911 prank calls also included murder claim

One of the girls who called 911 as a prank and claimed a gunman was at a gym at an island school also told emergency dispatchers the phantom assailant had killed her mother, according to police records released this week by the Bainbridge Island Police Department.

Public and private schools across the island were locked down the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 16 after two girls prompted a gun scare by claiming in multiple 911 calls that a gunman was at a school on Bainbridge.

The hoax calls spurred a massive police response, with Bainbridge police rushing to multiple schools just after 2:30 p.m. Nov. 16 and officers from neighboring departments in Suquamish, Poulsbo and Kitsap County rushing to the island to assist.

According to the investigation report on the case, the two girls, 9 and 10 and both students at Captain Charles Wilkes Elementary, were riding a school bus when they made a 911 hangup call. Emergency dispatchers at Cencom (Kitsap 911) made a return phone call to the number, and heard laughing.

Multiple 911 calls followed from the two girls, who then claimed there was a “guy with a gun” and mentioned a gym and a bus stop.

One of the girls, according to a transcript of the 911 calls, then told dispatchers, “We have to go, the male with the gun is coming toward us. Bye.”

Dispatchers thought they heard a male in the background, according to police records, but also noted the callers sounded young.

Another prank call came in a few minutes later, with the caller saying someone had a gun in the gym at Ordway Elementary.

Police, meanwhile, had checked schools on the north end of Bainbridge as well as Battle Point Park, before two more calls came in claiming the guy with a gun was in the gym. One of the girls described the gunman as having black hair and a mustache.

Dispatchers were suspicious of the callers and asked to speak with an adult. The girls then impersonated a mother and father, but when a dispatcher asked one of the callers for her date of birth, she first said 2010, then 1946, and finally 1947, according to a transcript of the 911 calls.

Then, roughly 40 minutes after the first 911 call, the girls called back 911 and said there had been no murder.

Police “pinged” the cell phone calls and found the last call had come from the Tolo Road area.

A few minutes later, a school bus driver notified authorities that the prank calls had come from two girls aboard his school bus. He told police he had stopped his bus, which had about 70 students on board, at Filipino American Hall on High School Road after he had heard all schools had been locked down.

He also said he had heard students say something about a man at Ordway, but did not know what they were talking about.

That changed, however, after a boy aboard the bus approached the driver and told him about the two girls who had called 911. The girls admitted to the bus driver they had called 9111, and then called once more to apologize and asked dispatchers to ignore the first call.

Police interviewed the girls at Ordway after they were taken there by the bus driver, and both were crying and afraid of their parents’ reactions to the prank, according to the investigation report on the 911 calls. They also claimed they were encouraged by other students around them to call, and one of the girls later told her parents that any mention of guns was probably made by other kids yelling in the background.

A Bainbridge detective met last week with the girls, their parents and their school principal at Wilkes to emphasize the seriousness of the 911 calls, and noted that school officers were working out the details of the girls’ out-of-school suspensions. The case was also referred to the juvenile prosecutor.

Police determined the cell phone used by the girls had been deactivated and only used for games, but was still able to make 911 calls.

School district officials have declined to talk about specific punishment in the case, citing student confidentiality laws. Officials have also noted that they will review the district’s school lockdown procedures in light of the incident.

“Our next steps include clarification of communication protocols, evaluation of when to place multiple buildings on lockdown, and review of specific processes for lockdown within each building,” District Superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen said in a letter to staff and parents.

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