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Janesville police search for phony hostage caller

Hoax caller could be fined $100 to $600

Janesville police search for phony hostage caller

JANESVILLE, Wis. - Janesville police are still looking for the person who is responsible for making the phony call Sunday that shut down a street and forced neighbors from their homes.

Deputy Police Chief John Olsen said this is the first time since he has worked for the department that he has encountered a phony call of this magnitude.

"We have gotten calls and the officers have a 'no find,' but something this significant like that -- where somebody is reporting that they shot somebody and that they were holding another person hostage -- is significant," Olsen said.

Officers were sent to 329 E. Racine St. in Janesville at 4:17 p.m. after a caller claimed he had killed his mother and was holding his brother hostage. The caller gave a name, but police said the name given to dispatch may not have been the name of the actual person who reported the phony incident.

"We've made contact with that person under that name. He's denying involvement," Olsen said.

Officers surrounded the home and shut down the street for around two hours. Police attempted to make contact with the alleged person or persons in the home, but where unsuccessful.

After several contact efforts were made, a SWAT team entered the home and found that there was no one inside. Olsen said the phony call exhausted department resources and put a strain on the entire county.

"This had a considerable impact on our resources. It used up most if not all of our patrol officers on duty, which then requires us to rely on other adjoining agencies for calls," Olsen said.

Anyone who fakes a 911 call can face fines between $100 and $600. Police are still unsure what prompted the hoax, but said they don't believe the house was targeted by accident.

"It's highly unlikely that he was selected randomly from the phone book or his name was just randomly used, so we are looking at the connections there," Olsen said.

He said the department is still looking to make an arrest. Officers are currently looking to subpoena phone records of both the caller and the person named in the incident.

Olsen said once they arrest a suspect, it will be up to the District Attorney's Office to determine the appropriate charges.

While police where occupied on the call, several other calls came in to the department. Those were redirected to the Rock County Sheriff's Office.

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