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Sandy Hook 911 callers seek help

Police dispatchers last December urged callers inside Sandy Hook Elementary School to take cover.
A Connecticut State Police Officers stand outside the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company near Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut Dec. 14, 2012.
A Connecticut State Police Officers stand outside the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company near Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut Dec. 14, 2012.

“Newtown 911, what’s the location of your emergency?”

Dispatchers calmly asked callers, whose shaky responses included variations of "12 Dickinson Drive" and "Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown." The responders suggested that callers inside the school take cover.

"Sandy Hook School. I think there's somebody shooting in here. Sandy Hook School. Somebody's got a gun. I saw a glimpse of somebody and they were running down the hallway...Sandy Hook School, please," a woman caller said with increasing urgency.

On another call, a custodian inside the school told 911 that he was hearing shots, and that the front glass doorway had been shattered. 

Minutes later, with gunshot sounds audible in the background, he said the shooting was still going on.

The Newtown Police Department released almost 20 minutes of emergency call recordings on Wednesday under a court order nearly a year after a gunman killed 20 students and six educators inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. The Associated Press legally filed for access earlier this year, and recently won.

Several callers confirmed the school was on lock-down, and students remained inside the classrooms.

A woman teacher reported hearing gunshots in the hallway, adding that she was inside a classroom with her students. She said the door was not yet locked and that she would go to lock it.

Officials revealed multiple calls placed to local police, mostly from inside the school, during the morning of Dec. 14, 2012. The files did not include audio from state dispatchers.

The release creates "a new layer of pain for many in the Newtown community," Town Selectman Pat Llodra wrote Wednesday on her public blog.

"Imagine yourself as a parent of a child who was killed, or a family member of one of the six educators. Imagine yourself as a teacher or staff member in that building desperate to save the lives of children. Imagine you are the parent of a child who was able to escape," she wrote, cautioning the media to recognize the communal pain in the decision.

Neither MSNBC nor NBC will air or post to the Internet audio of the 911 calls.

Police typically release recordings of emergency calls, but officials sought to keep the Newtown files secret to avoid harming the investigation, which prompted the AP's legal request.

There was "no conclusive motive," nor an indication to a reason gunman Adam Lanza chose Sandy Hook Elementary School as his target, according to a report published last week.

Lanza also shot his mother, Nancy, before ultimately driving to the school on that morning.

Students have attended Chalk Hill Middle School in nearby Monroe since returning to school after last year's tragedy. Construction crews last month began bulldozing the Sandy Hook building after the town recently voted to rebuild on the same campus. A new school will not stand where the massacre occurred.

Many victims' family members have advocated for the implementation of gun-safety measures in the wake of the shooting. They establish initiatives, visit Capitol Hill, and appear in the media.

Different individuals--including students, a bus driver, restaurant diners, and a man in his office--pause for a moment of silence as a clock ticks in the background throughout a video to commemmorate the one-year mark of the tragedy in Newtown. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns recently co-produced the video, titled "Stop the Silence," to honor the town and the 26 school shootings that have occurred since Dec. 14.

"Ask yourself," the narrator says as a person carrying a bag walks inside a building. "Is silence what America needs right now?"