Moultrie Observer

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January 1, 2014

Hostage call was hoax

13 lawmen converge on scene; 17-year-old charged

MOULTRIE — Moultrie police tracked down a phone used to make a prank call Tuesday that sent more than 10 officers to a Southwest Moultrie residence to what was reported as a hostage situation with a man holding two people at gunpoint.

The alleged caller, 17-year-old Artebeion Harris, was taken into custody after police conducted their investigation. He has been charged with false report of a crime.

Colquitt County E-911 received a call at about 2 p.m. in which the caller reported that a man was holding his father and daughter at gunpoint, Moultrie Police Department Lt. Rob Rodriguez said.

About 13 officers, including patrol, supervisory and investigative personnel went to the Fourth Street residence, where they found no evidence that anything like the caller reported was taking place. In addition, Rodriguez said, residents with relatives in the area heard about the purported hostage situation and also rushed to the area.

With officers and members of the public racing to the scene, it could have had tragic results, he said.

"What would have happened if one of those officers going to the scene got into a car crash and it was your mom he got into a crash with," Rodriguez said. "The ripple effects (could be) endless. It can put into motion a chain of events that can cause people to get hurt.

"It endangers lives, and the department will be putting these folks in jail and prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law."

In addition to the danger there, officers responding to the phony emergency meant that they were not available to answer actual calls for assistance, he said. Four of six patrol officers on the shift at the time were among the 13 who responded.

The prank also cost taxpayers in terms of police resources used and also tied up 911 personnel, Rodriguez said.

 

Other arrests

Moultrie Police

• Ritchie Bernard Woods, 36, of Tifton, was charged Monday with failure to appear.

• Toney Dewayne Striplin, 54, 224 Lakeside Drive, was charged Monday with public drunk.

• Sylvester Laredo, 39, Regency Village Drive, was charged Monday with driving with a suspended tag, driving while license withdrawn and no insurance.

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