Monday, March 31, 2008

Man called 911 because he liked to watch cops.

In early January, a Chicago man was charged with making two phony 911 calls -- reporting a bomb at a Des Plaines factory and an armed robbery in progress at a nearby restaurant.

Branden Dixon was charged with two counts of felony disorderly conduct. Police said he made the calls on his cellphone because he wanted to watch officers respond to emergencies.

The first of the 911 calls was made on Dec. 14 as Dixon was on his way to work. The second call was on Dec. 28, reporting an armed robbery at a restaurant across the street from the factory where he works. (info from Chicago Tribune)

Friday, March 28, 2008

SWATter hoaxer gets three years in jail

A computer hacker was sentenced to three years in prison for placing a phony 911 call that led a SWAT team to storm a family home at gunpoint. It marked the first prosecution in Orange County, California for a prank known as "swatting" that involves sending SWAT teams on wild goose chases, said county district attorney's spokeswoman Farrah Emami on Thursday.

Randal T. Ellis pleaded guilty Wednesday to five felony counts, including computer access and fraud, false imprisonment by violence and falsely reporting a crime. He was given prison time and ordered to pay $14,765 in restitution, most of which will go to the county Sheriff's Department.

Ellis, of Mukilteo, Washington, placed a 911 call last March, at first claiming to report a drug overdose and then alleging a possible murder. Prosecutors said he hacked the 911 system and transmitted phony information that appeared to show he was calling from a Lake Forest home. A sheriff's SWAT team accompanied by police dogs and a helicopter descended on the home, where a couple and their two toddlers were sleeping, Emami said.

Doug Bates, awakened by a noise, thought there were prowlers outside and grabbed a kitchen knife. When he checked the backyard, he found SWAT team deputies pointing assault rifles at him. Bates and his wife were handcuffed until authorities determined the call was a hoax.

"That very easily could have turned deadly," Emami said. Ellis was arrested last October and had remained jailed since then. (Info from the Associated Press)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

911 pranks send cops to three McDonald's

Calls about armed robberies Wednesday at several McDonald's restaurants in central Iowa were hoaxes, police said.

Ames police received three 911 calls before lunch of a possible armed robbery at the McDonald's in Ames. That was followed by two calls making similar claims at McDonald's in Boone and Marshalltown.

The caller told dispatchers he saw a group of possibly three or four men wearing masks walking into the McDonald's carrying guns. Police immediately responded to the three locations, but found nothing out of the ordinary.

It's not clear where the calls came from, but it does not appear the calls were made by anyone inside the restaurant. Police believe the same person made all three calls.

One of the calls that came into Ames police was transferred to officers in Boone. They are conducting a similar investigation, but said at this point it's too soon to tell if this was someone playing a prank or part of a larger hoax. Police are looking into the possibility these calls may be part of a hoax called "swatting," which is an attempt to trick 911 operators to dispatch an emergency response team. (info from KCCI TV)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Man called 911 after microwaving his hand

An Idaho man who believed he bore the "mark of the beast" used a circular saw to cut off one hand, then he cooked it in his microwave oven and used his remaining hand to dial 911 for help.

The man, in his mid-20s, was calm when Kootenai County sheriff's deputies arrived at his home in January. He was held in protective custody in the mental health unit of Kootenai Medical Center.

"It had been somewhat cooked by the time the deputy arrived," sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger said. "He put a tourniquet on his arm before, so he didn't bleed to death. It was not immediately clear whether the man has a history of mental illness.

The Book of Revelation in the New Testament contains a passage in which an angel is quoted as saying: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink the wine of God's fury." The book of Matthew says: "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." (info from The Associated Press)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Some hospitals call 911 for medical help

In medical emergencies, many doctor-run specialty hospitals call 911 for help to stabilize patients, causing delays that can put patients at risk, says a new government report prompted by the deaths of two specialty hospital patients after elective surgeries.

In both cases, complications arose when no doctor was on duty, and the hospitals called 911.

To assess the ability of such hospitals to manage medical emergencies, the Office of the Inspector General for the Health and Human Services Department reviewed patient care and safety at 109 doctor-owned specialty hospitals it identified.

