Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Man arrested for murder during 911 call

Police in Melbourne, Florida arrested a man and charged him with murder after he stabbed his roommate while on the phone with police. Kunta Grant was arrested Tuesday afternoon after he called 911 to report a dispute at his home. The argument escalated while Grant was on the phone and Grant stabbed Daniel Amore in the chest.

When police arrived at the residence they found Amore unresponsive and he was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Detectives said that Grant and Amore fought a lot and they had responded to the home on several occasions. Although Grant and Amore moved in recently, since 2000 police have been called 25 times to the address where the stabbing occurred.

Grant was charged with second degree murder and is being held in jail. Police said that Grant had just gotten out of jail in October after serving six months for driving on a suspended license; he was on supervised felony probation for that charge. (info & photo from WOFL & Florida Today)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Last-minute reminder:
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Monday, December 29, 2008

Nice story: 911 staff saves Christmas for poor kids

Chicago's 911 dispatchers rescued Christmas last week for a family whose distraught grandmother had called for help. Shirley Bell called 911 on the day before Christmas for her very upset 8-year-old grandson, Malik Parish.

"It was something about that grandmother's voice, and that child and his candidness. He said, 'I don't have any toys for Christmas,'" said 911 dispatcher Pamela Jenkins.

Bell, who has custody of five children, said she recently suffered a stroke and a heart attack, and support checks from the state had not arrived. Jenkins alerted co-workers and dispatched police officers, who found a nice, clean home without a single sign of Christmas.

Within hours, the 911 dispatchers and their families had gathered $200 for new presents to go with toys and clothes donated by their own children. Malik got a G.I. Joe and a PlayStation, and groceries were delivered on Christmas Day.

"There are countless times we want to help," Jenkins said. "I enjoyed it, and I wish we could help people more than we do." (info from UPI)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Man died after misdagnosis by 911 responders

Washington DC Fire Chief Dennis Rubin asked the city's inspector general to investigate his agency's handling of an emergency call in which a man complaining of chest pains and trouble breathing died hours after paramedics told him he had acid reflux and did not take him to a hospital.

Edward Givens was not breathing when a relative found him lying in a hallway in the early morning of Dec. 3. Paramedics who responded to a 911 call about six hours earlier instructed Givens to take an over-the-counter antacid for what they assessed as acid reflux and left, family members said. Givens's mother, Lolitha Givens, said she wanted her son taken to the hospital but that paramedics said he did not need to go.

"It was the department's view that, because of the public scrutiny in this case, it required us to seek an outside, independent review," said a spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

Rubin's decision to involve the inspector general appeared in contrast with his predecessor's actions in the case of journalist David Rosenbaum, who was fatally beaten in a January 2006 street robbery near his home in Northwest Washington. Paramedics mistakenly treated Rosenbaum as a drunk and of low medical priority. Days after the initial 911 response, Fire Chief Adrian H. Thompson declared that "appropriate measures were taken" and that rescuers met "all standards of care." But a report issued months later found "multiple failures" in Rosenbaum's care and "alarming levels of complacency and indifference" among the city's emergency responders.

Rosenbaum's family filed a $20 million lawsuit against the city for a series of missteps but decided on a settlement in which the city vowed to improve emergency care. An EMS task force was chaired by Rubin, and in recent months he has said the department has implemented many of the group's recommendations. Etter said the department will fully cooperate with the inspector general. "Our goal is to maintain the public's trust at all times," Etter said. (info from The Wahington Post)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wacko shot by cop responding to 911 call

A Maitland, Florida police officer shot and critically wounded a mentally ill man Monday night after the man attacked his caregiver and lunged at police. Ronald Btesh tried to lock the front door when they responded to a call for help from his caregiver, Nohemy Castelblanco.

On a 911 call recording, a panicked Castelblanco is heard telling the operator about the attack. "The man is crazy," Castelblanco said. "He attacked me."

"Ma'am, you have to calm down and talk to me," the operator said. "Did he rape you?"

"Yes," Castelblanco answered.

Lt. Jeff Harris of the Maitland Police Department said Castelblanco had been struck several times, but Btesh never raped her as initially reported.

Officers forced their way into Btesh's residence about 11:15p.m. and confronted him at gunpoint. They shouted several orders at Btesh, but he did not comply and lunged at Officer Rebecca Denicola, police said. She fired her gun, striking Btesh three times. Denicola was placed on paid administrative leave.

Btesh was in critical condition Tuesday at a hospital.

Btesh's caregiver told authorities he is mentally ill and that she has been caring for him since he was a child. (info from The Orlando Sentinel)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cable theft kills 911 service

About 800 Lane County, Oregon residents were unable to report emergencies via telephone land lines on Monday after metal thieves stole about 470 feet of Qwest phone line west of Junction City.

Affected residents with emergencies were urged to report them in person to a Fire Station. Volunteers were available to take emergency reports at the two fire stations and then relay them to the 911 Center by radio.

The value of the stolen wire was estimated at $18,000, said Sgt. Fred Swank of the Lane County Sheriff’s Office. Because the first-degree theft involved the disruption of a public utility, it rises to the level of a felony crime, he said.

The wire hung from telephone poles about 30 feet to 40 feet above the ground. “Someone had to physically climb up the pole to do this,” Qwest spokesman Bob Gravely said. “When someone knows what they’re doing, they can definitely do some damage.”

Gravely said people who steal telephone wire tend to work in rings. The recent arrest of a suspect in the Kelso, Wash., area led to the arrest of nine other people also accused of participating in a series of metal thefts, he said. The thieves almost certainly stole the telephone wire for its copper content, he said.

Swank said authorities have contacted local metal recycling companies to alert them to anyone trying to unload quantities of copper wire. “But they were probably smart enough to take it out of our area,” he said of the thieves. “It had to be somebody with a pretty significant truck to load it up.”

Swank said the crime put people in jeopardy. “If you live out where there’s no cell tower for your cellphone, and a land line is your only contact for police, fire or medical emergency, then this puts you at risk,” he said.

Swank said the thefts reflect a broken criminal justice system in which criminals know they will see little if any jail time if apprehended. “As thieves become more and more brazen, this is the kind of stuff they’re going to pull,” he said. (info from The Register-Guard)

Monday, December 22, 2008

911 money saving policy may not save money

The unpaid furloughs ordered for Stockton, California city employees over a month ago were intended to save money, but at the police and fire departments, furloughed emergency dispatchers are replaced by others who are then paid overtime.

At the Stockton Police Department's dispatch center, civilian employees field 911 and non-emergency calls, and direct officers to respond to those calls. The center never closes, must maintain staffing to handle Stockton's call volume, and is short seven dispatchers from a full strength of 39.

That necessitates calling in dispatchers on their days off to fill in. The practice is called "hire back." "We were already at the point that if anyone took a vacation, we had to hire back," Stockton police Capt. Trevor Womack said. "The furloughs didn't change any of that."

The furloughs, which will close city offices - but not dispatch centers - over the holidays, were adopted this fall to close a roughly $23.5 million municipal budget deficit. The furloughs and equivalent reductions by labor units are estimated to save the city about $1.1 million through June 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

Since police and fire dispatch centers can't close, their workers can't be furloughed all at once, but in small, short doses. Womack said that under current conditions, it is not possible for the city to save money by sending dispatchers home without pay.

