Chief Bryan Mount, who has been with the Mount Orab Police Department for 27 years — 14 as its chief — didn’t mean to cause a ruckus on the Ohio University campus on Tuesday.
He just wanted an officer to check an address.
“I was just trying to send someone there to make sure there wasn’t a woman laying there with a bullet hole,” he said yesterday. “I didn’t know the address was a college campus. Not that it would have mattered, though. It still needed to be checked.”
Here is what happened, the chief said:
About 2:50 p.m. on Tuesday, the clerk in the water department of the southwestern Ohio village answered a non-emergency phone (one of six lines that each roll over when another one is busy) that rang at her desk. The calls are not recorded, and there is no caller ID.
The man on the other end said, “I just shot my mom. I need help.”
The clerk realized that this needed to go to the police. She sits close enough to Mount’s office at Village Hall in the Brown County community of fewer than 4,000 people that she simply could say, “Hey, Chief, pick up line 1.”
The man repeated to Mount that he had shot his mom and said, in answer to the chief’s questions, that his name was John Jackson and his mother was Corinna. He said he had shot her in the stomach.
The chief asked him for an address: “58 E. Green St., Athens, Ohio,” the man responded.
The chief asked why he was calling Mount Orab.
“I’m calling from my iPod,” the man said. (Authorities have since concluded that the call was probably made from a computer, which is virtually untraceable.)
Mount asked the man where the gun was. He said it was in his hand. The chief asked him to put it down and go outside. The man said no.
So the chief kept him on the phone, keyed the microphone on the radio in his office and told the dispatcher at the Brown County Public Safety Communications Center that someone should be dispatched to 58. E. Green St. in Athens to see if anyone had been shot.
The dispatcher contacted Athens County dispatchers, who contacted Ohio University police. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Besides evacuating Gamertsfelder Hall at 58 E. Green and nearby dorms, and searching room to room, authorities checked on four other locations Tuesday, Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith and Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle said.
After no evidence of a shooting was found on campus, they looked at other addresses associated with anyone named John Jackson, Pyle said. City police looked at a residence in Athens. Smith sent deputies to addresses in Chauncey, Nelsonville and Albany. They found no evidence of a shooting or a threat, Smith and Pyle said.
The Mount Orab chief said the man answered his questions calmly but slowly on Tuesday. When asked if he was on any medication, he said he hadn’t taken it that day.
“We may never know who it was or why they called us,” Mount said.
He checked phone records and utility bills in his community and could find no similar addresses and no names to raise suspicion that the caller had been throwing authorities off track.
He’s satisfied that no one was shot anywhere.
Mount was taking a good deal of ribbing from locals who good-naturedly blamed him for setting off a panic at a college 120 miles away.
“Everyone’s calling,” he said. “We just wanted an address checked. That’s all.”
By Holly Zachariah - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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