Included were 33 in Texas, which has the nation's highest concentration of the hospitals, according to the report. About half of the hospitals examined didn't have an emergency department. Of those that did, more than half had only one bed for emergency patients. (info from Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Drunken woman driver called 911
to report herself

In January, a woman in Wisconsin was able to give a detailed description of a suspected drunken driver and the suspect's vehicle to a sheriff's dispatcher, because she was calling from that vehicle and she was driving it.

The woman's boyfriend in the passenger seat suggested she call 911 to report her own drunken driving. He wasn't driving because he was too drunk.

The call came in on the Dodge County 911 line as a hang-up call from a cellphone. Dispatchers used a reverse 911 directory and called the phone, which was answered by a woman who identified herself as Patricia Dykstra. She said her boyfriend made her call, because "somebody seems to think I can't drive home straight." When the dispatcher asked her why, she said, "He seems to think I 'm too intoxicated to drive."

During a relatively pleasant conversation with the dispatcher, Dykstra gave her name, location and vehicle description before saying she should probably hang up because "I don't like being on the phone while driving."

Asked by the dispatcher if she had too much to drink, she said "I don't think so, ma'am." She said she was almost home and gave the intersection. Deputies went to her home, where Dykstra met them on the porch. She had consumed a six-pack of beer, she said, and her boyfriend a 12-pack. She was ticketed for drunken driving, her first offense. (info from Wisconsin State Journal)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Deputies killed and injured after false 911 call.
Sheriff blames bad road conditions

Last summer, a Louisiana Sheriff's Office deputy was killed and another deputy was injured when their car ran off the road while they were responding to a false report of a body on a highway.

About two hours after they began their shifts, deputies Hilery A. Mayo Jr. and Mark Bott responded to a call about a body on Louisiana 21 north of Abita Springs. But as Mayo and Bott, who was training under Mayo, were driving, the car swerved off the left side of the road and landed in a ditch and hit a tree.

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain said news of the accident went out over the officers' radio "in a matter of seconds," but a deputy who responded to the scene was not able to save Mayo.

The Coroner's Office pronounced Mayo dead at the scene. Medics airlifted Bott to a hospital for surgery on his and shoulder. Both deputies were wearing seat belts. The vehicle had air bags, but Mayo's seat belt broke.

Strain said the call about the body in the road was unsupported and the Sheriff's Office found nothing. Apparently, the caller saw what looked like a body, but the Sheriff's Office will investigate whether the call was a prank or simply a mistake. The caller's identity is not known, he said.

Although it was not known how fast the car was traveling, Strain said Louisiana 21 is a heavily traveled road and anyone lying on it would be in grave danger. That would have made the deputies want to get to the scene as quickly as possible.

Strain said Mayo was an excellent driver, and he blamed the accident on the parish's highway system. "Every state highway in Tammany is deemed substandard by the state's own description," he said. "One of my deputies has suffered from a substandard highway, as so many families have week after week in this parish." (info from New Orleans Times-Picayune)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

911 dispatcher gets jail time for helping robbers

Amanda Nicole Brooks, a 911 dispatcher in Georgia, pleaded guilty last week to burglary and furnishing false statements to law enforcement. She was sentenced to two years in jail for tipping off robbery gang that it was safe to rob a store last August. “She had let them know that the police were not up there at that moment,” Assistant District Attorney Brian McDaniel said.

Her alleged boyfriend, Jason Lee Baird and four others were indicted for the robberies. Suspects were caught in the act of breaking into a store and led lawmen on a high-speed chase through Mitchell and Dougherty counties, wrecked a car and fled on foot. Law enforcement found Baird’s driver’s license and later arrested him, and the others, one oof whom who filed a false stolen vehicle report after learning Baird allegedly crashed her Corolla during the chase.

