NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - 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, killing 26 people including 20 children and then himself. 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."
A well-liked and experienced administrator, Dawn Hochsprung had been principal since 2010, said Gerald Stomski, the first selectman of nearby Woodbury. He said police told him of her death.
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.
Hochsprung was a principal in Woodbury schools before taking the job in Newtown, Stomski said. He said people throughout town were mourning her death.
"She had an extremely likable style about her," Stomski said. "She was an extremely charismatic principal while she was here."
She frequently tweeted photos from her job and wrote upbeat tweets about what was going on at the school. Four days before she died, she posted a photo of two kindergarten girls paying for groceries over a toy cash register in a classroom. She called them "kinders" and saw them as "74 new opportunities to inspire lifelong learning!"
More hauntingly, she wrote a letter before the school year outlining new safety measures including locked doors during school hours, several publications reported, and tweeted a photo of students who'd been evacuated from the building during a safety drill earlier in the school year.
"I don't think you could find a more positive place to bring students to every day," she told The Newtown Bee newspaper in 2010 in a story about the hiring of new administrators in the district. She had worked for 12 years as an administrator before coming to Sandy Hook, including six years in nearby Danbury, the newspaper reported.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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