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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.

Oak Lawn Police responded to a call of a gunman inside "Oak Lawn middle school" that turned out to be false on Jan. 30. Further scrutiny of the call and its ambiguity sent police to Simmons Middle School as a precaution.
Oak Lawn Police responded to a call of a gunman inside "Oak Lawn middle school" that turned out to be false on Jan. 30. Further scrutiny of the call and its ambiguity sent police to Simmons Middle School as a precaution.

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.


Time.To.Clean.Up.Oak.Lawn. February 03, 2014 at 06:54 AM
This is what we get when we are depending on a 911 center staffed with inexperieced non resident operators. They didnt realize there is a second middle school in Oak Lawn until 20+mins into the situation. If this wasn't a prank that error could of made it a horriffic disaster. Thank you Bury, Deejten, Desmond, Olejniczak, Vorderer, and Carberry for playing fast and loose with the safety of our village.
p franeke February 03, 2014 at 09:03 AM
Time. What are you talking about? It sounds like everything was handled perfectly to me. I am thankful that our first responders handled this right and even have the alleged bad guy in custody. Great job. If police had made a decision to go initially to both schools Time would be complaining that valuable resources were diverted FROM Oak Lawn Middle School putting kids in danger. Job well done OLPD and Dispatch. How pathetic to spin this for politics, Time.
Bob Wadas February 03, 2014 at 09:04 AM
Are you kidding ? Where in the article does it say they didnt realize the was a second middle school ?
OakLawnGuy February 03, 2014 at 09:27 AM
I think if the dispatcher realized there were two Oak Lawn middle schools, that person could have noted the ambiguity and police might have been sent to both locations. It sounds like a nuance that the new dispatchers need to learn. Maybe this will be just that: a lesson learned.
Bob Wadas February 03, 2014 at 09:34 AM
Doesnt the 911 center contact oak lawn police dispatch and they coordinate the placement of police ?
Lori C February 03, 2014 at 09:42 AM
Bob, the 911 center is located inside 9446 s Raymond. That is where all police, fir and ems calls for Oak Lawn, Bridgeview, Evergreen Park and Burbank are sent from. Also Bedford Park and Central Stickney FD and ems calls. It's all the same place.
Bob Wadas February 03, 2014 at 09:50 AM
Lori, what does the 911 operator do once they receive the call ? Dont they contact the correct city and department ?
JB18 February 03, 2014 at 10:02 AM
"gunman inside a school was an attempt to district police from a burglary in progress." Find the error. Oh editor.
Lori C February 03, 2014 at 10:37 AM
Bob, it's all dispatched from there. You have a dispatcher handling the radio for Oak Lawn and Evergreen Park police and another dispatcher handling for Bridgeview and Burbank police calls. There is another dispatcher that handles the radio for all ^ of the fire depts. that are dispatched and there is 1 or 2 call takers. Every position also answers all phone calls, 911 or non emergency. Everything is handled in the same room. A call is rcvd, and a ticket is made and the dispatcher for who that ticket is for then dispatches the call to the appropriate police or fire agency. It's all done in one room.
Time.To.Clean.Up.Oak.Lawn. February 03, 2014 at 11:00 AM
This "article" is missing and spinning some facts. Go back an read it. The call said an Oak Lawn middle school...not THE Oak Lawn Middle School. The dispatchers sent officers to only one middle school. Then when it was cleared it was realized that the call could of pertained to either/or and thus Simmons was searched also...a full 30 mins after the call. Thus the error. And it is political. The choices of the parties mentioned are why we have this situation like it or not.
Honestly IPO February 03, 2014 at 11:58 AM
Untraceable? Pre-paid? "new" 911 dispatchers not enough experience? Curious why would a thief buy a throw away phone to report gunman during a robbery? As nasty as things have been THIS would be criminal! Just saying ....
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) February 03, 2014 at 01:13 PM
The direct quote from the police report is: “Yes, I wanted to report a gunman at ‘Oak Lawn middle school.'"
jvol February 03, 2014 at 02:07 PM
If that is a direct quote then the "system" directed police to the Oak Lawn-HOMETOWN Middle School SD 123. The other "middle" school in Oak Lawn is almost always refered to as Simmons Middle School, SD 122. Regardless, still shows some serious improvement needed. Anyway, it's over, "WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE".
Mike Fields February 03, 2014 at 09:27 PM
The 911 dispatchers passed their first test with flying colors, great work and thankfully an uneventful outcome.As there are now more Oak Lawn residents working in the dispatch center than before, they may have known more about the area's schools than the caller. Time. Do you still approve of Trustee Streit using residents money to pay himself $1,000 every month?
OakLawnGuy February 04, 2014 at 08:29 AM
Flying colors? No. The call was handled well but they need to learn more of the lay of the land. Not saying they won't, so don't get defensive.
Time.To.Clean.Up.Oak.Lawn. February 04, 2014 at 08:45 AM
Mr Fields I do not know why you are so insistant to tie me to Mr Streit. I am most definately my own person and expressing my own thoughts. But this again is the menatility of one side or the other and not "this is MY view" on a situation. This inability to realize that most people stand on their own and actually can see both sides is why we are in this mess. You are only seeing my opposition here to some....note some....of the doings of Bury, Deejten etc as the Patch is so very biased. Still waiting to see a follow up article asking the hard questions on many issues.
anthony February 04, 2014 at 12:43 PM
100$ says it was a former employee
Lori C February 04, 2014 at 02:13 PM
@ Anthony... I am one of the dispatchers, after serving the village of Oak Lawn and surrounding communities for 20 years, that was let go. Am I pissed off, absolutely. I always speak for myself but in this case, I will speak on behalf of the other dedicated dispatchers that were let go as well, because I know them all very well. How dare you say something like that! This is a group of professional people, with families, and yes...some are the Golden residents of Oak Lawn as well. I can rant about your ignorance, but I choose not to.
Elizabeth Forsyth February 04, 2014 at 02:37 PM
Anthony.... That's a losing bet. First of all I have no doubt the tape of the call has been listened to numerous times by detectives. Second since the detectives are much more intelligent than your comment, they would have have recognized the voice immediately. Third, we are all way to mature to stoop to such stupid levels. That is an asinine comment you made. The new outsourced radio room and the bosses have clearly shown by this huge error what a mistake it was to bring in part time people with NO experience. This one call speaks for itself. It's a mistake that could have cost many more lives had it been bonafide. I have heard numerous complaints and mistakes being made by this center. It's scary. Especially to the residents.
anthony February 04, 2014 at 11:10 PM
well i took the Broncos so that's how well i do with gambling..
Mongo February 05, 2014 at 08:38 AM
Elizabeth Forsyth..... Could you please expand upon your statement " I have heard numerous complaints and mistakes being made by this center"? Please be accurate in your explanation. I would like to know by whom you've received this information? I think that if such horrendous mistakes are being made and that you are privy to some inside information, then it is your civic duty to inform not only the residents but the States Attorney of this malfeasance.

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