Brooks, according to her former boss 911 Director Theresa Warburg, was a stellar employee until she struck up a relationship with Baird. Warburg and Brooks’ coworkers suspected she was being abused, Warburg said. (info from the Moultrie Observer)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Man made 2000 fake 911 calls

Over and over and over again, a man calling himself "Nomar" has phoned the 911 emergency dispatch center in Vallejo, California. He sounds desperate, often slurring his speech as he reports that he has overdosed on drugs, engaged in a suicide try, or been involved in a serious traffic accident.

But he doesn't need help - at least not the kind he asks for.

The man is a serial crank caller, police say, and over the past few months he has phoned in some 2,000 alleged emergencies to the dispatch center run by the California Highway Patrol, tying up lines and summoning cops and firefighters to locations where they find no one to help or rescue.

Authorities want to prosecute him but can't find him. They only know that he uses a phone from a group that distributed them to the homeless, that he typically calls from San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood, and that he often pretends to be suffering in Vallejo.

Valuable time is spent on "Nomar" - who on Friday morning reported that would-be robbers were following him - rather than on callers with real emergencies. Police officers and firefighters speed through town using their lights and sirens, putting themselves and others at risk.

Police are hoping someone will come forward to identify the caller, who has also referred to himself as "Willie Davis" and "Jeff" and "David" and "Derek." He often reports that he is overdosing on "heron," pronouncing the drug like the great blue bird. He displays a familiarity with Vallejo streets.

Dispatchers have come to recognize the man's relatively high-pitched voice and, when they do, they challenge him on the veracity of his reports. Once he responded, "Ha, ha, you'll never catch me."

The man's location cannot be pinpointed precisely, as it could be if his phone featured a Global Positioning System receiver. The calls cannot be traced to an account because the phone does not have a service carrier and generates no bill. Calls to 911 are free. (info from San Francisco Chronicle)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jail term for accidental 911 call

An accidental call to 911 in Ontario, Canada landed a man in jail.

Geoffrey Hyde was convicted in November of assaulting his girlfriend and was placed on 18 months probation, prohibiting him from contacting the girlfriend. Despite the court order, Hyde was at his former girlfriend’s house on February 26. While attempting to program his cellphone, the man accidentally dialed 911.

The man hung up when the call was answered but a 911 operator called him back. During the conversation, the conditions of the man's probation order were revealed and police were dispatched.

Hyde has spent 17 days in pre-sentence custody. Justice Robert Graydon found time-served was sufficient. "You go back to her apartment and you’re going to end up back in custody," Graydon warned. (info from the Peterborough Examiner)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Wackiest call in 30 years!

911 dispatchers in Gaston County, North Carolina received a dozen calls from one house in the past year, but none like the one Wednesday night. And, Communications Director Lloyd Moskowitz said in three decades of receiving calls in New York and Gaston County he has never heard a call like the call allegedly placed by Joshua Hightower. Moskowitz said that in the frightening, phony call, Hightower reported that armed men dragged his father away from their house.

In the call Hightower claimed men came out of the shadows. In one exchange the operator asked where his father was and Hightower responded, "I have no clue. It's like they drug him up through the yard and they have guns. It might sound crazy, but it looked like they tried to hang my dad."

The call was interrupted, but the operator tried repeatedly to call back, but couldn't get a connection until Hightower called back. The operator instructed Hightower to stay on the line with her, and then he made more stunning comments.

"I swear to God there are just like five more guys that just came up out of the shadows and I swear to God I, I don't know what to do. I got to go to my dad. I mean y’all please hurry," he said.

Five police cars were sent, but when they arrived there were no armed men and no signs that any one else had been near the house. Police said Joshua Hightower was intoxicated. His father drove up minutes later.

There have been a dozen calls from the house in the past year. Half of those were police-related calls involving Joshua Hightower. He has been charged with misuse of the 911 system and filing a false police report. Both are misdemeanor crimes punishable by up to 60 days in jail for each count. (info & photo from WSOC TV)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Heather Locklear update: 911 suicide call came from man who said he was her doc

Authorities have released a recording of the 911 call that sent them to actress Heather Locklear’s house last Saturday over fears she was "suicidal."

A man, believed to be Locklear’s doctor, who is not identified by name on the 911 tape, tells a dispatcher that he is worried about a patient.

