COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The Colorado Springs Police Department said Wednesday that dispatchers responded in accordance with its policies and protocols during 911 calls made Saturday morning before a man went on a shooting spree that left three people dead.
The department has come under national scrutiny after a woman called 911 to report a suspicious man with a gun on Halloween morning. Police were sent to a different call first. Minutes later, the gunman killed three people.
“There’s a guy walking around with like two cans of gasoline or something, two small cans and a big like rifle,” the caller told 911 at 8:45 a.m.
The dispatcher asked the woman if anyone was in immediate danger. The woman said she did not think so.
“I don’t know if it’s a fake gun, a BB gun, but it looks pretty scary,” she told the dispatcher. “It may be the guy that lives upstairs because he ran right up there, but still he shouldn’t have a gun.”
The 911 operator responded, “Well, it is an open carry state so he can have a weapon with him or walking around with it.”
The dispatch operator classified the call as a possible robbery in progress and told the woman that officers would respond as soon as possible.
In a news release, police said there was an available officer, but that officer was sent to a different call first. Both calls were the same priority level.
But the other call had a potential threat to human life. At the time, the call about the gun was classified as a threat to property. Eleven minutes after the initial 911 call, the same woman called again.
“I just called a few minutes ago and the guy came back out. He fired a gun at somebody. He’s laying on the street dead,” the woman told the dispatch operator through tears.
Andrew Myers, an Iraq War veteran, was shot and killed while riding his bicycle. The gunman continued up the street, firing rounds at two women on the front porch of a sober living home. Christy Galella and Jennifer Vasquez also died.
Now there are a lot of question about the way dispatch handled the calls. On social media, people asked if police missed an opportunity to save lives. In the news release, the department said it stands by its actions.
“Upon review of the 911 audio from the initial call for service the ERT responded in accordance with both the Colorado Springs Police Department policy and national protocols," the news release read.
Requests for further comment were denied Wednesday.