Why did the Android icon suddenly appear and say, "Erasing, erasing, erasing?"

How it started: I had a question about an app I was trying out on my Samsung Galaxy Core Prime and was asked to send a screenshot illustrating my question. I didn't know how to do a screenshot (I'm over 60 and never had a smartphone until last August) so looked for information on the internet, found two different ways to do it, tried one (pressing the power button slightly before the "home" button and then holding down both buttons until the screenshot is taken).

What happened: All of a sudden I saw the Android icon on the screen with an "erasing, erasing" message. I wasn't asked for confirmation that I wanted to erase anything and was horrified.

What I've been told: The first Samsung support person I contacted said that accidentally pushing the volume button at the same time could have caused the erasure. Is this true? (I don't know that this is what happened.) Later a different Samsung support person at a higher level to whom I'd sent email wrote a very informative reply and said they have no records of an instance when pushing the volume button while holding down the other two buttons caused everything on the phone to be erased. She/he said that files probably were moved around to different locations but not erased. Does anyone know anything about this?

The next big problem: I haven't been able to check if anything (photos, contacts, messages, etc.) is left on my phone because I don't remember the password for the gmail address that Verizon set up as my account ID on the phone when I bought it. Another Samsung support person helped me in every way he could think of, but nothing worked.

Then Google locked me out because I'd tried too many times (using my laptop) to open the gmail that is also my phone user ID. I've waited nearly 36 hours, way more than the required 24 hours, before trying again, but now I can't even get the Account Recovery Form to come up. I'm in an endless loop of "I forgot my password, enter a gmail address, what's the problem, I forgot my password, etc."

I have two other gmail accounts that I can access but can't figure out if or how I might use them to access the gmail account that is locking my phone. If I have any photos left on the phone, I don't want to do a factory reset that certainly will wipe out anything that still might be on it. Verizon said that the factory reset is the only thing they can do. Any suggestions about what I might try next?

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