Nine-year-old Nicholas Sabillon was remarkably composed as he recounted how the Connecticut gunman who killed his schoolmates pounded on the locked door of the room where he was hiding.
He shouted “Let me in, let me in!” said Nicholas, who was interviewed with his parents Jose and Sherry.
When the first shots rang out at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, music teacher Maryrose Kristopik ushered Nicholas’s class into a large closet and quickly locked the door. “We held onto the instruments to not make any noise,” said Nicholas, who clutched a gong.
“We were all really scared and then we prayed… Miss Kristopik gave us all lollipops. We thought it would be our last snack.
“Then we heard this glass shatter and we were all scared, and we heard knocking on the class door from the outside. Luckily, we were all quiet, and the guy was talking ‘Let me in, let me in!’ and we never opened the door.”
The shooter, identified as Adam Lanza, 20, eventually left the room and shot himself dead. Soon after, police officers swarmed into the school.
“The police made a line, they had guns pointing into all the rooms,” said Nicholas. “We ran down the center of them and we went outside.”
The class bolted across the recess yard, and the students ran “as fast as we could” to the nearby fire station, Nicholas recalled. At the station, they settled down, and firefighters gave them water and saltine crackers.
“Then our teacher came in and he was crying because he didn’t know if we were all safe,” said Nicholas. “We all hugged him as soon as he got in.”
His mother Sherry said she received a text message about shots heard around the school, but assumed that they were accidentally fired by a deer hunter.
“The next thing you know, a text came through saying that there was a shooting at the school. I tried to get 911 and they told me to call the Newtown police number. I called them and it was busy. I called my husband and he was already en route to the school.”
Initially, police told parents to stay away from the school, but once the site was secured, they were told to go to the fire station, where the survivors had gathered.
Sherry rushed in and immediately saw a friend Nicholas has known since he was a toddler, who was with his father. Nicholas was close by.
“I was so relieved I was kissing and hugging RJ, Nicky’s buddy, and then I was kissing and hugging Nicholas,” she said.
Sherry and her husband then searched the fire station for children of family friends. “There were some kids that were crying and were very emotional, and other children were just in shock,” she said.
At the time, parents were only told of three shootings — the principal, the school psychologist and someone who was hit in the foot.
“There was not one mention of children,” Sherry said. “We would never have thought that children were injured.”
For hours, she listened, incredulous, to news reports of an ever-increasing death toll.
Lanza slaughtered his own mother, six adults working at the school and 20 young children aged just six or seven before turning a gun on himself. He was armed with a military-style rifle and two handguns.
Nicholas did not mention seeing any bodies or blood, but the experience remained harrowing nonetheless.
“When you go to bed, it feels scary, and you keep having this dream in your head about it,” he said. “Because if you lived it, it’s always stuck in your head.”