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