"No way; that's obvious," he said. "We're going to have to hire back for every single one of those hours." There's no relief pool in the dispatch center. Any time someone's sick or on vacation, they have to hire back.

The Police Department did alert the city that furloughing dispatchers would lead inevitably to overtime and, possibly, to officers being brought in to work the phones instead of the streets, Assistant Chief Blair Ulring said. "We're 24 hours, 365 days. We can't close down," Ulring said.

In an October e-mail to Human Resources Director Dianna Garcia, Deputy Police Chief Mark Helms wrote: "You should also know that furloughs in the Communications Center will not save money." City Manager Gordon Palmer said he wasn't certain whether dispatcher furloughs would save money, but he said the program as a whole will. (info & photo from

Friday, December 19, 2008

Better than 911.
Give or get a Batphone for Christmas

Now everyone can have a flashing red phone like Batman

When there’s trouble in Gotham City, Police Commissioner Gordon calls caped crusader Batman, the secret alter ego of millionaire Bruce Wayne.

At Wayne Manor, the flashing red Batphone is answered by Alfred the butler, who tells Wayne about the trouble. Then Wayne and his young ward Dick Grayson put on their superhero costumes. As Batman and Robin, they race from the Batcave in the Batmobile to battle evil-doers, or rescue citizens in distress.

Now everyone can have a bright red flashing Batphone just like a superhero. When an emergency call - or even an ordinary call - comes in, a bright red light centered in a shiny chrome ring starts flashing to attract attention.

The Batphone has classic sixties styling, with heavy-duty construction, a two-year warranty, and is made in the USA. It gets all of its power from the phone line, and doesn’t require a power cord or batteries. It can work on an ordinary home phone line, or on an "analog extension port" in a business phone system.

The phone rings when the light flashes, unless a purchaser prefers the bell to be disconnected for silent signaling, or an optional high-pitched "BatSignal" or buzzer to be installed instead of the bell. Price with the bell is $122, including "ground" shipping to all 50 states. Fast shipping for delivery before Christmas is available at an extra charge.

Order online at, or call toll-free 1-888-225-3999.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Woman called 911 TEN THOUSAND times!

A judge in Canada still isn't sure that a Montreal woman deserves only a suspended sentence for inundating 911 operators with a whopping 10,000 calls over a 15-month span. Quebec court Judge Serge Boisvert said he is willing to give Marie-Eve Dean more time in therapy before handing down a sentence.

A police investigation revealed that Dean and her ex-brother-in-law overwhelmed 911 operators with so many calls between January 2006 and April 2007 that on some days real emergency calls couldn't get through.

The government said the acts were perpetrated in part due to a hatred for authority figures, including the police. Boisvert said he wants Dean, who was convicted on mischief charges in October, to get more psychiatric help. Dean, who is 21 weeks pregnant, started therapy at the end of October, about a week after Boisvert called her actions immature and irresponsible.

"There has been progress, serious progress that has satisfied Judge Boisvert," said Claude Boucher, Dean's lawyer. Boucher said the therapy aims to curb Dean's anger towards society.

Boucher said Dean is committed to the therapy for 21 weeks, but he also emphasized that the co-accused in the case, Salim Omar Sheik Abuu, received a nine-month suspended sentence even though he made more than half the calls. Boisvert responded that there is no guarantee Dean would get the same sentence as her co-accused.

A report revealed that Dean was a high-risk to re-offend and Boisvert wasn't convinced that she'd owned up to her actions. "I'm pleased with your progress and hope it continues," he told her on Wednesday.

Boucher said outside the courtroom that Dean does realize the impact of her actions. "We can't change the past, but she realizes what she's done is wrong," Boucher said.

In October, Dean, who was accompanied by her mother and sister, swore as her family gave television cameras the finger while leaving the Montreal courthouse.

Boucher said he warned Dean's family he would rather not have them there if they weren't able to respect the right of journalists to be at the courthouse. This time Dean and her family were escorted by courthouse security without incident. Dean returns to court on Feb. 27. (info from

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sad story: woman stuck on tracks called 911, but was killed by train

A Lake Forest, California woman who died from injuries suffered when her car was struck by a freight train in Anaheim dialed 911 to report her predicament and was being urged by a dispatcher to get out of the car when the phone went dead.

Linda Kruger-Small was in a Honda Civic that got stuck on Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks and the car was struck by a freight train traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Anaheim police Sgt. Rick Martinez said police received a 911 call from a woman asking for help because she was stuck on railroad tracks. A dispatcher who was advising her to get out of the car was able to hear a man trying to help the woman -- but then the line went dead.

Motorists who stop at the signal have to cross the tracks before turning right or left. Martinez said the woman may have miscalculated and instead of driving over the tracks to turn on the street, turned right or left on the tracks, the sergeant said.
Had that happened, "the car could have become disabled on the tracks," he said. She may have not been able to move the car forward or back up.

The bystander, who unsuccessfully tried to get the woman to get out before the train struck the car, pulled her out after it was hit. The woman was taken to a hospital where she died.

Martinez emphasized that until a full investigation is complete police will not know for sure what happened. Lena Kent of BNSF Railways said Monday that the crossing is in a designated quiet zone, where the conductor does not normally sound a whistle, but he did when he saw the car on the tracks.

To qualify for quiet zone designation, the crossing has enhanced safety equipment including a concrete median. The equipment is maintained by the railroad and was working, Kent said.

"Why it was sitting there, we don't know," Kent said, adding that the woman would have had to drive onto the tracks before the gate arms lowered. Martinez did not know how much time Kruger-Small would have had between getting on the tracks before the arms lowered and when the train struck the car. He said he has driven it and it appears to give ample warning, but once events were set in motion, "things happened very fast." Police were still searching for additional witnesses, Martinez said. (info from

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mother's 911 call prevents son's suicide

Three plainclothes Norwalk, Connecticut police officers tackled a man threatening to jump off a ledge of parking garage on Monday afternoon. The man's mother had called 911 after she spoke to him on his cellphone and became concerned that he might harm himself.

Police began searching the downtown area for a car matching the mother's description of her son's "rusty Toyota missing a gas cap."

Officers had put in numerous calls to the man's cellphone, Deputy Chief Rosemary Arway said, but he did not respond. They were able to locate the "despondent" 25-year-old and multiple police cars and a fire engine responded.

According to Arway, police set up a perimeter around the entire city block. The three officers approached the man from behind, grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground. He was transported to an ambulance and taken to a Hospital. (info from The Hour)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Not wacky, just surprising. Someone called 911 about TV store burglary

Cheektowaga, New York Police say General Garett of Lewiston broke a window at the Rosa's Home Store in Cheektowaga and took three flat-screen TVs. But a vigilant neighbor heard the noise and called 911.

Once Cheektowaga Police arrived, Garett sped away with the TVs in his Suburban. Police followed, and Garett led them to a parking lot at the Walden Galleria, and then to Buffalo. The chase ended with a crash in Buffalo. The Suburban hit another vehicle and cops apprehended Garett.

A Cheektowaga police car was also damaged in the incident. None of the drivers were seriously injured. The manager at Rosa's says it's fantastic that a neighbor alerted police by calling 911, a sign that there are indeed people looking out for others. (info from WKBW TV)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fireman charged with false 911 call

A firefighter who was thought to have been angry about department budget cuts and station closings was arrested for falsely reporting a fire at a public school on City Island in the Bronx, New York. Nicholas Vrettos, who joined the department in 2002, is charged with a felony count of falsely reporting an incident.

