school.

We drove there with hope, Mom was just making sure all of the kids are safe,” she wrote. “She will call back. Maybe she was just grazed, we will meet her at the hospital. She will recover. I knew, but did not want to admit, that my world was about to come crashing down.”

For a while, she remembered, she was able to keep herself in a state of denial. But then it was confirmed — her mother was dead from multiple gunshot wounds.

Lafferty Garbatini went on to describe her mother’s funeral — how she and her sister were told an outfit with sleeves was needed to cover the gunshot wounds and the hours they stood as “thousands” came to pay their respects to Hochsprung.

Advertisement

Six years ago, my mother’s life, along with 25 others, were stolen from this world,” Lafferty Garbatini wrote. “Six years ago, my life was changed forever. I still do not believe that there is ‘healing’ from a trauma like this. You just learn to survive. For six years, I have survived.”

Read her full Twitter thread below:

Close

Get the latest breaking news sent directly to your phone. Download our free app.
Local
'There was zero time'
May 22, 2019 | 12:07 PM