Updated 5:09 pm
Newly released recordings of frantic 911 calls made during last year’s massacre at a Connecticut elementary school reveal that emergency dispatchers reacted quickly and calmly to the reports of mayhem.
In the recordings of 911 calls from Sandy Hook Elementary School, people in the school describe the chaos and plead for help as Adam Lanza, the shooter who killed himself after the bloodbath, proceeds to stalk the halls, according to the Associated Press and other news outlets. The recordings were made public Wednesday after the Associated Press fought Newtown, Conn., for their release.
“I caught a glimpse of somebody,” one woman told an emergency dispatcher, according to the AP. “They’re running down the hallway. Oh, they’re still running and still shooting. Sandy Hook school, please.”
Lanza killed 20 children and 6 adults before turning the gun on himself. Dispatchers taking calls from the school told callers to take cover and inquired about the safety of students, the AP reports.
“Keep everybody calm, keep everybody down, get everybody away from windows, OK,” one dispatcher said.
The recordings almost weren’t released. Many families of the victims argued that releasing them would cause unnecessary anguish to a community struggling to move on from the massacre. The AP sought their release under the Freedom of Information Act, and supporters of disclosure argued it was necessary to assess the performance of first responders. The state’s Freedom of Information Panel ordered the release of the tapes on Sept. 25, and a state prosecutor said Monday he was giving up the fight to keep them under wraps.
The recordings were posted online Wednesday afternoon.
Pat Llodra, Newtown’s top elected official, posted a statement on her blog pleading with the media to be respectful of families as more information comes out.
“Imagine yourself as a parent of a child who was killed, or a family member of one of the six educators,” she said. “Imagine yourself as a teacher or staff member in that building desperate to save the lives of children. Imagine you are the parent of a child who was able to escape. Then ask yourself, media person, what is the public good and how do I balance that against the hurt?”
This story was updated to reflect that the 911 recordings have been released and posted online.