"I have a patient and I have a feeling she is suicidal," the man who identified himself during the call as a medical doctor, told the dispatcher. "I would want someone to go [to her home]."

The doctor said he did not have her address, but the dispatcher was able to look up her location by reversing her phone number.

"What we’re gonna do is we’re gonna go out," the dispatcher tells the doctor.

"We’ll get somebody on the way out there and figure out what we can do, what’s going on," he later added.

The doctor then asked if someone can "kindly call me back and let me know the status afterward."

The dispatcher tells the doctor he will, to which the doctor responds, "I will appreciate that. That way I’ll know someone has gone there and she’s OK."

Authorities did not intervene after arriving at the actresses’ residence. (info from People magazine)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

911 office sex toy party led to firing

They look like pictures of people having a good time.

The problem is, according to Montgomery County, Pennsylvania officials, the pictures were taken inside the 911 call center during a holiday gift exchange, and some of the gifts handed out were adult toys and alcohol. The December party came to light after pictures were posted on the Internet.

Some of the partygoers posed with gag gifts such as adult toys, liquor and boxes of beer. "I think they're extremely embarrassing. We're mortified," Montgomery County Director of Communications John Corcoran said.

County officials said the photos were taken Dec. 22 during working hours inside the 911 call center. The county is not identifying any of the workers but one man, Shaun P. Brown, a shift supervisor, has been fired.

"They were not drinking. They were all very consistent on that, that there was no alcohol consumed in the emergency operations center that night or on any other night," Corcoran said.

Of the more than 700 calls that came into the 911 center, less than half were emergencies. Officials said they are going over every call, but at this point they don't believe any call was mishandled.

Sixteen workers were on duty on the overnight shift of Dec. 22. According to county officials, six are shown in the photos that ended up online. "The depictions could lead someone to conclude that alcohol was being consumed, and that undermines public confidence in the public safety system. That's extremely serious, and we take it very seriously, and we immediately had to establish that that didn't actually occur" Corcoran said.

County officials said no crime was committed, but the workers did violate county policy that states no alcohol, even sealed bottles, is to be on county property. They said the taking of the pictures and then posting them on the Internet did not help matters.

In addition to the firing of one supervisor, county officials said those in the photos can expect disciplinary action. They are investigating who brought the alcohol to the party. (info & photo from

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Man arrested for calling 911 for ride home -- twice

A mile from home, Carmelino Mendez only needed a favor. Instead he got a trip to the Immokalee Jail Center in Florida after Collier County sheriff’s deputies say he twice called 911 asking for a ride.

Mendez was charged with misuse of the 911 system.

At 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 16, Mendez called 911 and asked for a ride home. The dispatcher explained that 911 is only for emergencies, and that Mendez needed to call a taxi. Three minutes later Mendez again called 911 asking for a ride.

A deputy located Mendez and asked what his emergency was. "Nothing," Mendez said. "I just need a ride home and I don’t feel like walking, is too far away."

He then added "I know they told me 911 is just for emergencies, but I know you can do me a favor and give a ride home." (info & photo from Naples Daily News)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fake 911 call claimed Heather Locklear suicide attempt

The Ventura County, California Fire Department and two paramedic units responded Saturday night to a 911 call made by someone reporting a “suicide attempt” by actress Heather Locklear, only to find the Melrose Place star in good health at her home in Thousand Oaks.

Capt. Barry Parker of the Fire Department said that the call did not originate from her home.

After speaking with Locklear, emergency personnel left the house within 10 minutes, and there was no need to take her on a "5150 hold", California legal code for professional staff taking involuntary psychiatric custody of a person deemed mentally unstable.

There is no word yet on whether there are any clues as to who made the phone call and whether it was sincere or intended as a prank. (info from Celebrity Cafe)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Woman called 911 after losing money in drug deal

Police in Georgia arrested Sada Chisholm Tuesday night, after she falsely reported an armed robbery.

According to Savannah-Chatham police, Chisholm lost $1,500 in a drug deal, then called 911 and filed a written report with police claiming she'd been robbed at gunpoint. She claimed to have gotten the cash after cashing a check at a liquor store. Detectives talked with the clerk who told them the store had not cashed any checks for her.

