Sally Cox has been the school nurse at Sandy Hook Elementary for fifteen years. Last Friday began as any other– with the pledge of allegiance, followed by a locking of the outer doors at 9:15.
But roughly 15 minutes later, before the normal stream of children had time to come in with the usual coughs and ailments, Cox said she heard a rough “popping.”
“My first thought was, was this something with the heating– something– or did something fall?” she remembered shakily.
But she had a sort of sense of impending doom when the secretary called her name, remembering the fear in her voice.
That “popping” had likely been the gunman shooting his way into the school, and he was headed straight for the nurse’s office.
Cox related what happened next:
Sally Cox: …The popping kept going off. And I just dove underneath my computer desk. The back of the desk has a small opening for, like, wires to come out. And I just peeked. I could see his feet and his legs from the knees down. And he– his feet were facing in my direction. And I just froze with fear. And then he just– it was just seconds and then he turned around and I could hear him walk out. I heard the door close and then I just heard popping starting all over again. And then the secretary, she was down behind my desk and we pulled the phone off the desk and she called 911.
[Interviewer] Scott Pelley: And she said what?
Sally Cox: She said– I– she said, “We have a shoo– please send help right away. We have a shooter in the building.” And then we just wanted to get out of there. And then we just ran into my big supply closet… We pulled that door closed. So we were behind two locked doors. And we could just hear the popping continue. And we heard screams. There’s nothing we could do. You know? It was just a helpless, horrible feeling. You know? And just like a nightmare that– couldn’t believe that– you know, you just think it’s a bad dream. After some time, I think it was about 11:15, so we had been in that closet for about an hour and a half, I opened the door and I peeked out, ’cause my office has a lot of windows and looks into the courtyard. And I just saw what looked like maybe SWAT people but I didn’t know, you know, who they were. I didn’t know if there were other shooters. And it wasn’t until 1:15 when I– somebody was jiggling the door. And– but nobody called out. So I decided to be brave enough and open that door into the office and a lot of state police officers were there at that point. And they were very surprised to see me. [Emphasis added]
Cox had been in the office roughly four hours by the time she left. When she was escorted from the building, officers told her to shut her eyes to spare her the sight of the students and teachers she once cared for.
Here is video from CBS’ special report, which also includes interviews with those close to the Lanza family, a student in Lanza’s English class, and an expert in school shootings: