Crime

Meth user’s ‘telekinesis’ prompts hoax report of police officer shooting, drawing nearly 40 cops

The 911 call came in at 6:51 p.m. Wednesday, saying an officer had been shot in the face in Parkland.

Nearly 40 law enforcement officers responded to the 15200 block of B Street East, looking for the shooting victim the woman caller had described.

It turned out to be a hoax, Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said Thursday — the woman who called was in a methamphetamine-induced psychosis.

“We were able to get there, realize there was nothing there and it was fake,” Troyer said. “The problem is, we don’t know if the guy is going to continue to shoot people, continue to shoot cops. We don’t know what we’re going to have until we get there.”

Deputies arrived within three minutes to look for the victim, Troyer said. They were told to be careful when approaching the area because it might be an ambush.

The female caller then called 911 to report a fire at a church about 2 miles away in the 2200 block of Military Road East, Troyer said, but dispatchers couldn’t establish contact with her.

Most of the outside officers responding to the shooting — five from Lakewood, 13 from Tacoma and one from Roy — were called off by 7:02 p.m., and most of the 19 sheriff’s deputies were stopped by 7:10 p.m. The Washington State Patrol also responded to the incident.

Deputies determined the call came from a cellphone at a home in the 16600 block of B Street East, Troyer said, and went there about 7:45 p.m.

At the home they found a woman holding three cellphones, Troyer said. They called the number that had reached 911, and one of the phones rang, so they asked her if she called.

“Yeah, I called you guys,” she told the deputies.

The 30-year-old transient told deputies she’d made the call because an acquaintance had been shot in the face and was about to be buried at a house.

She said she learned about the shooting through telekinesis.

Once we heard the word ‘telekinesis,’ we knew there was a definite mental health issue.

Ed Troyer, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department spokesman

“Once we heard the word ‘telekinesis,’ we knew there was a definite mental health issue,” Troyer said.

The deputies wanted to know: Why did she report an officer had been shot?

“I wanted everyone to get there right now,” the woman told them.

An hour after her call, at 7:52 p.m., the woman was taken into custody. Because of her drug use, her blood pressure was too high for her to be booked into the Pierce County Jail, Troyer said, but she refused treatment.

She later was released in Tacoma. Deputies will file a report with prosecutors, who might file charges, Troyer said.

Lakewood police spokesman Chris Lawler said his department has no problem sending all its available officers to nearby jurisdictions if needed.

“Our city is sometimes temporarily low on staffing while we help out on mutual aid-type calls, but not for long,” Lawler wrote in an email. “It can certainly be frustrating when the call for assistance turns out to be false.”

Troyer said that his department’s responders included people driving home from work, unmarked officers and detectives — “all the resources we have.”

This was the first time the Sheriff’s Department has had a specific report about a hoaxed shooting of an officer, Troyer said.

“There’s nothing in recent memory of something like this,” Troyer said.

Kenny Ocker: 253-597-8627, @KennyOcker

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