Fire officials said that on Dec. 4, a fire was reported — but not found — in the cafeteria of a school. The 911 call followed an announcement by Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta that Ladder Company 53, where Vrettos worked, would be partly closed at night.

The Department of Investigation, which was notified by the Fire Department that a firefighter was implicated in the false alarm, traced the call to a business that Vrettos operates. He faces up to seven years in prison.

“Calling in a false alarm to 911 is not the way to protest a budget cut that prompted a partial closure,” Rose Hearn, commissioner of the Department of Investigation, said. “The timing of the calls suggests a deliberate attempt to tax the Fire Department’s ability to respond.” Hearn said that it “defies belief” that a firefighter would risk the safety of fellow firefighters and the public by calling in a nonexistent emergency.

Scoppetta called the acts “unforgivable.” He said, “Anyone who shows such blatant disregard for our firefighters’ time and the safety of the public should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

A firefighters’ union spokesman said that because Vrettos was not on duty at the time of the call, he would not be represented by a union lawyer. (info from the New York Times)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shooting victim disappeared after calling 911

A man from South Arlington, Texas disappeared early Wednesday after telling a 911 operator that he was being followed by men who were shooting at him. The man, Jose Lira, 41, also pounded on a neighbor's door, asking her to call police.

Lira called 911 about 1:30 a.m. while he was driving toward his home. When officers arrived at the house, they found neither Lira nor his pursuers. "We don't know if he ran off, or they took him or what happened," Lt. Blake Miller, a police spokesman, said.

Evidence of a struggle was found at Lira's residence, Miller said. His wife and children were home; none was injured. Lira's cellphone was found and his vehicles were parked outside when officers arrived.

In the 911 call, Lira, speaking Spanish, identified himself and told the 911 operator that he was using a cellphone. The operator tried to determine his location while he told her about gunshots. In the background, popping sounds could be heard, as well as the sound of dogs barking. Lira told the operator that he was being followed home by four people with pistols riding in a car and a truck.

"My children are here," Lira said, apparently as he arrived home. As the 911 operator tried to get the address, the call was disconnected.

A neighbor said he heard dogs barking early Wednesday but heard no gunshots. Another said she heard a man screaming, and then a frantic knock at the door. Lira was yelling for someone to call the police, she said. "But he didn't say why he wanted us to call the police," the neighbor said. She did not open the door, she said, but someone called 911.

Lira is about 6 feet tall and weighs about 240 pounds. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Ben Lopez at 817-459-5373 or Crime Stoppers at 817- 469-8477. All tipsters can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward up to $1,250. (info from the Star-Telegram)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lucky, not wacky: woman called for rescue from bottom of well

An 82-year-old Swanzey, New Hampshire woman was rescued Sunday afternoon after she fell into a 12-foot well in her back yard. Frannie Guion was able to call for help with her cellphone after she fell into the well while she was doing her laundry. The well was hidden by grass and dirt.

"I think it was just a miracle we were able to get the call and help her," said Swanzey fire Chief Norm Skantze.

Guion called 911 and initially said that her legs were stuck. But rescuers found that her head wasn't visible from the surface. "I'm not even sure she fully realized what happened because it happened all of a sudden," Skantze said. "It was not what we were anticipating when we were responding."

Twenty rescuers responded. They used a tripod system that spanned the hole, allowing a rescuer to be lowered. Guion was then lifted from the well with an oversized belt.

The rescue took about 15 minutes and was done before dark. Guion's grandson, Josh Guion, said that he hadn't seen his grandmother since the fall, but he said she's a tough woman.

"She had knee replacement surgery and walks around, gets around fine," he said. "She's in good shape for her age." He said that she broke a rib, but it could have been much worse. "She could have died last night if she didn't have her cellphone," he said. (info from WMUR TV)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Drunk arrested for eight calls to 911

A drunken man in Sea Pines, South Carolina faces a criminal charge for allegedly calling 911 eight times over a seven-hour period to report that his ex-girlfriend had stolen his dog, according to a Beaufort County sheriff’s report.

Dispatchers told the man several times that he needed to call the non-emergency number. Sea Pines security had already written a report about the alleged theft of the dog and told the man how to get a warrant.

Deputies responded twice, and arrested him the second time Friday after learning he was “harassing and annoying” the dispatchers by “cursing, demeaning and criticizing them,” the report said. He was charged with unlawful use of 911 and taken to the county jail.

His ex-girlfriend has an active restraining order against him. (info from The Island Packet)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Man killed after threatening to kill cops when father called 911 about him

A Sonoma, California man who vowed never to go back to prison was fatally shot Saturday. Craig Von Dohlen threatened to shoot police officers who responded to a 911 call, apparently from his father. The caller told police that Von Dohlen had a loaded .22 caliber rifle and was threatening to kill others and commit suicide.

On the 911 recording, Von Dohlen can be heard threatening the two deputy sheriffs and two Sonoma police officers dispatched to the home. The officers encountered Von Dohlen in the backyard of the home, and multiple shots can be heard on the tape.

Von Dohlen was struck by gunfire. Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Lisa Banayat confirmed Sunday that officers at the scene fired their weapons, but it wasn't clear whether their shots killed the man. She said she didn't know if Von Dohlen fired his weapon.

He was pronounced dead at Sonoma Valley Hospital. The deputies and officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave, following protocols for officer-involved shootings. An autopsy is scheduled. (info from The San Francisco Chronicle)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Gun victim died after neighbors delayed 911 call

For nearly an hour, neighbors watched a man lying in a parking lot outside their windows, but during that time no one called 911. Now that man is Kansas City's latest homicide victim.

Police said Amir Muhammad died of a gunshot wound to the head. Police said he laid in the parking lot of Friendship Village, gagging on his own blood. A woman who wants to be known only as Sybil said people nearby saw him in the parking lot. "They apparently thought he was drunk, or on drugs, whatever. But it's none of my business," she said.

Others in Friendship Village said as horrible as it sounds, they aren't surprised that no one was willing to call police, and instead watched Muhammad lay on the pavement in plain sight. "They live in fear of getting involved. They're afraid to get involved because it connects them in some kind of way," neighbor Crystal Knickerbocker said.

But community activists say such fear is not justified. They believe the unwillingness of ordinary citizens to help police by simply calling 911 shows why Kansas City is expected to have more homicides this year than any other time this decade.

"It says a bad thing about this village of people here. We should have citizens that at least be good samaritans," anti-crime activist Ron MacMillian said. "A call to police to say, 'Hey, somebody's out there bleeding to death,' is not snitching if that's what you're worried about. It's showing concern for your brother."

Muhammad was rushed to the hospital Monday night, but died Tuesday morning. Some wonder if that hour he lay in the parking lot could have meant the difference between life and death. (info from Fox TV)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Prison escapee arrested after calling 911

A man listed as an escapee from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania for more than two years was arrested Wednesday morning after he called 911 to report a domestic argument he was having with his girlfriend in a hotel room.

Patton Township police responded, and a routine check revealed that in September 2006, Darren Dixon failed to return to Luzerne County Prison from a work release program.

He was taken into custody without incident and placed in jail to await extradition. (info from Centre Daily Times)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

911 caller is suspected of elder abuse

Yesterday, police in Texas City, Texas were still searching for the person who made a 911 call that led to the discovery of a woman who was barely clinging to life.

