NEWTOWN, Conn. - Emergency dispatchers at the Newtown Police Department warned a panicked teacher to protect herself and her students, urged another staffer to apply pressure to a gunshot wound to her leg and told the school custodian to take cover as the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre unfolded.
The advice came via 911 exchanges between school staffers and dispatchers minutes after gunman Adam Lanza began shooting inside the school. He would kill 20 students and six staffers with a semiautomatic assault rifle before taking his own life. Earlier that day, Lanza, 20, shot his mother, Nancy, at their Newtown home.
Tapes of the 911 calls were released Wednesday afternoon, nearly a year after the Dec.14 massacre rocked this genteel community. Officials said they would not release the names of the dispatchers, whose response to an incoming flood of fear-ridden calls was calm, deliberate and reassuring even as gunshots are audible in the background.
On the tapes, custodian Rick Thorne tells dispatchers that he "keeps hearing popping noises'' before he's warned to take cover. On another call, an unidentified teacher says "it sounds like there are gunshots in the hallway" before she goes to lock the door to her classroom.
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