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On Newtown 911 Calls, Pleas For Help

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By Dave Altimari, Hartford Courant

Calls from a school secretary and janitor describing gunshots and pleading for help were among the 911 calls involving the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting released Wednesday.

The calls were scheduled to be released at 2 p.m. but some were briefly posted to a town of Newtown website, the New Haven Register reported. The newspaper posted the calls to its website.

The first call came from the secretary in the central office. In the 24-second call secretary Barbara Halstead says “I think there’s somebody shooting in here in Sandy Hook School.”

The dispatcher replies “Why do you think that?”

“Somebody’s got a gun I saw a glimpse of somebody running down the hallway, they’re still around me there’s still shooting. Sandy Hook please,” Halstead said.

Her call at 9:35:39 a.m. was the first of seven that Newtown dispatchers received after Adam Lanza shot his way into the school. There were calls from teachers locked in their classrooms and from janitor Rick Thorne.

Thorne remained on the phone with dispatchers for several minutes, giving them a layout of the school. On at least one occasion as Thorne tells them the shooting is still going on gunshots can be heard.

Thorne tells the dispatcher the students are in lockdown.

“All good. Everything is locked up as far as I know,” Thorne said.

When the dispatcher asks if he saw anything out the window Thorne replies “no it’s still going on I can’t get over there..”

At one point Thorne tells the dispatcher “now it is silent” but the shooting starts again. Thorne stayed on the line with the dispatcher until Newtown police temporarily detained him once they entered the building. was eventually.

The 911 tapes were released Wednesday after a Superior Court judge denied an attmept by Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedesnky to keep them sealed.

Sedensky dropped his fight to keep then secret earlier this week. Sedensky decided not to appeal a Superior Court judge’s ruling from last week that the calls should be made public.

Sedensky had gone to court in an attempt to delay implementation of a Freedom of Information Commission ruling that the tapes be made public. Judge Eliot Prescott denied Sedensky’s request, dismissing his argument that the shooting in which 20 first graders and six adults were killed was a case of child abuse and that the calls were the equivalent of signed witness statements.

There also were numerous 911 calls made to Troop L in Litchfield, which received the cell phone calls from, among others, a teacher who was shot in the foot and a parent locked in the room where Principal Dawn Hochsprung had been holding a meeting when Lanza shot his way through a glass window at the front entrance.

Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Scherlach ran out of the room and were the first two killed by Lanza. A third school official Natalie Hammond was injured during that initial burst of gunfire, but she managed to crawl back into the room and close the door. The unidentified parent then called 911 and told state police dispatchers the shooter was right outside the door.

Those calls are the custody of the state police and are not among the ones that will be released by Newtown officials.

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