Police said they are “very confident” the man who made the call was the woman’s son and confirmed he had lived in the house where the woman was found.

Linda Sue Sainz remained in a hospital on Tuesday, four days after police found her on the floor of her home. Police said her home was filthy, that she was malnourished and that maggots were feeding on open sores on her back.

Police were tipped through a 911 call late Friday night by a man claiming to be Sainz’s son. When officers arrived, they found Sainz alone in the house. Police are treating the case as one of neglect of a disabled person.

A state agency, Adult Protective Services, is conducting its own investigation.

Gwen Carter, a spokeswoman for the agency, said Adult Protective Services conducted 8,366 investigations of confirmed cases of abuse or neglect of either elderly or disabled people in the 12-county region that includes Galveston County last year. That’s a 55 percent increase from the 5,400 cases investigated in 1997.

Many cases could be prevented if friends, neighbors or family members paid closer attention. The most important thing is to constantly communicate with a neighbor, family member or friend who is elderly or disabled. Talking to that person or checking up on him goes a long way in preventing possible abuse or neglect.

“It’s everybody’s responsibility to look out because when something happens, (the consequences are) horrible when it does,” she said.

Some of Sainz’s neighbors indicated they noticed unusual behavior or changes in lifestyle.

“She would just drive her car frequently, but then all the sudden she stopped driving it and I noticed her son was driving her car more often,” said neighbor Pascual Valdez. “I was assuming she moved away because we hadn’t heard from her in awhile.”

While not commenting on the Sainz case specifically, Carter said neighbors or friends who notice a change in behavior should check on the person. “There’s no harm done just to ask someone how he or she are doing,” she said. “If you do, you may just save a life.”

Carter said people should look out for signs of trouble. “If you see them and they are unkempt or unclean or if they have pets and they begin to accumulate lots of more pets, you should ask,” she said.

Not seeing a person for a long time is also an indicator something is wrong, Carter said. She also said cases of neglect are not necessarily criminal cases. Sometimes, a person just doesn’t have the means to care for the victim. (info from the Galveston Daily News)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Man busted after calling 911 for gas

A man in Watertown, New York man faces drug and alcohol charges after he called 911 to report he was out of gas.

Christopher J. Munn Jr. was charged with Unlawful Possession of Marijuana and Open Container of Alcohol when State Police investigated a complaint of an illegally parked van.

While investigating, the trooper at the scene was informed that the driver had called Jefferson County 911 to report he was out of gas.

The trooper also noticed a glass pipe and a device commonly used to grind marijuana, in plain view in the vehicle. The pipe was found to contain marijuana residue.

Munn was issued appearance tickets for court. (info from Newport Television)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Blackout kills 911 service in Florida

Most small business bosses and even home computer users know they need a back-up battery system to keep their computers running when the juice stops flowing from the electric company. Hospitals, hotels and government buildings often have big diesel generators standing-by to provide emergency electricity.

But apparently the folks who run the 911 center in Broward County, Florida (including Fort Lauderdale) had too much faith in the power company.

The outage occurred around 9:45 a.m. on Sunday and affected the 911 call system and the computer aided dispatch system. The department's non-emergency phone line was also affected. Within an hour, the 911 and computer aided dispatch systems were operational again. The non-emergency phone line was restored around noon.

A sheriff's office spokesperson said Florida Power & Light caused the outage. There was no estimate of how many calls may have been missed when the systems were down. Reports that the center was seeking proposals for the installation of a generator powered by gerbils on a treadmill could not be confirmed. (info from

Friday, November 28, 2008

Man arrested for 37 fake 911 calls and threats

Jesse Miller called 911 in Minneapolis 37 times on Thanksgiving, threatening the lives of the people who answered the phone and the president.

Sounds of yelling woke up Richard Washpun, who lives upstairs from Miller. Miller usually lives at the home with his wife and three children, but on Thanksgiving morning, he was alone. "There wasn't nobody here but him," Washpun said. "He wasn't arguing with anyone because there was nobody here but him."

Miller began calling 911 around 4 a.m., with fake calls of assaults. Over the next three hours, he called 37 times - an average of once every five minutes. Miller threatened to kill police officers, the 911 dispatchers and George W. Bush.

When police arrived, Miller barricaded himself inside, so officers broke down the back door, confronted Miller, tazered him and arrested him.

"The phone calls, barricading himself, threatening himself, all of that together caused us to go out there and take him away," said Sgt. Jesse Garcia of the Minneapolis Police Department. Miller has a history of drug, alcohol, assault and burglary convictions. He was on probation at the time of the incident. (info from KAAL TV)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Man arrested for wacky 911 calls, and threatening

A man in Fort Pierce, Florida was arrested Monday for threatening to kill children at a bus stop and improperly using the 911 system. Richard Dibernardini faces charges that include assault and misuse of the wireless 911 system.

A 15-year-old boy on Monday was at a bus stop when a man later identified as Dibernardini made threats. "If you come to the bus stop, I'll kill all of you," Dibernardini is quoted as saying.

The boy ran home and told his mother, who called 911. The teen also provided the suspect's address.

Dibernardini also is accused of calling 911 five times before this, "reporting non-emergency calls and just talking to the dispatchers." (info from

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

HazMat emergency INSIDE a 911 center

About 20 operators who dispatch Seattle police to emergency calls had to be evacuated Monday afternoon after a potentially hazardous material was found in the 911 center. A few dispatchers remained to handle calls.

About a half-hour later, dispatchers began returning after emergency crews found nothing wrong with the air in the center.

A spokeswoman for the Fire Department said the unknown liquid was discovered on the first floor of the 911 call center. Medics treated three people on the scene for minor symptoms, including watery eyes. An ambulance took one person, with asthma, to a hospital.

A second group of firefighters checked the center, but found nothing hazardous. Nearby streets were closed for awhile. (info & photo from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Monday, November 24, 2008

(serious, not wacky) Mother couldn't reach 911 through Vonage about baby with pills

A South Austin, Texas mother was looking for answers from broadband phone service provider Vonage, after she was unable to make a 911 call in early November after finding her 3-year-old son with an open bottle of vitamins. "I didn't know if he put any in his mouth, didn't know what happened, but just saw all these vitamins on the floor and was very concerned," said Mrs. Pope. She ran to her phone to call for help, "I got a dial tone at first, I called 911 and I just got dead air."

Pope said she tried 911 several more times and still nothing. She was eventually able to call her husband on his cellphone, who then called 911 for her. Emergency responders came to the home and after checking the son, determined he did not swallow any of the pills. "It was definitely a very scary false alarm," said Pope. "Especially knowing that had something else happened that wasn't a false alarm, I wouldn't have any way of contacting anyone."

Pope said she has taken all the steps required to sign up for 911 service as a Vonage customer. Vonage was the subject of a 2005 lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for not making those steps clear enough to its customers. Pope was still working with Vonage technicians to determine why her 911 call would not go through. One technician told her it was a "modem corruption" and worked with her to unplug and restart her computer, modem and router to her phone. Pope said she was able to make a practice 911 call after that but that the rest of her phone service has been erratic since. Another Vonage technician then told her it appeared she had a "bandwidth issue".

