Hoax leaves emergency responders in scrambles

By: Megan Palera

A prank took quite a toll on emergency responders on Tuesday. It all happened on NW 54th Street. The entire area was blocked off with more than a dozen law enforcement and fire vehicles all because that caller reported a shooting at a house just up the street.

Watching men in bullet proof vests take over this normally quiet neighborhood had residents on high alert.

“Some cop got out of his car and blocked off the street and told me to not get out and not to go over there and he had his gun out in his and and you know when you see something like that, something serious is going on,” said Creighton Northup, a witness.

The call was serious, reports that a woman was shot inside a house and a child may have been involved. The caller also reported that a man with a gas can was at the house.

L.P.D. immediately took action. Arnold Elementary School was put on lock down. Residents were told to get back inside their homes, but when police entered the house on NW 54th, no one was there.

“In my 23 years on the force, this is the worst prank I've been a part of,” said Captain Martin Fehringer.

The woman who lives there returned shortly after law enforcement realized it was a hoax. She, like everyone else, was shaken up. The search then turned to tracking down the prank caller who police think is a man that had a previous relationship with the woman.

As the State Patrol helicopter circled the area, police searched a house on NW 7th and another in Lancaster County that they believed the prank caller had ties to, but no suspect.

Meanwhile, neighbors sit in shock wondering who would ever pull a prank like this, “I realize there are some really dumb people out there in the world, but things like that– prank calls about fires and shots fired to the cops– you don't do that kind of stuff. That's wrong.”

Police think they know who the prank caller is but won't reveal his name. He has not been taken into custody. If police do track him down, he will be charged with a very serious crime for interfering with the 911 system.