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December 15, 2012

Connecticut officials: Principal died lunging at gunman

NEWTOWN, Conn. —

Town officials in Connecticut say the principal who died in the rampage at an elementary school was killed while lunging at the gunman as she tried to overtake him.

Dawn Hochsprung was gunned down in Friday's massacre in Newtown. Board of Education chairwoman Debbie Liedlien says administrators were coming out of a meeting when the gunman forced his way into the school and ran toward him.

Jeff Capeci is chairman of the town's Legislative Council. Asked whether Hochsprung is a hero, he says, "From what we know, it's hard to classify her as anything else."

Hochsprung had worked at the school for two years. Both Liedlien and Capeci say she immediately became a beloved figure. Liedlien says "it's so sad to lose somebody like her" and that residents are feeling "a deep sense of loss" over her death.

The 20-year-old killer, carrying at least two handguns, committed suicide at the school, bringing the death toll to 28, authorities said.

The rampage, coming less than two weeks before Christmas, was the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre that claimed 33 lives in 2007.

"Our hearts are broken today," a tearful President Barack Obama, struggling to maintain his composure, said at the White House. He called for "meaningful action" to prevent such shootings, saying, "As a country, we have been through this too many times."

Police shed no light on the motive for the attack. The gunman, Adam Lanza, was believed to suffer from a personality disorder and lived with his mother, said a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation but was not authorized to discuss it.

Panicked parents looking for their children raced to Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, a prosperous New England community of about 27,000 people 60 miles northeast of New York City. Police told youngsters at the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade school to close their eyes as they were led from the building so that they wouldn't see the blood and broken glass.

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