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Some Sandy Hook parents shun 911 tapes

Published 12:41 am, Thursday, December 5, 2013
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NEWTOWN -- For the parents and children, escaping the sounds and stories of the emergency 911 calls made from Sandy Hook Elementary School during the Dec. 14 shooting was a challenge Wednesday.

Andrew Paley, whose twin sons were in fourth grade last year, was in a restaurant in an airport in Pittsburgh, Pa., when a television above him reported that the tapes had been released.

"I literally got up and left," Paley said.

He understands the legalities behind the release, he said, but has no intention of listening to them, or reading the transcripts.

"I have the choice not to listen to them ... the general public has the right to listen to them or not, " Paley said. "I'm sure it will be hurtful to many people. It's still surreal a year later."

He said the tapes may help law enforcement and school officials evaluate protocol, but as a parent, they change little.

Christine Wilford said she also has no intention of listening to the tapes, or reading stories about them.

"I'm not happy it's happening," said Wilford, who has a son in third grade and a daughter in kindergarten at Sandy Hook Elementary School. "I don't plan to listen, and I want to keep my children away from it. My kids have not mentioned it at all. And we're just following their lead."

Rabbi Shaul Praver, of Congregation Adath Israel in Newtown, has not listened to the publicized 911 emergency tapes from the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, nor does he know that he will.

What he does know is that, with the anniversary just over a week away, "the timing stinks.''

"Come on people, really?'' Praver said. "I'm afraid to listen to it because it will make me very sad, and take me out of the rhythm I've got going again."

Regardless of what delay the tapes may reveal, Praver said he is proud of the local and state police, and believes that all was done that could have been done.

"The element of surprise is always surprising, and it's very easy to play Monday morning quarterback; 20/20 hindsight,'' Praver said.

Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was one of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, said he would have preferred the 911 emergency tapes be kept private, but now that they have become public, he hopes they will not be exploited.

Headed into New York City on Wednesday, Heslin said he intended to read the transcripts on the ride. He assumes he will eventually listen to them, but doesn't expect to learn anything new.

"It's been chaotic and a lot of turmoil with what happened," he said. "And through all the politics of it, with gun issues and mental health, and even down to the funds and donations and the process with the state's attorney investigation and police, everyone has been unsettled. A lot of that now has fallen into place, and I'm hoping that after the beginning of the year things will calm to what a normal will be."

Thinking about how best to honor his son, Heslin said he found himself sleepless the other night as he remembered Jesse's excitement for Christmas last year.

"He said it was going to be the best Christmas ever," Heslin recalled.

Then came the unimaginable. Yet Heslin discovered what he thought impossible.

"Even though I didn't have Jesse, so it was the worst Christmas ever possible, the other hand was it was the only Christmas I can honestly say that I saw the true meaning of Christmas; the way people reached out to help and the compassion, the gifts of kindness. I realized he (Jesse) was right. It was going to be the best Christmas ever.

"So we'll see where this year goes."