The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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December 14, 2012

Updated 7:30 p.m. | Man kills 26 at Conn. school, including 20 kids

(Continued)

NEWTOWN, Conn. —

Theodore Varga said he was in a meeting with other fourth-grade teachers when he heard the gunfire, but there was no lock on the door.

He said someone turned on the public address system so that "you could hear the hysteria that was going on. I think whoever did that saved a lot of people. Everyone in the school was listening to the terror that was transpiring."

Also, a custodian went running around, warning people there was a gunman in the school, Varga said.

"He said, 'Guys! Get down! Hide!'" Varga said. "So he was actually a hero." The teacher said he did not know if the custodian survived.

Varga said he tried to kick out an air-conditioning unit in the window so the five teachers in the room could escape, but he only managed to knock out the wood next to it, and the space wasn't big enough for all of them to squeeze through.

He said he smelled gun smoke in the halls as he ran out to escape through a door. Varga then went around to help three other teachers climb out of the window of the first-floor room they had been in.

Mergim Bajraliu, 17, heard the gunshots echo from his home and ran to check on his 9-year-old sister at the school. He said his sister, who was fine, heard a scream come over the intercom at one point. He said teachers were shaking and crying as they came out of the building.

"Everyone was just traumatized," he said.

Mary Pendergast, who lives close to the school, said her 9-year-old nephew was in the school at the time of the shooting, but wasn't hurt after his music teacher helped him take cover in a closet.

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