TWIN FALLS • Responding to a call about a fake shooting used resources that could have been used elsewhere, say city, county and state law enforcement.
On April 20 at about 5:25 p.m., Twin Falls emergency dispatchers got a frightening call. A person, calling through a deaf interpretation relay service, simply said “He shot my mom.”
On Friday, emergency dispatchers could be heard over police radio scanners saying the caller said a man had been drinking and was out in the hallway while the caller and his mother were hiding in a room.
Police received the name of a person they thought was the caller and matched it up with a Maurice Street address.
When police arrived at the house, officers blocked off side streets and got their shields and rifles out. Neighbors told police there was a family with a member who is deaf who lived nearby. Some even said they may have heard gunshots, said Twin Falls Police Capt. Matt Hicks.
When officers found no signs of a disturbance, Hicks said, they responded to two other locations, one on Honey Locust Lane and one on Gimlet Drive, that were associated with names similar to the one police were given.
When police discovered there were no other reports of shots being fired in the county, officers concluded the call was fake, Hicks said.
“All the information that was given to us turned out to be fraudulent,” he said.
The call was closed at 6:26 p.m., said Twin Falls city spokesman Joshua Palmer.
Palmer said 12 Twin Falls police units responded to the call, and another was used traffic control. Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Lori Stewart said one deputy responded to help with traffic control.
Sgt. Michael Wendler with the Idaho State Police said at least three ISP officers, including himself, responded to the call. Wendler said two officers were on the call for about 45 minutes and another assisted for about 90 minutes.
Officers broke off to different duties throughout the call to spread their resources in a situation that kept jumping around.
Wendler said he was glad there was no actual shooting but officers spent valuable time on the call that could have been used helping other people.
“We were fortunate that it happened when we had additional officers coming in for night shift,” Hicks said. “But when those type of things happen, you never have enough officers.”
Officers were following leads at several locations, and because of the nature of the call, more than one officer went to each location, Hicks said.
With so many officers out looking for a potential shooter and victim, Hicks said, other people who are calling 911 may have had a delay in police response.
Police detectives are working to subpoena the relay company that was assisting dispatchers for information on where the call came from, Hicks said. Once detectives get that information, they hope to be able to track down the caller and press charges.
Hicks said the caller could be charged with making a fraudulent 911 call, interfering with police or filing a false report. Hicks said police could pursue civil charges to recoup the cost of police resources.