Conor Berry, The Republican
on December 16, 2012 at 8:20 PM, updated December 16, 2012 at 8:53 PM
NEWTOWN, Conn. — It was a long, agonizing ride home from college for Sarah Feinstein, who traveled from East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., to Newtown on Saturday to be with her mother, a survivor of Friday’s school shooting here.
“It was brutal,” she said of the 570-plus-mile journey home, particularly since she knew she was returning to a town that would never quite be the same again.
“She was there,” Feinstein said of her mother, Laura Feinstein, a special education and reading teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into the school and fatally shot 26 people, including 20 youngsters between the ages of six and seven.
“She lost six of her colleagues. She lost three of her students,” Sarah, 21, said of her mother, who was home Sunday trying to recover from the terror and tumult of the shooting.
“She’s just traumatized by it all,” Sarah said.
Laura Feinstein got lucky, and her daughter knows it.
The teacher called Barbara Halstead, a secretary in the school’s main office, after hearing a series of loud bangs. “I called the office and said, ‘Barb, is everything O.K.?’ and she said, ‘There is a shooter in the building,’ ” Laura Feinstein told the New York Times. “I heard gunshots going on and on and on.”
Shortly before 10 a.m., the gunfire finally stopped. All of the victims, including the 20 children, had been shot multiple times. Most of the gunfire took place inside two first-grade classrooms, with 14 students killed in one room and six in the other. Twelve of the young victims were girls, eight were boys.
Lanza delivered a final fatal shot to his head as first responders arrived at the school, according to law enforcement officials.
Sarah Feinstein reunited with some of her former classmates at Newtown High School on Sunday to raise money for shooting victims’ families. She was joined by Mark Scheunemann, 21, who said the shooting has left a permanent stain on the town of 27,000. The traumatic experience also has turned the normally joyous holiday season into a period of mourning and reflection.
“It really kills the spirit,” he said.