Scott Johnson

It was a strange weekend. It began Friday, a busy day. That afternoon became even busier when Community Service Officer Carl Fischer answered an incoming telephone call at the police station front desk. “I am in the bathroom at the Old Central High School,” the caller said, “I have a bomb that I am going to explode. I have a gun and am going to start shooting.” Carl asked the man why he was going to do that. He replied, “Because I hate America.”

Carl forwarded the call to the dispatcher and notified the patrol officers, Sergeant Jeff Carlson and Assistant Chief Steve Schaar. Officers, deputies and state troopers arrived at the Old Central School, not the “Old Central High School,” and began ushering everyone out of the building. They searched the school top to bottom, room by room, beginning with the bathrooms. In the meantime, Sergeant Investigator Bob Stein began tracing the telephone number, which was assigned to a city in Florida. It turned out the telephone number was bogus. There are computer programs now that will show whatever number the caller wants to show. Scammers use these all the time.

Of course, a search of the building revealed nothing. We had a similar type call a year ago at the same place. What kind of person thinks that alarming people is fun?

On Sunday evening, officers responded to a report of a stolen car. The vehicle owner told officers that on Friday he lent his car and some money to his girlfriend’s son. The car was not returned by Sunday night and he wanted to report it as stolen.

The owner subsequently received a text message stating, “Your vehicle is at Blandin Beach. Your girlfriend’s son is fine as long as he gives us what we want.” Officers went to Blandin Beach and sure enough, the car was parked there. The officers quickly got to the bottom of this. The girlfriend’s son was located in southeast Grand Rapids and was just fine. As it turned out, he had driven the car to Blandin Beach where he parked it and then walked to his mother’s house. He had been the one who sent the text message to the car owner after losing all the money at a casino. Imagine that.

Then there was the call later that night in which a woman reported that her ex-boyfriend was banging on her apartment door for the past thirty minutes. When officers arrived, they found the ex-boyfriend’s car in the parking lot with the engine running and headlights on. They corralled him as he came down the stairs from the woman’s second floor apartment. He was less than cooperative and wanted to fight with officers. In the end, he was arrested for DWI with a breath test revealing nearly three times the limit to legally drive an automobile. He was taken to the county jail.

In the meantime, it was determined that his girlfriend who had called the police was so intoxicated that it was necessary for officers to call an ambulance to take her to the hospital emergency room. Later, officers were called to the emergency room because she had bitten her treating nurse in the stomach. So, by the time the clock struck midnight they were both guests of the Itasca County Jail.

The one, however, that really made us shake our heads was when Officer Shaun Pomplun answered a radio call that a very large round bale of hay had fallen off a trailer and was completely blocking the eastbound lanes of State Highway 2 at 17th Avenue. As Shaun steered his squad car down Highway 2, he saw a pickup truck coming toward him, pulling a flatbed trailer with seventeen large round bales of hay. The eighteenth one was missing. They were held on the trailer with just one strap. He stopped the truck and spoke with the driver. When asked if he was aware that he lost a bale of hay the driver’s response was, “Yeah. There is nothing I can do about it now.” Officer Pomplun told him that he had better turn his rig around, go back to the scene, and start cleaning up the mess. I guess the guy reconsidered as he did turn around. MNDOT had to be called to bring out a plow truck to clean up the hay. As Shaun pulled away, the State Patrol was still writing the driver tickets. Yep. A strange weekend for police calls.

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