Vonage spokesperson Steve Seitz said the company processes 100,000 911 calls nationwide each day. "We obviously need to do the technical background on this," Seitz said, "We can't resolve something if we don't know what all the elements of the problem are." A spokesperson with the Texas Attorney General's office said this is the first complaint they have had about Vonage since 2005. (info from KXAN)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sad, not wacky, call to 911 after man killed wife

A man in Avon, Ohio placed a call to 911 on Wednesday morning and told dispatchers he had “just killed his wife to put her out of her misery.”

Paramedics tried to save the woman’s life, but she was pronounced dead a short time later. “She was not a healthy 84-year-old,” said Coroner Paul Matus, who had not yet ruled late Wednesday on the exact cause of death.

He said it appears the woman had suffered from ailing health for a long time. Neither police nor Matus released the victim’s name. The husband was questioned by Avon police and taken to a hospital for evaluation. Matus said the man “is not a well person.”

Police are investigating the circumstances of the woman’s death. (info from The Chronicle-Telegram)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Man arrested after fourth phony 911 call

Donald Parson, an employee of a Huntington, New York business, was arrested last week and charged with anonymously calling 911 to make a false report of a shooting at his workplace. Parson made at least three other anonymous, false emergency reports.

The most recent call came last Wednesday at around 5:35 p.m. reporting "a man firing a gun at an employee." The caller also stated that the gunman and employee were still locked inside the Four Way Pallet building where Parson works.

Police blockaded the area around the building, diverted traffic and evacuated or secured nearby buildings and prepared for a possible hostage situation. Emergency officers then entered the building and found that there was no gunman and that the report was false.

Police officers investigated and concluded that Parson had made the phony call, and found that in the past six months Parson had made at least three other 911 calls reporting nonexisting emergencies. Two of those calls also reported men with guns.

Parson pleaded not guilty to four counts of falsely reporting an incident. He was ordered held on $400 bail and is due back in court today. (info from Newsday)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Vodka-drinking gun cleaner killed daughter,
and called 911

A man in Washington state told police that he accidentally shot and killed his six-year-old daughter Sunday after drinking double vodkas while cleaning guns. Stormy Peters was shot in the head and died after being flown to a hospital.

Her father, Richard Peters, was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of first-degree manslaughter, a felony and was held on $250,000 bail.

Police say Peters called 911 about 7:30 p.m. Sunday. He told police he had asked his daughter to get his Colt pistol from a nightstand. Peters said he had unloaded the weapon's magazine but that somehow the gun fired. He told a detective that he "must have" pulled the trigger. The girl was knocked to the ground and instantly turned blue.

About 20 minutes after the shooting, detectives with the Sheriff's Office went to Peters' home and arrested him.

Peters said he had been drinking "double vodkas" while he and his wife were cleaning guns. Peters, who has a concealed-weapons permit, said he didn't notice whether the hammer was cocked when the gun was fired. He told police that the gun has a double action, and had a "hair trigger," according to court documents. Peters said he was uncertain whether the girl had pulled back the slide, which would put a cartridge in the chamber.

Peters' wife told police a different story. She said she went upstairs to get the gun. She told police that Peters emptied the gun, then pulled the slide back and it fired. The woman said she didn't notice until just before the gunshot that her daughter was in the room.

The girl's 8-year-old and 3-year-old siblings were not in the room. Child Protective Services removed the other children from the home.

When deputies arrived at the home, Peters was sitting out front with a neighbor, uttering that he had "just killed his little girl." He made statements about "harming himself."

Peters told detectives he'd been handling guns since age seven, often goes shooting with friends and that all his children had handled guns. Peters told police he was "very proficient" with firearms, but that while shooting pumpkins the day after Halloween he had accidentally fired a shotgun. Peters told officers he didn't know the friend he was shooting with had handed him a loaded shotgun.

Jack-o'-lanterns often are used for target practice at post-Halloween pumpkin shoots. The shot went downrange, and no one was hurt. People there apparently talked to Peters about the incident. (info from Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Unknown wacko keeps reporting fake fires to 911

One man in Indianapolis is responsible for at least four false 911 calls since June, leading firefighters to nonexistence blazes at the same house.

In one call, the man claimed to be driving by a home on fire, in another he said it's his home and that his children are inside.

"I need the fire department at 2731 N. Baltimore, fast. My house is on fire and my son is in there and my baby is in there," the man tells an operator in one call. "They cannot get out and I can't get back in. The whole front of my house is on fire."

In each case a fire station dispatched at least six fire trucks. Firefighters who work there say it's a high-stress situation that can turn dangerous. "It puts all of us in danger and all the people that are on the street driving are in danger. So, it's a bad situation for everybody," said Capt. Mike Fagan.

Others said it's clear that the caller is the one who needs some help.

"Actually, I kind of feel sorry for them, that they need to do that on a daily basis or they have nothing better to do," said Pvt. Steve Ross. "They're putting people at risk."

Indianapolis police said they are actively pursuing the case. "It's very disturbing and it's not good. We need to find out who this individual is so it can cease immediately," said Indianapolis police Lt. Jeffery Duhamell.

False reporting is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. (info from The Indy Channel)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Time Out

I'm taking a few days off

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Over-reaction to 911 call: six cops, no arrests

With 911 reports indicating that a man had kicked in the door of a home in Stanhope, Iowa Monday afternoon and then assaulted a woman by hitting her with a vehicle, a fleet of area law enforcement officers rushed in to help.

There were six squad cars with their warning lights flashing outside the home.
Responding to the scene were two Webster City Police officers, two Iowa State Patrol officers, the Ellsworth/Jewell/Stanhope Police Department, and one Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy.

Steve Butler, chief of the Ellsworth/Jewell/Stanhope Department reported that the incident was verbal only and no charges would be filed. (info from The Daily Freeman-Journal)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Woman called 911 to get cop to open her beer

An elderly woman who had trouble falling asleep bought a few bottles of beer, which she thought would make her sleepy.

Unfortunately, she did not have the right kind of bottle opener, so she called 911 to request help.

"I went out and bought me some small bottles of beer. I thought that would put me to sleep," the caller says.

"What's the problem?," the dispatcher asks.

The caller says, "The problem is I can't open the bottle, can you send a man over?"

Although this was not an emergency, the compassionate 911 operator did send help.

CLICK to hear a recording of the call.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Homeless man called 911 to ask to go to jail

A homeless man in Fort Walton Beach, Florida called 911 from a payphone Thursday because he wanted to go to jail.

He called 911 but hung up. An officer went to the area anyway.

The man said he called 911 because he wanted to go to jail. "I informed (him) that I did not have a reason to take him to jail," the officer said. Then the man said he had marijuana, pulled it out of his sock and dropped it on the back of the patrol car.

He was taken to the police department, where officers also found rolling paper on him. The man was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. (Info from Northwest Florida Daily News)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pennsylvania wireless 911 system failed test

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner recently recommended that the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency improve its administration of the statewide Wireless E-911 Emergency Services Program, after a special performance audit determined that a fully operational statewide system was not in place by June 30.

Auditors found that 11 of 69 call centers could not pinpoint the location of cellphone users placing emergency 911 calls -- even though PEMA had invested $214 million to build the system. The funds were derived from a $1 monthly surcharge the wireless service providers collected from Pennsylvania cellphone customers.

Auditors determined that inadequate staffing played a central role in the program's shortcomings, including PEMA's inability to make sure that the $214 million in funding had been disbursed prudently to county call centers.

