Recordings of the Emergency 911 telephone calls received by Newtown police from people at Sandy Hook School on the morning of December 14, 2012, reflect tension and fear in the callers’ voices as they urged police to rapidly respond to 12 Dickinson Drive to help them during Adam Lanza’s attack on the school.
The town released the 911 recordings on Wednesday after blocking their disclosure for nearly one year due to privacy concerns.
On November 26, a judge ruled that that the town must disclose the recordings, as had been ordered by the state Freedom of Information Commission in September.
The first 911 call received at the Newtown Emergency Communications Center came in at 9:35:39 am. In it, a fraught woman tells a dispatcher that she believes someone is shooting a firearm within the school in urging police to send help.
Within four minutes, police started arriving at the school, and about a minute later, Adam Lanza killed himself.
At 9:36:13 am, a custodian’s 911 call is received. He tells the dispatcher that shooting is under way. A male dispatcher urges the man to take cover. The dispatcher also urges a sergeant to send as many police as possible to the school.
The custodian informs the dispatcher that the shooter has shot out a glass panel at the front of the school to gain entry to the building.
“I keep hearing shooting. I keep hearing popping,” the custodian says anxiously.
When asked, the custodian tells the dispatcher that he is not aware of any injuries caused by the attack.
Another caller who reaches another dispatcher by telephone reports that she is a teacher in a classroom where the door to the hallway is not locked.
Through yet another call, the dispatchers learn that a woman has been shot in the foot and that she is in a room with two other adults.
The dispatcher urges that the woman keep pressure on the wound until help arrives.
Also, in one call a dispatcher is heard alerting state police of the shooting incident.
Later, a dispatcher informs a caller in the school that police have arrived there.
“We are in the middle of multiple calls,” the dispatchers says, noting the volume of 911 calls coming into the local dispatchers.
The communications center received several calls from third parties who had been informed of the incident by people who had called them from within the school.
At one point, the custodian in the school tells a dispatcher that he is hearing voices in the building, in apparent reference to police who had entered the school.
In a statement on the release of the 911 calls, First Selectman Pat Llodra said, in part, “The release of the [recordings] will create a new layer of pain for many in the Newtown community.
“Hearing those calls takes us back to a day of horror and tragedy,” she said.
“My plea is for the media to treat us kindly ... to recognize that there is great personal pain in this event and little public good to be garnered through the general release,” she added.