Chilling 911 call earns award

04/15/2014 5:27 PM

04/15/2014 5:27 PM

The caller huddled in a laundry room, whispering desperately to the 911 call center.

A man who had moments before been pounding and hurling himself at her front door was now in the house.

On the phone, Johnson County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Lang kept talking to the woman, reassuring her that officers were on the way and keeping tabs on the handgun she had picked up to defend herself.

“You still have the gun with you?” he asked.

“I do,” was the woman’s barely audible response.

And then a different, chilling voice: “Hello.”

It was the intruder, on the extension the woman had put down when she left for her hiding place.

What happened next has earned Master Deputy Jeff Lang recognition this week from the Mid-America Regional Council. Lang and other emergency call takers and dispatchers were cited for their work as part of National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week.

Lang, a 26-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, began talking to the intruder, eventually convincing him to surrender without incident.

Certain specifics of the incident were withheld to protect the woman’s identity and the pending court case. But according to Johnson County Sheriff’s officials and a 12-minute redacted 911 tape, it happened like this:

On Sept. 30, 2013, a woman just returning to her Olathe home noticed a taxi dropping off a man. She suspected the man was someone who’d been stalking her daughter, who is 31 and lives out of state.

The man had known her daughter since she was a cheerleader in eighth grade, the caller said. Even though the daughter had moved, the man still sent mail to her old address.

The woman fled into the house and called 911 from her kitchen. As she spoke, the intruder could be heard repeatedly ringing the doorbell and then pounding on the front and back door.

At one point, the woman changed to a different extension of her landline phone and picked up her gun, for which she has a concealed carry permit, sheriff’s officials said. Then she headed to the laundry room behind the kitchen.

As Lang reassured her that officers would be approaching the house on foot soon, the situation changed. “Oh my God, he hit really hard,” the woman said. “He’s throwing himself on the door.”

And then, “Oh my God, he’s got the door open. He’s in the house.” Once inside, the man began calling her daughter’s name, she said.

After picking up the extension, the intruder demanded to know who was on the line. On being told it was law enforcement, he said, “You have the wrong number.” He also told Lang that he had just come home to his own house and was looking for his wife, but could not find her.

“Where’s the other lady talking on the phone?” Lang asked. After the woman answered, he proceeded to convince the apparently unarmed intruder that police were there to help, and the man was taken into custody.

Torien Lavon Scott, 31, is in custody, charged with aggravated burglary and misdemeanor criminal damage to property.

The MARC award cited Lang for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Critical Incident.

MARC on Friday will honor Lang and several other call takers and dispatchers.

• Johnson County Sheriff Master Deputy Brad Webb was cited for Outstanding Training Performance for introducing a software package of web-based training courses.

• Johnson County Sheriff Lt. Bill Walker will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Walker has been with the department since 1988 and has managed several large communications projects.

• Tonya Hagedorn, a dispatcher with the Lenexa Police Department, was honored as an “Everyday Hero.” Hagedorn is trained in crisis/hostage negotiation and dispatches for the city’s tactical team.

• Also receiving awards: Kim Harris, Doug Boucher and Jamila Crawford of the Lee’s Summit Fire Department for outstanding team performance in a critical incident, and Candy Gram, Riverside Police Department for outstanding supervisory performance.

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