"Taxpayers have a right to expect that when they pay for something, it should work as intended and it should be completed on time," Wagner said. "This is not a civics debate; it is a matter of life and death. When every second counts, and with more and more people relying on cellphones as their only communications device, it's imperative that the wireless E-911 system fulfill its goal of providing a caller's precise location to emergency responders. I strongly recommend that PEMA implement all of the recommendations made in our audit." (info from Government Technology)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

911 center screwed up a second murder call

For the second time this year, the Dane County, Wisconsin 911 Center neglected to dispatch police officers in a timely manner before a homicide.

According to a statement released by the Dane County Public Safety Communications, two noise complaint phone calls were received on the Public Safety Communication’s non-emergency line at 9:18 p.m. and 9:34 p.m.

Police were not sent to the scene until approximately 11 p.m. after receiving an emergency call from a cellphone reporting a dead body. The body was identified as Mark Gregory Johnson.

“The call was called at a non-emergency number but the 911 Center did pick up the telephone and process the call, but they didn’t follow the procedures as they should have,” said Alderman Larry Palm.

Last spring, the 911 Center was under fire for the mishandling of a phone call from University of Wisconsin junior Brittany Zimmermann’s phone on the day of her murder.

In September, then-911 Center Director Joe Norwick resigned from his position, and the center is still seeking a full-time replacement.

Palm said there were an ample number of officers on duty the evening of Nov. 3 when the calls were received indicating excessive noise and escalating violence. During both noise complaint calls, the 911 dispatcher agreed to send police to the scene of the incident.

“The irony is that the new policy adapted by the 911 Board wasn’t followed,” Palm said. “The first call is logged, and (after) the second call, police are dispatched. It is ironic that for both phone calls, the police said they would respond. Clearly, the management understands the incredible pressure at this moment,” Palm said. “They have clearly not been able to reform underlying issues.” (info from The Badger Herald)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

House damaged after 911 call goes unanswered

Police in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada are looking for answers after a 911 call about an out-of-control Halloween night house party never got dispatched to the local police station.

The result, which came after a series of complaints about the party, left one home with multiple damages after it was pelted with rocks by suspected party-goers at a neighboring residence.

“It’s safe to say our officers have done inquiries in relation to all of the phone calls, and it would appear that the last phone call was never dispatched down to the Vernon detachment,” said Vernon Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesman Gord Molendyk. “We are definitely following up on this. We want to find out exactly what happened in relation to how these calls came in. We’ve asked for transcripts of the calls in relation to the complaints.”

According to Molendyk, police received a complaint of a noisy house party shortly after 11 p.m. Friday. Vernon bylaw officers, who work evening shifts and handle noisy party complaints, were sent to the house. Molendyk said the bylaw officer told police the party was subsiding, and no police officers were sent out.

Ken and Melanie Westgarde, the homeowners whose home was damaged by vandals, say they placed four calls to RCMP. Melanie Westgarde said that her husband made the first call at 10:30, saying a firecracker had hit their home, and an officer called back at 11:15 to see how the party was going, and informed the Westgardes that he would not be attending because of a busy Halloween evening, but would still try to send somebody out to the party.

Between 11:30 and 12, the violence started to escalade, and Ken Westgarde called the RCMP non-emergency line for the second time and asked to have an officer sent out. The Westgardes say no officer showed up at their door that they are aware of.

After hearing an explosion outside, and with rocks being thrown at their home, through their home and at them, Ken Westgarde called 911 at 12:30 and asked to have a police officer sent out immediately. None came out, say the couple.

By 2:15, the crowd had dispersed, and the RCMP were phoned again, at their non-emergency number. And Westgarde was told that nobody was going to come out.

“At the time, I was shocked,” said Ken Westgarde. “The biggest thing was I called 911, I got a hold of somebody. What happened after that I don’t know. The police never came out.”

The Westgarde’s home suffered several broken windows and other damage, and rock damage to a vehicle.

The incident is not sitting well with the local police. “We as the police department for this community take our service to the public very, very seriously,” said Molendyk. “We do not like to have anyone who calls 911 not to get service. We’d like to know the answer as to what happened.”

This is not the first incident involving Vernon RCMP and an unanswered 911 call. A Vernon woman is suing the local RCMP after she was beaten by her then-boyfriend in June 2004. She called 911 during her boyfriend’s attack on her, but police did not arrive until 90 minutes after her original call. (info from Vernon Morning Star)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Kidnap victim called 911 from car trunk

Police in Kernersville, North Carolina are searching for two men accused of kidnapping a woman.

She called 911 around 2:11AM last Wednesday morning to report she was kidnapped. Deputies later found a wrecked vehicle that they determined to be stolen.

Deputies located the vehicle with GPS technology and found the kidnapped woman in the trunk. She was not injured. Police are searching for the suspects. (info from WFMY)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Florida woman made false 911 call about her shooting burglar

A Fort Pierce, Florida woman was warned that Halloween is not a day to trick law officers. She was charged with misuse of the 911 system after she allegedly made several non-emergency calls Friday.

According to an arrest affidavit, Sara Coyne called 911 saying she shot a person who was breaking into her home. Sheriff’s deputies responded to the call with flashing lights and sirens.

Coyne told deputies she fired a .357 magnum because “someone tried to get into my house so I defended myself.”

But none of her neighbors heard a gun shot and Coyne refused to show deputies the gun she used, the report states.

Earlier that day, Coyne had called 911 and said children were in front of her house “making noise” and she wanted a deputy to make them move. (info from

Friday, October 31, 2008

Teen arrested for asking about 911 operators' underwear

A 16-year-old boy in Lancaster, Ohio has been arrested for harassing 911 dispatchers, Fairfield County Sheriff Dave Phalen said.

He said the boy had made several calls asking what color the dispatchers’ underwear is and what time they get off work. Phalen stressed that false 911 calls tie up phone lines and take attention away from real 911 emergencies. (info from Lancaster Eagle-Gazette)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Man arrested for multiple 911 prank calls

A man from Smyrna, Delaware was arrested by State Police for making several false 911 calls from August 2006 to October 2008.

Police say the case was recently solved after an incident that occurred on Oct. 14 at 1:30 am. In this case, someone called 911 and reported an armed suicidal subject was inside a home. When police arrived to investigate, they learned the home was unoccupied and discovered an empty beer can and backpack on the ground in front of the home next door. This caught the attention of the investigating trooper because police dispatchers informed the trooper the caller sounded intoxicated.

A wallet was found inside the backpack belonging to Damon Bethel. The trooper then saw a suspect through a window, looking at the trooper. The trooper shined his flashlight in that direction and the person ducked away from the window.

The trooper knocked on the door of the home and spoke to Bethel, who appeared intoxicated. Bethel said he was outside around the same time when the 911 call was made. Bethel's parents listened to the 911 call and identified the voice as Damon Bethel.

According to investigators, Bethel was responsible for additional falsely reported incidents:

On Aug. 13, 2006 a 911 call was received with the caller reporting that he had killed his wife and daughter.

On Jan. 22, 2007, a 911 call was received with the caller reporting he was stabbed.

On Jan. 23, 2007, a 911 call was received with the caller reporting a domestic incident occurring at a home.

On Feb. 05, 2007, a 911 call was received with the caller reporting he had ingested pills to commit suicide.

On May 15, 2007, a 911 call was received with the caller reporting shots fired and a burglary in progress at a home.

