Jul 28, 2014

Police Investigate Crank Call About Intruder Inside Middle School

Oak Lawn police say call about gunman inside middle school could have been a ruse to draw attention away from a burglary.

Police Investigate Crank Call About Intruder Inside Middle School

Oak Lawn Police are still trying to determine if a crank call made to the 911 dispatch center about a gunman inside a school was an attempt to district police from a burglary in progress.

Around 1:28 p.m. Jan. 30, an untraceable 911 call was placed to Oak Lawn’s emergency dispatch center reporting a “gunman at Oak Lawn middle school.” The male caller promptly hung up after making the call, reports said.

Officers set up a perimeter outside of Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School at 5345 W. 99th St., while police contacted the school. Staff were unaware of any problems inside the building and immediately instituted a school lockdown where students and staff “sheltered in place.”

Some officers were already inside of the building for pre-scheduled drug education classes.

Eight teams of two officers entered the school, while others maintained the perimeter outside.

Police searched the entire school building but did not find a gunman or intruder. Nothing suspicious was located outside the school, reports said.

The assistant principal told police there had not been any recent student disciplinary problems and had no further information about any students who would have made such a call. The school ended the lockdown after 20 minutes and normal school activities resumed.

According to the police report,  copy of the 911 call was recorded to CD and turned over to investigators. Investigators were able to listen to the original call again, in which a male caller states: “Yes, I wanted to report a gunman at ‘Oak Lawn middle school,’” before hanging up.

As a precaution, police were also sent to Simmons Middle School at 6450 W. 95th St. Police searched the premises there and did not find anything suspicious. Simmons was on lockdown for approximately ten minutes.

At 1:33 p.m., the 911 emergency center received an alarm notification in the 10300 block of South Keeler Avenue, several miles away from both public middle schools.

Police said the call turned out to be a bonafide burglary.

Asked if officers were dispatched to the wrong middle school, Div. Chief Michael Kaufmann said that police went to Simmons as a precautionary measure.

“Further scrutiny of the call revealed ambiguity regarding which school was referenced,” Kaufmann said in an email.

Kaufmann also said that an individual who police think made the call was in custody in another town for unrelated crime.

No charges have been filed at this time for the Oak Lawn cases and police had no futher comment.

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