The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Breaking news

December 4, 2013

911 calls show anguish and tension in Conn. school

Newtown police officers arrived at the school within four minutes of the first 911 call, but entered six minutes later

(Continued)

"It's important to remember, though, that 911 tapes, like other police documents, are public records. Reviewing them is a part of normal newsgathering in a responsible news organization."

Christina Hassinger, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, praised the efforts of Thorne and the teachers who protected their students.

"The ability of the Sandy Hook teachers to keep calm in order to reassure their students during the most frightening time of their young lives was amazing. My mom would be proud," Hassinger said.

Teresa Rousseau, whose daughter Lauren was among the six educators killed, said she hadn't listened to the tapes: "The way we keep our sanity is to start ignoring this stuff."

Rousseau, an editor at the Danbury News-Times, said there was no need to play the tapes on the radio or television.

"I think there's a big difference between secrecy and privacy," she said. "We have these laws so government isn't secret, not so we're invading victims' privacy."

On the day of the shooting, the AP requested 911 calls and police reports, as it and other news organizations routinely do in their newsgathering.

The prosecutor in charge of the Newtown investigation, State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III, argued that releasing the tapes could cause pain for the victims' families, hurt the investigation, subject witnesses to harassment and violate the rights of survivors who deserve special protection as victims of child abuse.

A state judge dismissed those arguments last week.

Releasing the recordings will "allow the public to consider and weigh what improvements, if any, should be made to law enforcement's response to such incidents," Superior Court Judge Eliot Prescott said.

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Gillum reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Pat Eaton-Robb in Hartford and John Christoffersen in New Haven also contributed to this report.

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