All of these incidents were investigated and found to have been falsely reported. As a result of these incidents Bethel was arrested and charged with seven misdemeanor counts of falsely reporting an alleged incident. He was released on bond. (info from WBOC-TV)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

911 screw-up may have caused teen's death

Earlier this month two medical crews were dispatched to respond to a teenager suffering a seizure at an Atlanta high school. Antoine Marc Williams, 16, went into cardiac arrest and later died. One of the crews was ordered to turn back, possibly delaying medical care that might have saved his life.

James Bothwell, executive director of emergency medical services and trauma at Grady Memorial Hospital, said the decision to cancel one responder on Oct. 14 violated protocols for such emergencies. He also said additional medical personnel can help save lives in similar medical emergencies. “It is a big deal,” Bothwell said, concerned that someone in law enforcement turned back an Atlanta fire truck. “Looking back at this, it was not the best decision for the child.”

He said Grady’s own dispatchers immediately sent a two-person ambulance to the school when the first call came in about 3:20PM. A firetruck with medical personnel dispatched by Atlanta 911 at the same time was turned back about seven minutes later, officials said. Bothwell said that was a violation of protocols for such medical emergencies.

The firetruck was ultimately redirected to the school after the teen went into cardiac arrest in the Care ambulance. The firetruck arrived 35 minutes after the initial call for help was received. Williams died hours later.

Bothwell said the order to halt the firetruck paramedics wasted valuable time. The extra crew could have provided vital extra hands, especially when Williams went into cardiac arrest, he said.

Classmates said Williams and another student began play-wrestling in a classroom that afternoon when a teacher briefly left the room. Williams fell, grabbed his arm and shouted “my heart.” A police report said Williams began “shaking out of control,” and Bothwell said a teacher called 911 for help.

The Grady ambulance and the firetruck were dispatched, but for reasons that remain unclear, the 911 operator canceled the call for the firetruck. Bothwell said the 911 operator’s order to turn back the firetruck came as a directive by an unnamed law enforcement figure.

Bothwell said that sending both an ambulance and fire department personnel is a shared protocol in such high-priority medical emergencies as Williams’. His ambulance crew, which arrived at the school at 3:29PM, spotted a firetruck on the school grounds before they went up into the classroom, but that fire crew never made it up to the classroom. It was at 3:29PM that the 911 dispatcher canceled the call to the fire crew.

As many as five medical personnel are needed to properly care for a cardiac patient —- one to supervise and others to administer chest compressions, insert a breathing tube, breathe air into the patient’s mouth and to administer medications.

When Williams went into cardiac arrest, the crew alerted dispatchers. Once again, 911 dispatched a fire crew. That crew arrived three minutes later. It was the fire crew that inserted a breathing tube down Williams’ throat, he said.

Bothwell said he could not say whether the fire personnel being there throughout the incident would have saved Williams’ life —- but mere minutes can make a big difference in saving the life of a person in cardiac arrest. (info from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Neighbor drove shooting victim to hospital
when 911 call wasn't answered

Some residents of DeKalb County, Georgia are demanding answers about an unanswered 911 call last week after a man was shot.

Jose Lopez had stopped to get his mail when two men robbed him and shot him in the chest. Neighbors rushed to help. Several people called 911, but they said they got no answer. Several minutes later, one call was answered.

Rather than wait for police and an ambulance, neighbor Adib Hassen drove Lopez to a hospital. Lopez is in stable condition.

Lopez' wife rode in the car with her husband and Hassen to the hospital. Still not getting through to 911, Lopez' wife called her co-workers at the Doraville Police Department.

Now, Police Chief John King wants to know what went wrong. He's asked DeKalb County for details about what happened on their end.

Dekalb police spokeswoman Mekka Parrish said, "There were no issues with our 911 center. The two calls we did receive had to be transferred into our 911 center. We can't dispute other calls because another agency could have received them."

Specifically, Parrish said that at 12:07AM, DeKalb received a 911 call transferred from Doraville. After waiting on hold a little over one minute, the caller hung up. At 12:11AM, another 911 call was transferred from Doraville. At 12:16AM, Parrish said, the dispatcher sent help. At 12:21AM, police arrived at scene, but by that time, Lopez was gone. Parrish said the department will review the matter. (info from WGCL TV)

Monday, October 27, 2008

McCain's wacky brother called 911 to complain about traffic

Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s brother, Joe McCain, called 911 in Alexandria, Virginia last week to complain about traffic. And when he was told that 911 was only for emergencies, he swore at the operator and hung up.

Here's part of the transcript:

Operator: Alexandria 911, state your emergency

Caller: Well, it's not an emergency but do you know why on one side at the damn drawbridge of 95 traffic is stopped for 15 minutes and yet traffic's coming the other way across the drawbridge?

Operator: Sir, are you calling 911 to complain about traffic? (pause)

Caller: "[Expletive]" (caller hangs up)

The operator called the caller back and received this message: "Hi this is Joe McCain I can't take this message now because I'm involved in a very (inaudible) important political project... I hope on Nov. 4th we have elected John."

The operator then called the number back and left a message for Joe about how it is illegal to use a 911 number for anything other than emergencies.

Here's the best part: An outraged Joe called the operator back to complain about being read the riot act about calling 911 and got read the riot act again.

McCain later apologized and announced he was dropping out of his brother's campaign. He also said he thought his phone was muted when he swore at the 911 operator. He previously said that that Democratic-leaning Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia are "Communist country."(info from The Los Angeles Times)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Man jailed for 22 phony 911 calls

Christopher Gonzales of Jacksonville, Florida was recently arrested after he placed nearly two dozen fake calls to 911, prompting emergency responders to rush to a neighbor's home. Each time officers learned the stories were false.

Officers rushed to Jodi Harris' home repeatedly, responding to what they thought were serious crimes. However, Harris said she and her family were surprised when the officers arrived at their door.

"(He said) I was being beat, I was being stabbed to death, my husband killed his family and me," Harris said. "Every two days they would call."

At first, she thought the police visits were a mistake, but she soon realized it was a prank. "I would actually expect them. After a while, after it kept on happening I'd just expect them to come," Harris said. On one occasion, Harris said police were called to her home because they were told an officer had been shot and the body was in her car.

Not only did police respond each time 911 was called, but they also searched Harris' car and inside her home. "They're like, 'We need to check your house. We need to check your house,' and I'd be like why, and they said because someone said there was a body in here bleeding to death," Harris said.

She said the caller tortured her family and that her kids are now afraid of the police. Harris said for months she wondered who was behind the phony calls, until police let her hear the 911 calls. "I heard his voice and I was so stunned I was like that's my next-door neighbor," Harris said.

Gonzales is charged with making false 911 calls. According to the police report, officers were called to Harris' more than 22 times. Harris said she thinks Gonzalez was infatuated with her. She said the situation was a nightmare, and now with Gonzalez locked up, she hopes she won't see police at her door ever again.

"I hope he gets some help, I really do because I think something is wrong with him," Harris said. "He does need to be charged for it because, I mean, it's taking a toll on my family and my kids, really."

Harris said the reason officers had trouble tracking down the origin of the 911 calls was because Gonzales was using a cellphone that was no longer in service but could still call 911. (info from

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Woman convicted for 10,000 phony 911 calls

A woman in Montreal, Canada who made 10,000 calls to 911 over a 15-month span because of her spite for police has been found guilty of public mischief. Marie-Eve Dean was convicted Tuesday as a judge refused a joint recommendation by the prosecution and defense that she get a suspended sentence to be served in the community.

