A stunned grandparent in Newtown, Connecticut, has described the moment he found six small children sat on his driveway after they miraculously survived the Sandy Hook gun massacre.
Gene Rosen, 69, spotted the six elementary school pupils sat in a neat semi-circle at the end of his driveway at 9.30am on Friday, minutes after Adam Lanza had gunned down 20 pupils and six adults.
The retired psychologist revealed how the schoolchildren, who had just escaped the gunman, told him: "We can't go back to school. Our teacher is dead. Mrs Soto; we don't have a teacher."
Their teacher, Victoria Soto, 27, had reportedly hid her students from the approaching gunman. The six youngsters who escaped then had to apparently run past her body to safety.
Mr Rosen, who lives near to Sandy Hook Elementary, took the four boys and two girls into his home, looking after them and phoning their frantic parents.
He said he had heard the staccato sound of gunfire about 15 minutes earlier, but dismissed it as an obnoxious hunter in the nearby woods.
"I had no idea what had happened," Mr Rosen said. "I couldn't take that in."
"They said he had a big gun and a little gun," said Mr Rosen, who did not want to discuss other details the children shared.
He called the children's parents, using mobile phone numbers obtained from the school bus company, and they came and retrieved their children.
One little girl, he said, spent the entire ordeal clutching a small stuffed dalmatian to her chest and staring out the window looking for her mother.
But one little boy brought them all a moment of levity.
"This little boy turns around, and composes himself, and he looks at me like he had just removed himself from the carnage and he says, 'Just saying, your house is very small'," Mr Rosen said. "I wanted to tell him, 'I love you. I love you'."
Mr Rosen said Sandy Hook had always been a place of joy for him. He taught his eight-year-old grandson to ride his bike in the school car park and took his four-year-old granddaughter to use the swings.
"I thought today how life has changed, how that ground has been marred, how that school has been desecrated," he said.
He said it was not his training as a psychologist that helped him that day, but being a grandparent.
A couple of hours after the last child left, a knock came on his door.
"It was a frantic mother who had heard that some children had taken refuge there. She was looking for her little boy.
"Her face looked frozen in terror," Mr Rosen said, breaking down in tears.
"She thought maybe a miracle from God would have the child at my house." Later, "I looked at the casualty list ... and his name was on it."