Seven Newtown police officers, who were the first responders to the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, have spoken out to the press for the first time since that horrific day. Read the emotional words they kept repeating to comfort the shaken little kids.
“We drove as fast as we’ve ever driven,” Newtown police officer Michael McGowan told the New York Times. McGowan and fellow officer William Chapman made the two-mile drive from their station to Sandy Hook Elementary School in under three minutes. They weren’t prepared for what they, and five other officers, were about to witness that would change their lives forever.
Newtown Police: Shocking Details From Inside Sandy Hook
The officers say they could still hear the popping of gunshots as they walked inside the school. The horror that they came upon was unimaginable.
The first thing they saw were the bodies of head teacher Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach on the floor of the school’s lobby. The policemen continued to follow the wall-shaking sound of gunfire. “It was up so close, it sounded like it was coming from outside,” Chapman says, “So we were all looking around for someone to shoot back at.” Officer Chapman walked into a classroom to find Adam Lanza, the shooter, dead on the floor from a self-inflicted gunshot.
With the shooter identified and dead, the Newtown policemen took action trying to find and save as many living children and adults as possible. In that same classroom, Chapman found a little girl with a faint pulse. He picked her up in his arms and rushed her to an ambulance, telling her repeatedly, “You’re safe now. Your parents love you.” The girl reportedly died soon after.
Elsewhere, Officer Leonard Penna entered the classroom where Lanza had done most of his shooting. Amidst the horror, he found a girl, standing alone, covered in blood, but relatively unharmed. He led her to safety.
How The Policemen Handled The Shooting At Sandy Hook
Some of the most trying moments came in handling the chaos. Teachers, attempting to protect their students, repeatedly refused to open their classroom doors until the police produced badges. “We were kicking the doors, yelling ‘Police! Police!'” McGowan said. Managing the trauma was paramount for these seven officers, holding survivors’ hands, closing their eyes, and reassuring them, saying, “Everything is fine now. Everything is fine now.”
The Newtown officers also took great measures to ensure that the Sandy Hook survivors did not have to see their slain classmates and teachers as their bodies were removed from the school.
Newtown Police Officers: American Heroes
Several of the first responders have admitted that they are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. One has not gone back to work. “Words cannot describe how horrible it was,” 27-year-old Detective Joe Joudy says.
It was a ground-shaking, horrific day — one of the largest school shootings in American history — but at the very least we have brave men like these Newtown police officers to be thankful for. They are true heroes — men who did everything that was in their power — and we recognize their courageous, selfless duty in the face of inconceivable events.
— Andrew Gruttadaro
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