November 6, 2015

Mother Jones has the 911 call that tried to warn of the shooter in Colorado Springs:

In the first call, placed at 8:45 a.m. on October 31, resident Naomi Bettis told a dispatcher that she saw a man, later identified as 33-year-old Noah Harpham, walking around a building with a broken window across the street from her house. She said that he was carrying a black rifle and gasoline cans, and she described him as suspicious and "scary" at several points during the six-minute-long call. At one point she told the dispatcher that the man was going in and out of an upstairs apartment in the building. "It may be the guy that lives upstairs because he ran right up there, but he still shouldn't be holding a gun," Bettis said.

"Well it is an open carry state, so he can have a weapon with him or walking around with it," the dispatcher responded. "But of course having those gas cans, it does seem pretty suspicious so we're going to keep the call going for that." Bettis clearly sounded agitated during parts of the call: "I went out there to get in my Jeep," she said, "and I'm scared to death." When asked by the dispatcher whether anyone's life was in imminent danger, however, she answered no. "I just hope that this is, you know, not as bad as it is," Bettis said.

If only she'd said "black." If she'd said he was a black man, I'll bet the entire SWAT team would have showed up and shot him dead.

Bettis later told the Washington Post that she was put off by the dispatcher's comments regarding the state's open carry law, as if the dispatcher "didn't believe me." On Tuesday, Lt. Catherine Buckley of the Colorado Springs PD told Mother Jones that Bettis' first 911 call wasn't treated as "the highest priority call for service." In its statement released Wednesday, the department said the call was originally treated as a "priority 3" call, which "represents in-progress incidents involving property." One minute into the call, the incident was upgraded to a "priority 2" call, and changed to a possible burglary in progress, according to the statement. The department's priority scale has six levels, with "priority 1" being the most urgent.

At the time of the first call, all officers in the area were on other calls, according to the department's statement. Then, one officer who became available during the call was instead dispatched to a disturbance in progress at a senior residential facility: "The call for service [near Bettis] was the same priority level as the disturbance; however, the disturbance at the senior center represented a threat to human life, while [Bettis’ call] (a possible burglary-in-progress) was at the time considered a threat to property."

They didn't pay any attention to her until someone was already dead. (Listen to audio at the top of the post.)

The Colorado Springs PD says everything was done according to "protocol," so there you go. They released this:

The department also released a 2011 training document with respect to how it handles the open carry issue:

"The mere act of openly carrying a gun in a non-threatening manner is not automatically to be considered suspicious behavior. Therefore, if we get a call from a citizen about a person who has a firearm in plain sight and they are not acting in a suspicious manner, they have not brandished it, discharged it, or violated any of the previous conditions; CSPD will not respond."

Maybe I'm just the suspicious kind, but it seems to me that gun + gasoline cans indicates some real trouble brewing. But what do I know? I live in an East Coast urban hellhole, where we expect that kind of thing.

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