Home alone on a Friday night, 18-year-old Lindsey Tucker was not expecting any visitors.
“My dog started going crazy and there was a police officer at the door,” said Lindsey Tucker.
When she looked further out the door, she saw there was more than just one police officer- almost the entire Ames Police Department was in her neighborhood.
“They were all walking through my front yard, and there were all these armed cops and I was like is there someone crazy running through the neighborhood?” said Tucker.
Police had received a call that a man had broken into to Tucker’s neighbor’s house and opened fire.
“He just asked me if I heard or seen anything unusual and then he started going more in depth, like did you hear any shots being fired,” Tucker remembered, “and then he asked if there were any deaf people in the neighbor which was kind of strange.”
But it wasn’t strange in this case, because the call came to police through Relay Iowa, which is a service for people hard of hearing. Police say they learned fairly quickly that the call was a false alarm. But while the excitement was over for Tucker, the night was just beginning for police. A second call came in 30 minutes later about a house across town. It was reported the same way, and by the same person – “Tyler Porter.” The home the call came in about belonged to a Todd Porter.
“Obviously when they saw our last name being Porter they thought there might be some kind of connection,” said Todd Porter. But there was no connection- Todd said they don’t even know anyone by that name. And again, the reports of a break in and shots fired proved to be another false alarm.
While they were at Porter’s house, police received a third call. This one was about an alleged hostage situation happening at an apartment complex on the south side of town. At this point, police suspected it was hoax, but they couldn’t take the chance of ignoring it.
“We’ve only got so many officers to cover the whole town, and if we`re all tied up on some silly prank call like this that means other areas are not covered,” said Investigations Commander Geoff Huff.
Because of those dangers, police hope to charge the person responsible. However, police explained that it’s not that easy, “the problem now is that phone call or that originating phone could have come from anywhere,” said Huff.
While they use their time and resources to subpoena phone records, and track down who made the calls, they’re still dealing with the consequences of the prank in town.
“The real victims here are the citizens of Ames because their tax payer dollars were wasted on three calls that night,” said Commander Huff.
Police believe the calls originated from New Jersey, and all three used a service that is designed for the hearing impaired. Police say that makes it harder to trace the phone calls.