Newtown 911 Tapes Show Calm Dispatchers and Staff

Dec 4, 2013

Credit Jarrod Erbe / iStock / Thinkstock

Recordings of 911 calls from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting show town dispatchers calmly responding to a janitor a teacher and others and assuring them help is coming. Official release was planned for 2:00 pm Wednesday, but the calls to police were posted earlier Wednesday on a town website.

On the tapes, operators urge the people inside the school to take cover as they reach out to town officials and state police for help. The operators also ask about the welfare of the children.

Janitor Rick Thorne, credited in police reports with warning teachers to lock doors and using a master key to lock more, is heard describing the scene to dispatchers.

Thorne: Everything’s locked up as far as I know I’m not in the front.

911: You’re in lockdown?

Thorne: Yeah they’re in lockdown.

911: Did you see anything out the window?

Thorne: No it’s still going on. I can’t get over there.

911: ok I don't want you to go over there. I want to know what’s going on with the students along the front corridor, so this is in the front parking lot?

Thorne: Yes, I’m not in the front. I’m actually down in the other part. But I’m close. 911:ok do you see anything or hear anything more?

Thorne: I keep hearing shooting. I keep hearing popping.

In another exchange, a female teacher describes gunshots, and the dispatcher asks her to lock the door and get the children away from the window. 

W: It sounds like there are gunshots in the hallway. I’m a teacher in the school.

911: ok, are you in the school right now?

W: I am in the school. I’m in a classroom.

911: Ok do you have everyone in the classroom and the doors locked?

W: All of my students, the door is not locked yet. I have to… (talking over each other)

911: Keep everybody calm, keep everybody down, get everybody away from the windows ok?

W: Yes, ok.

911: Where are you in the school?

W: I am in the hallway, when you walk in the front entrance if you take a left.

911: ok. just try to lock down the school ok?

W: We’re trying, ok.

911: Alright, bye bye.

Adam Lanza shot his way into the school on the morning of Dec. 14 and killed 20 children and six educators with a semi-automatic rifle. He committed suicide as police arrived.

A court ordered the release of the tapes last week after a legal challenge by The Associated Press, despite the protests of prosecutors. 

Note: This story includes reporting by the AP.