The Hartford County
SWAT team was on alert within a minute after Omar Walter's 911 call mentioned
a school shooting. Officers Leah Halstrom and Frank Vincenzi were in the area
when the 911 call came in, and proceeded to the school immediately. After
the exchange between Gabriel and Halstrom, the SWAT team embarked immediately,
preparing enroute. Connecticut State Police and the New Stratford police force
arrived in conjunction with the Hartford County SWAT team, and paramedic units
and Firefighters from Hartford and Tolland counties.
Officers Leah Halstrom and Frank Vincenzi arrived not knowing what exactly to expect. Halstrom later said that she considered the possibility of it being a prank or mistake, but was truly prepared for the worst in light of the events of the past two years. Vincenzi and Halstrom encountered fleeing students on their way in. Vincenzi talked to a small group of students who indicated that there were two or three perpetrators and they were in the general area of the library. Most of the students near the area where the shooting took place managed to successfully evacuate the school. Many teachers took the initiative to direct students away from the sound of firing and out of the building. This definitely saved many lives; Kriegman and Gabriel left the study area (where the most people were killed) presumably to search for more victims. Kriegman and Gabriel were very methodical; of the three survivors, Tina Vincent, Derek Sutter and David Foster, Vincent was the only one who did not try to escape.
As state and local police arrived, they started to assist fleeing students and faculty. The larger part of the students and faculty left out of the main entrance. This allowed Lt. Del Grissom to assemble the team that would eventually enter the library slightly earlier then the main entrance team. The quick entry into the building was critical in the preservation of the victim's lives.
Law enforcement had a number of things working in their favor. First, students and teachers were more likely to attempt to exit the building and leave the area as quickly as possible. This meant there were very few people that the SWAT teams had to deal with before reaching the study area. Second, the study area, which contained the wounded, was not far into the building; there were also no classrooms in between the entrance and the library. Classrooms would have to be cleared and secured, one by one. Thirdly, the perpetrators themselves, although very methodical and merciless, were only active for slightly more than 15 minutes from their first shots to their suicides. More than half of that time was spent stalking empty areas of the school. It must be noted that they shot or attempted to shoot everyone they encountered at close range. If they had decided not to commit suicide and look for more students, and if more students had decided to try and hide in the school, this tragedy might have become all the more terrible.