On Nov. 4, the Colorado Springs Police Department released two 911 made by Naomi Bettis on Oct. 31. One call was placed before a gunman opened fire on his three victims in a residential area, and the second call was after the gunman had shot and killed the first person (videos below).
During the first call, Bettis told the 911 dispatcher that a man, later identified as 33-year-old Noah Harpham, was carrying gas cans and a rifle, which she described as "pretty scary," reports Mother Jones.
The dispatcher then told Bettis: "Well, it is an open carry state, so he can have a weapon with him or walking around with it. But of course having those gas cans, it does seem pretty suspicious so we're going to keep the call going for that."
Bettis confirmed that she was not in immediate danger but later said that Harpham had picked up a handgun.
On Nov. 3, Lt. Catherine Buckley, of the police department, told the news site that Bettis' first call wasn't classified as "the highest priority call for service," but the call did go up from priority 3 to priority 2.
The police department said in a statement on Nov. 4 that all the police officers in that area were answering other calls when the first call from Bettis came in.
When a cop did became available, he was sent to an old folks home that "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," according to the police department.
Minutes after Bettis hung up with the dispatcher on the first call, she called 911 back again and said: "I just called a few minutes ago, and the guy came back out. And he fired the gun at somebody and he's laying on the street dead."
All available police and an ambulance were sent to the area, but Harpham went on to kill two more victims before officers stopped him in a fatal shootout.
The three victims of the shooting were Andrew Alan Myers, 35; Jennifer Michelle Vasquez, 42; and Christina Rose Baccus-Gallela, 34.
The police department added in its statement, "Upon review of the 911 audio from the initial call for service the (dispatcher) responded in accordance with both the Colorado Springs Police Department policy and national protocols."
The police department also released a page of its own 2011 training manual to back itself up: "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."
Apparently, this type of open carry and non-response situation could happen anywhere in the state.
“There is not a uniform policy I’m aware of statewide to manage how dispatch handles these calls,” Rick Brandt, president of the Colorado Association of Police Chiefs and chief of police in Evans, Colorado, told The Washington Post.
First 911 Call
Second 911 Call