Wednesday, November 4, 2015

CSPD explains 911 call in multiple shooting deaths

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 4:58 PM

click to enlarge The shooter, Noah Harpham, lived in the upstairs apartment in this house. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • The shooter, Noah Harpham, lived in the upstairs apartment in this house.
Four days after Noah Harpham shot and killed three people in downtown Colorado Springs, the Colorado Springs Police Department has named the four officers involved in the subsequent shootout that killed Harpham and has “acknowledge[d] the victims."

Police Chief Pete Carey has yet to speak to the community via news conference about what is possibly the worst multiple shooting the city has seen. But in a news release, he "commends" the actions taken by dispatchers, police, fire and EMS personnel on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 31.

The release also explains that the initial 911 call regarding Harpham — reporting a “suspicious male walking into a building carrying gasoline cans and a rifle” on Prospect Street — was ultimately handled as a Priority 2 call, typical for a critical situation "with potentially dangerous circumstances but no apparent imminent life threat."

That call was received at 8:45 a.m. According to the release, no officers were available to respond. When an officer became available about one minute later, he responded to a different Priority 2 call, at a senior residential facility.

Ten minutes later, the woman who initially called to report Harpham again called 911 — this time to report that Harpham had shot the man we now know was Andrew Myers. 

It wasn't until 8:57 a.m. that all police officers available responded.

Here’s the release in full:

The Colorado Springs Police Department would like to acknowledge the victims in the October 31, 2015 shooting, Andrew Myers, Christina Baccus-Gallela, and Jennifer Vasquez, and their families, after last weekend’s tragic events. Our condolences, thoughts, and prayers are with you and our community.

The four Colorado Springs Police Department Officers who fired shots on Saturday are:
• Patrol Training Officer R. Scott Hallas who was hired on August 1, 2001 and his partner Officer Charles (Chip) Surratt who was hired on March 16, 2015. Officer Surratt was riding with Officer Hallas as part of his field training.
• Patrol Training Officer Edward Crofoot who was hired on January 30, 2008 and his partner Officer Matthew Anderson who was hired on March 16, 2015. Officer Anderson was riding with Officer Crofoot as part of his field training.

The Police Department would like to acknowledge that these events have had a profound effect on the greater Colorado Springs community. Anyone in need of services, including crisis counseling, can contact Aspen Pointe 24-hours per day on its crisis line at 844-493-8255, a local crisis counseling organization and the Pikes Peak United Way is available to assist at 211.

The initial call did result in a call for service at a Priority 2 level, which is typical for a situation classified as critical “with potentially dangerous circumstance but no apparent imminent life threat.” Before an officer could be dispatched to the initial call, the reporting party called back to report shots fired, at which time, all available officers citywide were dispatched.

Additionally, this release is designed to provide some clarification regarding the original call for service received by the Colorado Springs Emergency Communications Center. The first call for service was a 911 call at 8:45:40 AM on October 31, 2015 for the 200 block of North Prospect Street. This call reported a suspicious male walking into a building carrying gasoline cans and a rifle.

The emergency response technician (ERT) or 911 call-taker created a call for service of a suspicious person. The call for service type started as a priority 3. After speaking with the reporting party for one minute, the ERT increased this to a priority 2 and changed it to a possible burglary in progress call. The change in call type occurred at 8:46 AM. The ERT stayed on the phone with the caller for over two minutes. The ERT acknowledged that Colorado is an open carry state but stated we (the police department) would keep the call going because the behavior of the person with the gas cans seemed suspicious.

When the call for service was received, it was immediately routed to a public safety dispatcher (PSD). This call was in the Gold Hill Patrol Division. All of the officers in the division were engaged on other calls for service when this call was initiated. At 8:47 AM, an officer from the Gold Hill Division cleared the call for service which he was attending. The PSD dispatched this officer to an in-progress disturbance occurring at a senior residential facility. The call for service on North Prospect Street was the same priority level as the disturbance; however, the disturbance at the senior center represented a threat to human life, while the Prospect call ( a possible burglary in-progress) was at the time considered a threat to property.

At 8:55:47 AM the initial reporting party called 911 a second time and relayed that the man had now shot a victim, a male on a bicycle. At 8:56 AM the PSD request any available officers to clear for possible shots fired. At 8:57 AM the PSD requested available units for a reported shooting and officers were immediately dispatched from other patrol divisions. During the second call with the reporting party, an ambulance was also immediately dispatched.

The investigation has revealed that the suspect walked northbound on Prospect Street and then westbound on Platte Avenue. In front of a home in the 500 block of East Platte Avenue, the suspect shot two more victims.
While on the telephone with the ERT the reporting party stated she heard more shots fired at 8:58 AM. At 9:00 AM the reporting party stated she heard another shot. During the call the reporting party indicated she saw the lights from responding police vehicles.

At 9:00:41 AM the suspect was on Platte Avenue approaching the Taco Bell at Platte Avenue and Wahsatch Street.

The two initial calls to 911 are available at Coloradosprings.gov/cases and on the Colorado Springs City website linked under the police department and cases of interest.

An explanation of the call priorities and a bulletin from the Colorado Springs Police Department Communications Center on “Open Carry” are also posted online and included as an attachment to this release.

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.

Colorado Springs Police Department Chief Peter Carey commends the actions of the Emergency Communications Center employees, the responding police, fire, and EMS personnel, “They disregarded their own safety in order to safe guard the community as great personal risk”. 
Here's the calls for service policy:

Meantime, the Sheriff's Office issued this statement:

November 4, 2015 [4:30 PM]

Sheriff’s Office provides update on Officer Involved Shooting

On Saturday, October 31, 2015, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Deadly Force Investigation Team (DFIT) was notified to respond to the area of Platte Avenue and Wahsatch Avenue, in Colorado Springs, with regard to an officer involved shooting. As part of the Sheriff’s Office ongoing investigation the following information has been obtained:

As of November 3, 2015, the Sheriff’s Office DFIT has interviewed more than 20 witnesses who were in the area at the time of the officer involved portion of the incident, several of whom witnessed parts of the incident directly. In addition, the four law enforcement officers who returned fire, other officers on scene and medical personal have also been interviewed.

Based on video evidence, physical evidence at the scene, and interviews, the preliminary information indicates that:

When the first members of the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) arrived, Harpham was standing near the center median of Platte Avenue and Wahsatch Avenue on the south side of the roadway. He was armed with a pistol in one hand and a rifle in the other hand. He was given commands to drop his guns. He refused and immediately began firing at police. A CSPD car was struck in the front windshield.

Harpham began to move from the center of the roadway south towards Wendy’s while firing in rapid succession towards police. Four officers from the Colorado Springs Police Department returned fire, striking Harpham once with a fatal round. It was determined that Harpham was armed with an AR15 rife, a .357 revolver, and a 9mm semi-automatic pistol.

The District Attorney’s Office will review findings for filing determination.

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