She's charged with filing false statements, criminal trespass, and reckless conduct. She faces additional charges from an unrelated fight after police found a handgun in her car.

Filing a false report with police is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $1000 fine. However, anyone convicted of making false statements during the course of an investigation could face felony charges, which carry a penalty up to five years in prison. (info & photo from WTOC TV)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Child is tormenting 911 center

The Sheriff's Department in Noble County, Indiana is asking for help identifying a prank caller. The 911 dispatch center has gotten over 150 prank calls in under three days, presumably by the same person.

Sheriff Gary Leatherman assumes the caller is a boy of grade-school age. Sometimes the boy says his name is Bobby, other times he says he is Justin. The boy yells profanities and threats at the dispatchers.

Police are unable to trace the calls because they are coming from an out-of-service phone that can call only 911. Because of this, police are only able to trace it to a cellphone tower in Kendallville, but it is not possible to find the caller's exact location.

Leatherman is asking parents in the Kendallville area to make sure their children are not playing with cellphones. He said the department is not looking to press charges, he just wants the calls to stop because they are holding up a 911 line that should be used for legitimate calls. (photo & info from News Channel 15 WANE TV)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Man called 911 when wife shot TV

A woman in Washington Township, Michigan, was angry because her husband wanted her to turn up the heat and pulled out a gun and shot their flat-screen TV while he cowered behind a pillow.

Joseph Grucz called 911 in late January from their basement, and said, "My wife's got a gun. She's shooting at me." He told the operator that his wife Cheryl Grucz was angry because he wanted the heat turned up. She fired a round while he hid his head in a pillow, striking the plasma TV, then went upstairs.

"She's all excited about it because she's so cheap," the husband said. The wife, who had picked up another phone, told the operator she wanted to tell her side.

"I'm not going to hurt him. He has pushed me over the edge, that was all," Cheryl Grucz said, "He has had a stroke, and he's taking it all out on me."

"No I'm not," her husband said.

"Yes, he is," she told the dispatcher.

Cheryl Grucz was arraigned on a charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, with a potential penalty of 10 years in prison. She also faces a felony firearms charge. The judge also ordered her to enroll in a domestic violence counseling program. (info from The Associated Press)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Man arrested for non-emergency call to 911
and drug possession

Claiming to possess vital information for undercover detectives, career criminal John Hunter wanted police to pay him a visit -- so he dialed 911 in late January to report two armed men selling drugs on South Beach in Miami.

Officers did not appreciate his phone call.

Miami Beach police arrested Hunter after getting an emergency call reporting "two black males carrying firearms and selling drugs."

Officers rushed to the reported location, but instead of the gunmen, they found Hunter, a felon with a string of convictions including drugs and theft.

"I called in the guns because I have important information for undercover officers," he told a police officer. Hunter's troubles didn't stop with the bogus call. He had one packet of suspected cocaine, one of suspected marijuana and 119 more packets of other suspected drugs.

Hunter "caused numerous officers to divert from other calls for service . . .due to the nature of the call," and faces one count of misuse of the 911 system, as well as four drug charges. (info and photo from Miami Herald)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Man jailed for calling 911 about IRS

Douglas J. Smoot was held in the Madison County Jail in Indiana on $5,000 bond on charges of intimidation and harassment, after he repeatedly called a police dispatcher to complain about the Internal Revenue Service.

According to police, Smoot called the emergency center and began cursing at dispatcher James Janes, calling him names and complaining about the IRS.

Officer R.S. Richwine called Smoot and told him not to call the dispatch center unless he needed police help. Smoot threatened to hurt Richwine. After that call ended, Smoot called Janes back and threatened to hurt him.

Officers then drove to Smoot’s home, and when they tried patting him down to see if he had any weapons, he struck Richwine. Smoot was then taken into custody. Magistrate Stephen Clase arraigned Smoot on the intimidation and harassment charges and ordered him to be taken for treatment for his mental health issues, and then to be brought back to the jail. (info from Anderson IN Herald Bulletin)