Newtown Bee via EPA file
A Connecticut State Police officer runs with a shotgun following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Police radio traffic from the Newtown school shooting shows emergency responders initially thought there might be two gunmen on the loose and were not aware of the extent of the carnage inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.
But the scope of the tragedy became more evident minute by minute, until authorities at the scene were heard asking for more help: “Call for everything” and “Do you know if anyone brought a mass casualty kit?”
Then, an hour after the first call, the horror of the crime was laid bare as an officer at the scene spoke of “victims” in a closet.
“There’s a teacher and 18 kids there,” he said in a grim voice.
The communications were not officially released, but were posted on YouTube by a scanner monitor and authenticated by police.
Some of the dialogue is encrypted or garbled, but the transmissions that can be heard – with the sound of sirens blaring in the background — provide a glimpse of how Friday’s massacre unfolded through the eyes of police and paramedics.
The recordings begin at 9:35 a.m. with a dispatcher calmly reporting a 911 call about “somebody shooting in the building,” followed two minutes later by the chilling update that a caller was “continuing to hear what he believes to be gunfire.”
One dispatcher notifies responding officers that a teacher reported seeing “two shooters, running past the gym.”
“Make sure you have your vests on,” a voice cautions officers in the early minutes.
There was, of course, just one gunman, as authorities later learned – Adam Lanza, 20, who used a rifle to kill 20 children ages 6 and 7 and six school staffers before committing suicide.
A nation mourns after the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history at Sandy Hook Elementary, which left 20 children and six staff members dead.
The radio transmissions suggest police and paramedics had no idea of the scope of the tragedy as they raced toward Sandy Hook.
“I will need two ambulances,” one dispatcher says five minutes after the initial report.
Three minutes later came the first hint of casualties, a person in Room 1 with a “wound to a foot.”
Another three minutes and dispatchers got their first sign the toll could grow: “We’ve got an injured person in room Number 9 with numerous gunshot wounds.”
At 9:49 a.m., an officer described what may have been Lanza shooting himself with one of his handguns as cops swarmed the building.
“Shots were fired about three minutes ago,” the officer said. “Quiet at the time.”
Four minutes later came word that Lanza was dead.
“One suspect down. The building has now been cleared,” a voice said. Then, a cataloguing of Lanza’s arsenal: “Multiple weapons, including one rifle and handguns.”
It had been a half hour since the killer blasted his way into the hilltop school that housed 600 students in kindergarten through fourth grade.
There had been no mention on open channels of how many people had died. But at 10 a.m., there was a frantic call, in police lingo, for ambulances.
“We need buses here. ASAP,” said someone at the scene.
“Send the ambulance right up to me … Get the bus! Get the bus!”
Moments later, came this advisory: “You might want to see if the surrounding towns can send EMS personnel. We’re running out real quick.”
Another minute and it was becoming clear that Newtown was dealing with a tragedy of unprecedented proportions.
“Call for everything,” said the voice on the radio.
That gave way to radio chatter about logistics – the creation of a triage center and staging area where panicked parents could be reunited with children who survived.
There was talk of four children who had fled the campus after the shooting and were being brought back as police tried to account for every student.
Then came the horrifying revelation about victims in a closet, and a directive that suggested police were not expecting to find many survivors among the victims:
“Hold all other ambulances.”
Daniel Barden, 7, had said he wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up. NBC's Brian Williams reports.
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