Butt-dialing mistake sends SWAT team to Winnetka school

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  1. cybercore

    cybercore New Member

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    Man sits on phone; wife calls out SWAT team

    Butt-dialing mistake sends SWAT team to Winnetka school - Chicago Tribune

    January 04, 2011


    Worried wife calls police after she thinks her husband is being held hostage


    In a spectacular misunderstanding sparked by an accidental cell phone call, a worried wife caused SWAT teams to swarm the Winnetka school where her husband works, officials said Tuesday.

    The wife received the disturbing, garbled call from her husband's phone Monday evening, Winnetka police said.

    "You know how when you sit on your phone when it's in your back pocket and it calls the last number that was dialed? His wife was the last number he'd dialed," said Winnetka police Chief Joseph De Lopez. "The conversation led her to believe there was someone holding him hostage."



    In the popular vernacular, it was a butt dial, the bane of many a chagrined cell phone user. This time, it led to a frantic 911 call from a wife. Soon, more than 30 gun-toting officers converged on Carleton Washburne School, which also houses the District 36 offices where the man works.

    "He was listening to music and he had, I don't know, hip-hop … or music like that, where there were lyrics that were gangster-like," explained Mark Friedman, interim co-superintendent of District 36. "So there were lyrics on the radio as he was driving home, and she listened to it and became concerned."

    Armed with automatic weapons and wearing bulletproof vests, SWAT team members circled the school about 5 p.m. Monday, searching for a reported gunman who might be holding a hostage. The all-clear sounded nearly three hours later, after the man was found safe at home by police.

    The district employee did not want to comment, Friedman said.

    "He's embarrassed," the superintendent said. "Who wouldn't be? He's taking it hard that it created such a response."

    About 500 seventh- and eighth-graders attend the middle school, but they had left for the day when the call was placed.

    The incident caused quite a stir in the usually quiet Winnetka neighborhood. The massive police presence interrupted a closed-door school board meeting, where directors were debating whom to hire as the next superintendent. Outside the building, a crowd of worried residents started to gather.

    Police officers were stationed near each entrance to the school and at a nearby bus stop. Those inside the building carried shields and guns and wore helmets with face shields.

    At one point three news media choppers hovered overhead.

    As the hours passed, the onlookers outside could see the officers as they entered various rooms. People trying to drop off kids for after-school Park District activities were waved away.

    Once the sweep was over, officers began coming out of the building, some still partially wearing riot gear, others carrying guns back to their cars.

    About 8 p.m., the police chief held a news conference to report there never was never a gunman, or a hostage.

    Putting a price tag on the resources spent on the night's excitement would be too difficult to estimate, De Lopez said, adding that no one would be charged since there was no intent to deceive police.

    The bright side: The SWAT team got a little real-time training, he said.

    "It was good practice," he said. "It's not the way we want to practice. We want to know when a situation isn't real."
     
  2. cybercore

    cybercore New Member

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