There's been a lot of talk about the fearless heroics of the female teachers of Sandy Hook, as well as the female school principal who was shot by Adam Lanza as he first entered the building. This seems to have given rise to the wrong-headed and mistaken impression that there were no men in the school that day -- and perhaps if there were, things might have been different. In actuality, there were men in the school that day, though the exact demographic make-up of the staff hasn't been released (and is irrelevant anyway). But one of the male teachers, Ted Varga, is now being hailed as a hero too.
Varga, 25, is a fourth-grade teacher at Sandy Hook. That day, he was chatting with some colleagues, including principal Dawn Hochsprung, in a conference room when he heard shooting, stuck his head out the door, and "tasted" smoke. (Hochsprung had left a few minutes before and would encounter Lanza when he entered.)
Varga tried to lock the door to the conference room, but it wouldn't lock. So he managed to run down the smoke-filled hallway and out a fire escape exit. But realizing that there were still people inside, he made the brave decision to return to help. He says:
If we didn’t leave when we did, we would have all died. There certainly weren’t enough places for all of us to have hidden. We would have all been gunned down.
Varga ran back to the conference room he'd just escaped from and helped dislodge a wooden board on one of the windows. He and three teachers in the room then escaped through a window. Varga told the Daily News:
You hear screams and gunshots, but it is still surreal. This is an elementary school. I heard someone say, "Oh my God." And then you hear shot after shot after shot.
Varga also talks about another man in the school -- a male janitor who ran through the hallways warning everyone to stay down and telling them what was happening. "He was actually a hero," Varga said.
Varga could have stayed outside and run like hell. But he chose to go back and help his colleagues. I can't imagine the terror and confusion he was feeling, and yet he felt compelled to go back in and face the monster and risk his own life.
The idea that sexual politics -- how many men there were, how many women, who could have done what, who could have saved whom -- has a role in the shooting is absolutely shameful and absurd. There is no such thing as a feminized mass killing. In fact, given that most serial killers are men, I'd say it's more of a male problem than a female one, if you want to bring sexual politics into it.
Did you know there were also men in Sandy Hook?
Image via ABC News