Claim: A man who couldn't motivate police to investigate a break-in on his property reports that he had shot the burglars instead.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2001]
True Story From the Meridian, Mississippi STAR
George Phillips of Meridian Mississippi was going up to bed when his wife told him that he'd left the light on in the garden shed, which she could see from the bedroom window. George opened the back door to go turn off the light but saw that there were people in the shed stealing things.
He phoned the police, who asked "Is someone in your house?" and he said no. Then they said that all patrols were busy, and that he should simply lock his door and an officer would be along when available.
George said "Okay," hung up, counted to 30, and phoned the police again. "Hello. I just called you a few seconds ago because there were people in my shed. Well, you don't have to worry about them now cause I've just shot them all." Then he hung up.
Within five minutes three police cars, an Armed Response unit, and an ambulance showed up at the Phillips residence. Of course, the police caught the burglars red-handed. One of the policemen said to George: "I thought you said that you'd shot them!"
George said, "I thought you said there was nobody available!"
Origins: The above-quoted gem about a Mississippi resident's scheme for getting a quick police response first garnered our attention in
Funny stories are often presented as news items because some find "wacky news" tales far more appealing than they do plain unvarnished jokes. The "false but authoritative-looking attribution" is a common device in such presentations, one the savvy Internet user learns to watch out for.
Although the familiar version of this story might be a bit of fiction, could something like it have happened anyway? Since we penned this article in
- In September 2003 a minister in Odessa, Texas, who felt police were not responding quickly enough to his call about a burgled church
40 minuteslater followed up with a second phone call in which he reported he was holding hostages and threatening to kill them at that location. The three police officers who were pulled off other cases to converge on the hostage call were not amused by the ruse and arrested its perpetrator, Paul Weymouth, the 63-year-old pastor of Heights Christian Church, on charges of filing a false report.
- In November 2009, an East Texas man called 911 to report that he'd just committed a murder and was still armed. Several officers from the Tyler, Texas, police force sped to his address in cars with emergency lights and sirens blaring, only to find that the 911 dispatch had been a ruse: the caller had been assaulted earlier in the day and wanted to file a complaint, so he'd fabricated his claim about killing someone in order to prompt a quicker response from police. Officers took Mark Anthony Johnson into custody on charges of filing a false report.
Moreover, the caller who falsely reports that he is armed and has shot people not only risks the safety of responding police officers but his own as well, as noted in a response to the above-referenced false murder report of November 2009:
"During a call like that they're all in the frame of mind they have an active shooter who has killed someone. They don't know what the person is thinking or what might happen," he said.
Barbara "known by the company you keep" Mikkelson
Last updated: 14 April 2015
Dean, Kenneth. "Man Arrested for Falsely Telling Police He Had Committed Murder." Tyler Morning Telegraph. 10 November 2009. Lee, David. "Minister Charged with Making False Report." Odessa American. 12 September 2003.