Three Tyrrell juveniles to be charged after prank hostage call
Published 12:15 pm Monday, October 21, 2019
Three Tyrrell County juveniles are to be charged with misuse of the 911 emergency communications system after one of them made a prank call at 4:49 p.m. on Oct. 15, Sheriff Kevin Sawyer reports.
The caller reported that several members of his family were deceased in a residence on Fonsoe Street in Columbia and that he was being held at gunpoint, the sheriff stated.
“The claims made in this call were of a nature that immediate overwhelming action was required,” Sawyer said, and more than 40 law enforcement officers and paramedics responded to the sheriff’s request for assistance.
After the Fonsoe Street residence was searched and cleared, a second residence was identified from phone records. Officers then went to a house on Goat Neck Road 14 miles away and determined that no crime had been committed there, the sheriff reported.
“Through further investigation deputies uncovered that it was a prank call made by several juveniles. The case is still under investigation,” Sawyer said.
Juvenile petitions have been sought against the trio for misuse of 911. The two boys and one girl are all under age 16, the sheriff explained.
“I would like to express my thanks for all the support from our surrounding law enforcement agencies,” Sheriff Sawyer stated. “I cannot emphasize how much danger these responders and the community at large faced during this response. The Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office takes every call seriously.”
Other officers who responded included sheriff’s deputies from Dare, Hyde and Washington counties, North Carolina Wildlife, North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement, State Highway Patrol, State Bureau of Investigation’s Special Response Team, SBI crime scene/field agents, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington-Tyrrell EMS and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Meanwhile, Columbia Middle School and Cape Hatteras Secondary School were engaged in a varsity volleyball game inside the Wildcats’ gym, only a block away from the alleged hostage scene.
“Due to the law enforcement activity on Fonsoe Street, we took the necessary actions to ensure the safety of all students, parents and visiting families,” said Oliver Holley, Tyrrell Schools superintendent, adding, “The safety precautions were initiated swiftly and all individuals were secure during the event.”
Holley described a “soft lockdown” that included suspending the game and securing the gym with everyone remaining inside.
“After a few minutes, we were informed by the Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office that our facilities were safe, and normal operations were resumed,” Holley stated.
He thanked Shelia Cumiskey, athletic director, and all other school staff “who contributed to the success of the response to the event.”
Cape Hatteras won all three sets: 25-8, 25-18, and 25-10.