The first voice on the released emergency calls from Sandy Hook Elementary School lasts only 24 seconds. It’s a female voice on the calling. There is a quiver in the voice. Very little details are given. After that call comes a deluge of calls in the police department in Newtown, Connecticut. They are all reporting different versions of one nightmare they would never forget. There was a shooter inside the school.
Another call was a teacher. Her voice was incredibly calm as she described gunshots outside her classroom where she was with her students.
A janitor stayed on the line with law enforcement personnel for most of the time the shooting was taking place. As he was talking, he was trying to make sure that the building was locked down.
Another woman was actually a victim. She had been shot in the foot and was advising the 911 operator as to her location. The operator assured her that help would be arriving at Sandy Hook shortly.
These emergency calls all came on December 14, 2012 from Sandy Hook Elementary School when six staff members and 20 first-graders were killed by Adam Lanza. The recordings were released Wednesday afternoon, just over a week after the report of the Connecticut State Police investigation on the incident was released.
The report gave a very detailed account of what actually happened inside the school building that morning. As the anniversary of the shooting nears, the report and the release of the phone calls have caused many to relive in their minds the events of that horrible day.
Connecticut state attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III worked diligently to keep the tapes of the calls private while the Associated Press was petitioning for their release. He argued that releasing those tapes to the public would impede the investigation and serve to intimidate possible witnesses.
Judge Eliot Prescott of the New Britain Superior Court listened to the tapes of the calls and agreed with a ruling issued earlier by the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission that said there was no basis legally to keep them private. Prescott said no names of children were heard on the recordings and no tapes gave any eyewitness accounts of a child being hurt. Nevertheless, he did acknowledge the calls were still quiet disturbing.
Not long after Lanza entered the building, by shattering a plate glass window at the front of the building, Dawn Hochsprung, school principal, and Mary Sherlach, school psychologist, excused themselves from a meeting to investigate the commotion they were hearing. Upon entering the hallway, both were shot and killed.
No less than four minutes after the first 911 call, the first of many law enforcement officers arrived. One minute later, the shooter committed suicide. The recordings released Wednesday include calls made from both inside and outside the school.
In the calls, operators can be heard trying to keep callers calm while dispatching law enforcement personnel to the scene.
The calls made public were not the only calls made regarding the Sandy Hook incident that day. There are also audio recordings of calls made to state police operators from cellphones that were not made public.
John Reed, School Superintendent, had sent an email to parents on Tuesday to warn them of the release of the recordings. He told them that the release of the Sandy Hook emergency calls could trigger some emotions for their children.
By Rick Hope