As anxious parents waited on a freezing grey day outside Dunblane primary on Wednesday, the full horror of the tragedy gripping this quiet cathedral city was etched on every face.
One mother, emerging from the school gates, clutched her two daughters and burst into tears when she saw her husband. As Kathleen Duboulay embraced daughters Jessica and Julie, her husband Barry said the children had not been told what had happened.
"They think there has been an accident in the kitchen," Mr Duboulay said.
Mrs Duboulay spoke of Gwenne Mayor, the dead teacher. "She was a lovely woman. Julie was in her class last year. I can't believe what has happened. I just want to get my children home."
Steven Hopper, an 11-year-old who was in a temporary classroom next to the gym, said: "We heard shots being fired, about 10 of them coming from the gym. They were fired one by one, with a second or so between each shot.
"Then I saw a man come out through the fire exit of the gym. He was wearing a hat and earmuffs and carrying a gun. An air-rifle, I think. I didn't recognise him. Then he stood in the playground and began firing at our hut. About three or four shots came through our windows. There was flying glass everywhere and the girls were crying. But we were trying to be quiet, hoping he wouldn't know we were there.
"He then ran along by the main hall. I don't know if he went into the school again. It was frightening. We threw ourselves on to the floor and under the tables lying on our stomachs and backs."
Steven said some children were hurt by flying glass. He described how a teacher spoke to a colleague in a neighbouring hut and then moved the children to a safer classroom where they were kept for about four hours.
Some parents said they had waited for hours while children were released class by class. Many were unable to get through on the emergency telephone line and some had gone straight to Stirling Royal Infirmary.
Hospital staff asked for the parents' names and told them whether their children were among the dead.