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At 9:30 a.m. ET on Friday, Gene Rosen found a group of children in tears at the end of his driveway after they fled the class where moments earlier their teacher and fellow students had been killed.
Not knowing what was happening at the school, Rosen, a retired psychologist who lives near Sandy Hook Elementary School, took the four girls and two boys into his home, and listened to how they had just run from the their classroom to escape a gunman.
"I approached the kids and I saw something had happened. They were crying. They were all crying, these kids," Rosen, 69, said.
That's when he heard the unthinkable.
"We can't go back to school," one little boy told Rosen. "Our teacher is dead. Mrs. Soto … we don't have a teacher."
He credited his grandchildren -- not his profession -- for helping him deal with the situation and keep the kids calm.
Victoria Soto, 27, was a first-grade teacher killed when 20-year-old Adam Lanza burst into her classroom.
"They start talking about blood, and then they start talking about the two guns," said Rosen.
Over the next few hours gave them toys and fed them snacks.
Funeral directors from throughout Connecticut have come forward to help the grieving town, another example of support that's so desperately needed. NBC's Anne Thompson reports.
He said he had heard the staccato sound of gunfire about 15 minutes earlier but had dismissed it as an obnoxious hunter in the nearby woods.
Rosen said he called the kids' parents, who quickly picked them up.
As a community mourns those who were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting on Friday, children and parents come to terms with the tragedy. NBC's Michelle Franzen reports.
Mom comes looking for son
Moments later, he got an emotional visit from a mother looking for her son.
"She said, 'Is my boy here?' Then said the boy's name... he was a casualty,” Rosen said.
Still reeling, Rosen hoped everyone could learn from the children who lived through the events of last Friday.
"I want these children's goodness, their absolute goodness, to point us in the right direction,” he said.