US school massacre: The 3 teachers who threw themselves into gunfire to save kids

Victoria Soto, Principal Dawn Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach. (Instagram/Reuters/Facebook)

Three of the eight adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School by evil gunman Adam Lanza, were teachers who gave their lives to save save their little students, it has emerged.

The teachers recognized the gunman as the son of a kindergarten teacher there.

Twenty-eight people died in the shooting rampage, including 20 young children between the ages of five and ten, alleged gunman Adam Lanza, who took his own life, and his mother, who was shot before the school massacre.

Victoria Soto, Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach have been identified as the heroes who threw themselves in front of the gunfire to protect students.

When Lanza started firing Hochsprung and Sherlach are believed to have run into the hallway to confront the danger and were executed.

The New York Times reported that Hochsprung buzzed Lanza into the school, bypassing the newly-installed security system - recognizing him as the son of Nancy Lanza, a teacher there.

Adam had already killed his mother at the home they shared nearby. He took three of her guns and used her car to drive to the school.

Who was Adam Lanza?

Family and friends remember Adam Lanza as many things — intelligent, nerdy, remote, thin.

Now the world will remember him as a mass murderer. The 20-year-old is believed to have killed his mother and gunned down more than two dozen people, 20 of them children, at a school in the U.S. state of Connecticut before he killed himself.

He might have suffered from a personality disorder, law enforcement officials said.

So far, authorities have not spoken publicly of any possible motive. They found no note, and Lanza had no criminal history. Witnesses said the shooter didn't utter a word.

Adam Lanza had attended Newtown High School, and news clippings from recent years show him on the honor roll. Joshua Milas, a classmate who was in the technology club with Lanza, said he was generally a happy person but that he hadn't seen him in a few years.

"We would hang out, and he was a good kid. He was smart," said Milas, who graduated in 2009. "He was probably one of the smartest kids I know. He was probably a genius."

The tech club would gather at a member's home, hook up their computers into a small network and play games. Gloria Milas, Joshua's mother, said Adam Lanza's mother once hosted.

She recalled a school meeting in 2008 organized by the gunman's mother to try to save the job of the club's adviser. Milas said Adam Lanza's brother Ryan said a few words in support of the adviser, who he said had taken his brother under his wing.

"My brother has always been a nerd," Ryan Lanza said, according to Milas. "He still wears a pocket protector."

Catherine Urso, who attended a vigil Friday evening in Newtown, said her college-age son knew the killer and remembered him for his alternative style.

"He just said he was very thin, very remote and was one of the goths," referring to a style of dress noted for a heavily black wardrobe.

Authorities say Adam Lanza shot his mother at their home before driving her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School and carried out the massacre, officials said.

A law enforcement official said a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols, and a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle were found in the school and a fourth weapon was found outside the school, and that investigators were going to shooting ranges and gun stores to see if Lanza had frequented them

The official was not authorized to discuss information with reporters and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ryan Lanza, now 24 and living in Hoboken, New Jersey, was being questioned, another law enforcement official said. Ryan Lanza told authorities that his brother was believed to suffer from a personality disorder, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the record about the unfolding investigation.

The official did not elaborate, and it was unclear exactly what type of disorder Adam Lanza might have had.

Ryan Lanza had been cooperative and was not under arrest or in custody, but investigators searched his computers and phone records. The brother told law enforcement he had not been in touch with Adam since about 2010.

Adam Lanza and his mother, Nancy, lived in Newtown, a prosperous community of 27,000 people about 60 miles (95 kilometers) northeast of New York City.

Lanza's parents filed for divorce in 2008, according to court records. His father, Peter Lanza, lives in Stamford, Connecticut, according to public records, and he reportedly works as a tax director for General Electric.

Lanza's aunt Marsha Lanza said her nephew was raised by kind, nurturing parents who would not have hesitated to seek mental help for him if he needed it.

If her son had needed counseling, "Nancy wasn't one to deny reality," she said Friday. Marsha Lanza said her husband had seen Adam as recently as June and recalled nothing out of the ordinary.

Lanza said she was close with Nancy Lanza and had sent her a Facebook message Friday morning asking how she was doing. Nancy Lanza never responded.

Nancy Lanza's mother was too distraught to speak when reached by phone at her home in Brooksville, Florida.

"I just don't know, and I can't make a comment right now," Dorothy Hanson, 78, said in a shaky voice as she started to cry. She said she hadn't heard anything official about her daughter and grandsons. She declined to comment further and hung up.

At least one parent said Adam Lanza's mother was a substitute teacher at the school. But her name did not appear on a staff list. And the law enforcement official said investigators were unable to establish any connection so far between her and the school.

An official who spoke on condition of anonymity said it was not clear that Adam Lanza had a job, and there was no indication of law enforcement interviews or search warrants at a place of business.

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