The first hints of what was unfolding at Sandy Hook Elementary School came as bursts of static across police radios.
In a series of calls placed to dispatchers in Newtown, Conn., first responders to a 911 call pieced together shreds of information about a gunman inside the elementary school.
Law enforcement and families would soon learn that the gunman, later identified by sources as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, shot and killed 26 people, including 20 schoolchildren. Then he shot himself.
“6-7, Sandy Hook School,” a dispatcher said at the beginning of the call. “The caller is indicating she thinks there is someone shooting in the building … all units, the individual I have on the phone is continuing to hear what he believes to be gunshots.”
Sources said Lanza killed his mother at home, then drove her Honda to Sandy Hook Elementary School, carrying firearms that were registered to one or both of his divorced parents. He wore military fatigues and carried two handguns -- a Glock 9-millimeter and a Sig Sauer semiautomatic. He left a Bushmaster .223 rifle on the car’s back seat.
The gunman forced his way into the school, State Police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance told reporters Saturday. He argued with someone in the hallway before opening fire on staff members and children just after 9:30 a.m., a law enforcement source told The Times. He concentrated his gunfire on two classrooms, where children huddled in closets and corners.
Most of the victims were said to be between 5 and 10 years old.
The radio began to buzz with static and the sound of phones ringing in the background of the dispatch office as police and firefighters from different areas began to arrive at Sandy Hook. It was not immediately clear whether the gunman was still in the building when law enforcement arrived.
“Coming at me -- downstairs wing,” one responder said, his words tumbling out in a rush of static. “Come up the driveway, left stairway.”
One responder hid behind a Dumpster on the school grounds. Another said he was on the southeast side of the school.
“Be advised,” one responder said over the radio. “We should have multiple weapons, including one rifle and shotguns.”
“The last known gunshots were in the front of the building,” another said.
Inside, a teacher and several students, including some victims, hid inside a closet in the kitchen, a dispatcher said.
The phrase “medical emergency” crackled through the radio multiple times as other responders headed to a staging area for law enforcement and EMTs.
“Newtown Hook and Ladder,” one said. “Sandy Hook School. Medical emergencies.”
“What is the number of ambulances you will require?” a dispatcher asked.
“They don’t know,” a woman responded. “They’re not giving us a number.”
About a minute later, a responder said, “The scene is not active -- not active at this time. Reduce your speed, but continue. No need for further response.”
Then the tape ends.
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