911 calls show anguish and tension in Conn. school

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Within 11 minutes of entering the school, Lanza had fatally shot 20 children and six educators with a semi-automatic rifle.  Lanza also killed his mother in their Newtown home before driving to the school. He committed suicide as police closed in.

Newtown police officers arrived at the school within four minutes of the first 911 call, but nearly six more minutes passed before they entered the building while they sorted out concerns over a possible second shooter, according to a prosecutor’s report issued last week.

It’s not clear whether the delay made a difference because Lanza killed himself one minute after the first officer arrived on the scene, according to the report.

In one of the recordings released Wednesday, dispatchers were heard making three calls to Connecticut state police that apparently rang unanswered.

But state police had already been dispatched to the school by the time those calls were made, according to a timeline and call log supplied by Newtown officials.

In all, seven recordings of landline calls from inside the school to Newtown police were posted Wednesday. Calls that were routed to state police are the subject of a separate, pending freedom of information request by the AP.

“We all understand why some people have strong feelings about the release of these tapes. This was a horrible crime,” said Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor and senior vice president.

“It’s important to remember, though, that 911 tapes, like other police documents, are public records. Reviewing them is a part of normal newsgathering in a responsible news organization.”

Christina Hassinger, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, praised the efforts of Thorne and the teachers who protected their students.

“The ability of the Sandy Hook teachers to keep calm in order to reassure their students during the most frightening time of their young lives was amazing. My mom would be proud,” Hassinger said.

Teresa Rousseau, whose daughter Lauren was among the six educators killed, said she hadn’t listened to the tapes: “The way we keep our sanity is to start ignoring this stuff.”

Rousseau, an editor at the Danbury News-Times, said there was no need to play the tapes on the radio or television.

“I think there’s a big difference between secrecy and privacy,” she said. “We have these laws so government isn’t secret, not so we’re invading victims’ privacy.”

On the day of the shooting, the AP requested 911 calls and police reports, as it and other news organizations routinely do in their newsgathering.

The prosecutor in charge of the Newtown investigation, State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III, argued that releasing the tapes could cause pain for the victims’ families, hurt the investigation, subject witnesses to harassment and violate the rights of survivors who deserve special protection as victims of child abuse.

A state judge dismissed those arguments last week.

Releasing the recordings will “allow the public to consider and weigh what improvements, if any, should be made to law enforcement’s response to such incidents,” Superior Court Judge Eliot Prescott said.

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Gillum reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Pat Eaton-Robb in Hartford and John Christoffersen in New Haven also contributed to this report.

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