There is also the booming echo of gunshots.
Officials in Newtown, Connecticut, on Wednesday released audio
recordings of emergency 911 phone calls from the Connecticut school
shooting that killed 20 children and six educators almost a year
ago, revealing raw emotion in the voice of the callers.
The audio files may be the final pieces of evidence released about
the tragedy that rocked the United States on December 14, 2012, when
gunman Adam Lanza, 20, shot dead his mother at home and then went to
Sandy Hook Elementary school, where he massacred 26 people before
"They're still running, they're still shooting," pleaded one woman,
sounding increasingly distraught over the course of the 24-second
call. In the final seconds, she grows more insistent, pleading with
the 911 operator for help.
"Sandy Hook school, please!" she said.
With a volley of several gunshots audible in the background, she
Town officials initially tried to prevent the release of the
recordings. The state Freedom of Information Commission ordered
calls placed from inside the elementary school to be aired.
Late last month, a judge ruled the town must comply with the
commission's order, and Newtown officials have since dropped their
appeal. First Selectman Patricia Llodra recently reversed her
long-standing position, saying the tapes should be released in full
in order to prevent partial leaks.
Seven files were released, two of which were identical.
On one, a woman who described herself as a teacher said she was shot
in the foot. The 911 operator instructed her to apply pressure to
"There's children in this room," the teacher said, sighing heavily.
"Are you OK right now?" the 911 operator asks?
"For now, hopefully," the teacher said.
Another caller, custodian Rick Thorne, appeared to play an important
role helping police piece together events early on.
Sounding composed, he told police the gunfire had stopped. Moments
later the silence is broken by more gunshots.
"There's still shooting going on, please," Thorne said, sounding
[to top of second column]
On another call, Thorne is heard identifying himself as a custodian
to officers who had just arrived at the scene. He then replays
information between those officers and the operator, repeating their
questions and answers to each other.
"Victims in the buildings," Thorne said.
"How many" he asked, relaying the question the operator.
"Two down," he responded, repeating the response from the officer.
On Tuesday, Newtown School Superintendent John Reed had emailed
parents to alert them to the recordings' release and warning them
they could serve as an "emotional trigger."
Last week, State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky released a report on
the Newtown massacre that concluded Lanza had acted alone, and that
his motivation for the attack "may never be answered."
Among those who opposed release of the recordings was Kaitlin
Roig-DeBellis, a Sandy Hook first-grade teacher who hid in the
bathroom along with her students during the shootings.
"I don't understand the reasoning for the general public to hear
them," Roig-DeBellis told Reuters, saying the decision should have
rested with the families of the victims and people who were in the
school that day. "The families, they've already experienced such
immeasurable pain and loss and sadness."
The town has intended for the 911 recordings to be the final release
of evidence from the case. Other phone calls and crime scene
photographs exist but have been sealed by state officials
Otherwise, once the December 14 anniversary has passed, the town may
finally get a reprieve from the exhaustive media coverage of the
"Vulture media, you got your tapes," read a hand-painted sign on a
telephone pole in Newtown on Wednesday. "Please leave."
(Additional reporting by Chris Francescani, Elizabeth Dilts and
Curtis Skinner; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Gunna Dickson)