NewsNational News


HOLMBERG: Sandy Hook shooting 911 calls – no need to listen

Posted at 12:01 AM, Dec 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-05 00:17:47-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) --A year ago Dec. 14, a deranged teen shot his mother to death then killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., then shot himself the death.

The reverberations from that mindless rampage continued Wednesday, with the controversial release of 911 calls for help from the school as the tragedy unfolded.

CBS News there was among many news outlets filing Freedom of Information requests for the recordings. We frequently do that, not only to get a glimpse inside tragedies like that one, but also to check on the accuracy of witness and police reports and to monitor the reaction of emergency responders.

For example, a prosecutor’s report last week revealed local officers responding to the calls for help got there within four minutes of the first 911 call, but it took six more minutes before they rushed into the building, according to published reports. The delay, which was caused by concerns about a potential second shooter, apparently didn’t make a difference in terms of the threat because the shooter killed himself about a minute after the first officer arrived, according to the prosecutor’s report.

The 911 tape released Wednesday don’t really shine any new light, other than the apparent delay getting through to the state police.

Dispatchers handled the situation calmly, it appears, as did most of the primary callers – the head custodian and a teacher. There are a few moments of panic and fear, but surprisingly few.

Listening to the 911 calls, there’s no real indication of the scope of the disaster; that more than two dozen people – most of them children - -had been fatally shot while the calls were being taken, or just moments earlier.

It’s almost like these recordings are more about what wasn’t said and heard than what was.

Click here to listen to the recordings.

They are far less graphic and troubling than the Columbine High School 911 call from a teacher filled the sounds of shots and distant screams, or the haunting, pleading calls for help from those who were about to die in the Twin Towers on 9/11..

There was tremendous debate and pushback about the release of these Sandy Hook recordings.

That’s a healthy discussion, completely understandable.

This shooting was so extreme, it jarred the mind just hearing about it, let alone listening long minutes of that recorded reality.

It was a sad day for this nation, and the world, really. Listening to these recordings doesn’t make it an better - or any worse, in my opinion.

It is a reminder of what happened, and the fact that there are no guarantees in this life – that it could end at any day.

Virtually every religion and philosophy agrees on this point: that we should live our lives accordingly.

RELATED: Newtown school shooting 911 calls released