The daughter of the murdered Sandy Hook Elementary school principal who was killed in the shooting is searching for the Good Samaritan who helped her

By Alexia Fernandez
December 15, 2017 09:52 PM
Advertisement

The daughter of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School principal penned an emotional letter to the kind stranger who helped her at a Target after she heard the news of the shooting.

Tina Hassinger remembered her mother, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, on the fifth anniversary of the mass shooting that took the lives of 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut. She also remembered the woman who helped her after she found out about the shooting.

In a Facebook post shared Thursday, Hassinger wrote, “To the woman in the Target parking lot, five years later.”

“It was mid-morning, maybe 10:00. My older boys were at school, and I was shopping with my younger children,” Hassinger began. “Charlie was two years old, Alyson just five months.”

“We were in the dairy aisle, just about ready to check out when my phone rang. It was my sister calling to tell me there’d been a shooting at Sandy Hook, the elementary school where my mom was the principal,” she wrote. “I didn’t know yet that she had been killed.”

• For more about the Sandy Hook anniversary, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands now.

As Hassinger goes on to describe the moment she left the store leaving behind a full cart of things and with her two children, she wondered how she must have seemed to the woman who helped her.

Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung
NEWTOWN BEE/Eliza Hallabeck/AP

“Was I standing still, dazed? Was I frantic? I don’t remember,” Hassinger wrote. “My memory of what happened over the next several hours is patchy. Some details are vividly clear. Other parts I don’t recall at all.”

She described how the woman told her to sit down and remembered telling the stranger about the shooting at her mother’s school.

• Watch the full episode of People Features: Remembering Sandy Hook Elementary — 5 Years Later, streaming now on PeopleTV. Go to People.com/peopletv, or download the app on your favorite streaming device.

Hassinger wrote the woman followed her home to make sure she made it back safely.

“When we got to my house, I don’t think we spoke again,” she wrote. “Did I wave my thanks as you drove off? Or did you wait in your car to watch as we disappeared inside?”

“I don’t remember your face. And I never asked your name. But I remember your kindness, five years later,” she continued. “I’ve recounted the story of your help and concern that day many times. I have remembered your kindness over and over again. My mom used to say, “Be nice to each other. It’s really all that matters.” I don’t know you, but our brief encounter indicates you truly embody that philosophy.”

She added, “Helping a stranger in distress came naturally to you, and I am sincerely grateful for your actions. Your compassion is a bright spot in my memory of that dark day. To the woman in the Target parking lot, I want to say thank you, five years later.”

Since her post, Hassinger has tweeted about the story, asking strangers to help her find the woman whose kindness has stayed with her.

Hochsprung died trying to protect the students she cared for every day. The gunman, identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, started his rampage in the school’s main office, where Hochsprung had reportedly come out of a meeting.