Quebec court Judge Serge Boisvert said Dean is immature, irresponsible, has done nothing to correct her behavior and is a high risk to reoffend. He wants Dean to get psychiatric help before he sentences her on Dec. 17.

Between January, 2006, and April, 2007, Dean and an accomplice overwhelmed 911 operators and some days clogged the system so real emergency calls couldn't get through. Dean, accompanied by her mother and sister, gave television cameras the finger as she left the courthouse. (info from

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cop killed gunman after friend called 911 to report he was nuts

In Spring Hill, Florida, two men watched their friend Luis Guillen ride away on his bicycle, a gun in his hand and a lot on his mind. Unsure of how to handle the increasingly erratic Guillen, the men called 911.

Guillen seemed headed for trouble: he had pulled a gun on Joel Dulje, fired a bullet at the ground, smacked Mike Galdorisi across the face with the weapon and then fled into the darkness, his friends said. "He just snapped," Dulje said. "We didn't know what else to do."

A few minutes later, Dulje and Galdorisi heard gunshots several blocks away. They immediately knew their troubled friend had met a tragic end.

Guillen was shot and killed by Hernando County sheriff's deputy Lance Origon early Tuesday. Responding to a 911 call about 2:40AM, Origon and another deputy saw a man riding a bicycle who matched the description given by Dulje and Galdorisi.

Guillen refused orders from the two deputies to stop, then turned around and put his hand toward his waistband. Origon then fired a single shot at Guillen, who died at the scene.

Back at the scene of what the Sheriff's Office called a home invasion, Dulje said Guillen was a friend and former co-worker who had come over Monday night to talk about problems he was having with his roommates. Dulje said he invited Guillen to go out with him and his girlfriend, hoping his friend would relax after a few beers. Instead, Dulje said, the situation worsened.

"I think everything was just getting to him," Dulje said. "I know he was struggling really badly. Something was wrong with him. He was totally out of character." After going to a couple of nearby bars, Dulje said Guillen became increasingly despondent and erratic. Dulje confronted Guillen on his lawn and told him he would have to leave his home. That's when Guillen pulled out a handgun from a knapsack on his bicycle.

Another friend, Galdorisi, said he came from inside Dulje's home to break up the argument. Galdorisi stepped in front of the gun and dared Guillen to shoot him. Guillen then fired the gun at the ground, hit Galdorisi across the face with the weapon and took off on his bike. Dulje called 911.

"I had no idea that he had a pistol," Dulje said. "Every man has his breaking point, Joel," Galdorisi said.

State records show Guillen had several brushes with the law throughout the Tampa Bay area. He has been arrested at least seven times, including charges of domestic battery and criminal mischief. At the time of his death, Guillen was serving a two-year probation from Hillsborough County for carrying a concealed firearm. (info from Tampa Bay Online)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Student jailed for bogus 911 call

A high school student is in the Westchester County, New York jail where he's being held in lieu of $5,000 bail. He's charged with making a bogus 911 call last week, reporting a shooting in which the school resource officer had been hit.

The call that Dante Lawrence allegedly made from a classmate's cellphone Friday morning resulted in a lockdown of the Walter Panas High School in Cortlandt as more than a dozen state troopers and county police officers raced there, believing there was a shooting and that Trooper Philip Russo, the school resource officer, had been hit.

It didn't take police long to determine that the call was a prank when the student whose phone Lawrence allegedly used to make the call immediately came forward.

Police charged Lawrence with third-degree falsely reporting an incident, a misdemeanor. James VanDevelde, spokesman for the Lakeland school district declined to comment on what in-school punishment Lawrence could face. "It's not something we can discuss, because he has rights," he said. "But anything that would happen (in school) would take place after the courts handled the case." (info from The Journal-News)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cops tasered cable guy while calling 911

Frank Wozniak says he was just doing his job when he was attacked. While upgrading service for Cox Cable customers at 4:30AM in Litchfield Park, Arizona on September 10th, He was approached by a man and woman who said they were cops.

Wozniak says they were screaming and yelling, ordering him to the ground. He called 911 and that's when he says he was tasered. The 911 recording has the confrontation including Wozniak’s screams as he was tasered. The off-duty officers are heard on the tape yelling at Wozniak to roll over while he is demanding to see police identification. Wozniak is also heard saying he works for a cable television provider.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident that involved off-duty officers Cam Siewert and Delores Baumann. The report says Siewert was concerned about copper thefts. No charges have been filed in this case.

Cox officials said that Wozniak was scheduled to work in that area at that early time and had plenty of items with him that identified him as a utility worker, including a spotlight on his helmet, an orange shirt and orange cones. Officer Siewert says he never saw anything indicating Wozniak was a cable employee. As a contract worker, Wozniak’s red Dodge truck had no company markings on it.

Wozniak says his injuries led him to take time off from work. He has hired an attorney and says he'll seek damages. (info from KPNX TV)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Widow suing 911 over husband's murder

On October 13, 2006, Raymond S. Brown II of Prince George County, Maryland was awakened the middle of the night by the sound of a car alarm and saw someone hauling away his car on a flatbed truck. He called 911 to report the theft. The dispatcher questioned him about whether the car was being repossessed and told Brown he needed to verify that with the tow truck driver.

Brown, a record producer known as Scottie Beats, got into a second car to find out. He was shot to death as he approached the truck, which had stopped. The flatbed had been stolen and was being used by car thieves.

Brown’s widow filed a $5 million lawsuit against Vernon Herron, director of the County Office of Homeland Security, which oversees the 911 call center, for putting her husband in harm’s way.

Danielle Brown’s attorney, Gregory Lattimer, said it was the call center’s practice to screen car theft calls associated with tow trucks coming from predominantly black communities to determine the probability of a car being repossessed. “Instead of responding to a car theft call, they got into a query about whether the man had paid his car loan?” Lattimer said. “You have to ask yourself, ‘What is going on with the world?’ This is something that could have been easily prevented.”

Following Brown’s death, Herron’s office investigated the response and said in a news release that “the call was not handled properly.” As a result of the investigation, two 911 call takers were suspended for four days without pay and one received a written reprimand. County officials also approved a change to the existing law requiring tow truck operators to contact police prior to repossessing a vehicle.

Beyond the civil suit, police have made two arrests in Brown’s death. Neiman Marcus Edmonds was charged in April 2007 with first-degree murder, robbery and carjacking. He pleaded guilty to felony robbery and is awaiting sentencing.

On Jan. 30, police arrested Jamaal Garvin Alexis, believed to be the trigger man. Prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder, armed carjacking and other charges, and are seeking a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Alexis’ court date was postponed after a key witness for the prosecution was gunned down. (info from Maryland Daily Record)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Man jailed for trying to use 911 to call FBI

Kenneth Borders of Tampa Florida wanted to talk to the FBI on Tuesday night, so he called 911. However, the FBI can't be reached by calling 911.

Borders was told not to call 911 again unless there was an emergency. Borders called 911 two more times. After the third time, deputies went to his home and asked him to stop making calls. Borders voluntarily broke his phone, and then called again on a different phone.

After the fourth 911 call, deputies arrested him.

He was charged with making false 911 calls and was held in jail with bail set at $500. (info from Tampa Bay Online)