WASHINGTON — A call-taker at the District’s 911 center failed to dispatch police to an elementary school Monday, after a concerned parent reported witnessing an angry driver threaten to shoot and run over a school crossing guard.
The parent of a student at Lafayette Elementary School on Broad Branch Road in the Chevy Chase section of D.C. called 911 at 3:27 p.m. to report an erratic, angry man threatening to kill the crossing guard, after yelling anti-Hispanic slurs.
However, the 911 call-taker wrongly classified the incident as Priority 2, rather than Priority 1. No police officers were dispatched to the school until 27 minutes later, when a school nurse also called.
An official with D.C.’s Office of Unified Communications who asked not to be named told WTOP the call-taker made “a judgment error and misclassified the call,” which resulted in police not being dispatched.
“Once the person said ‘threaten to shoot,’ that should have prompted a Priority 1 response,” said the agency spokesperson.
The nurse’s call at 3:58 p.m. was dispatched two minutes later, and officers arrived at the school within five minutes, but the suspect was gone.
Lily Buerkle, the parent of a child at Lafayette Elementary, had heard a man in a blue Nissan SUV yelling angrily at the school crossing guard.
“Then I heard him say, ‘I should just run you over,'” Buerkle told NBC Washington.
The driver made a U-turn, yelling at nearby school children, nannies and caretakers, Buerkle said.
“I heard him say, ‘I should shoot you up,'” she told NBC 4.
D.C. police are investigating the threat to do bodily harm as a hate crime, and have a photo of the suspect’s car.
The spokesperson with the 911 center said the agency is conducting a full investigation and the call-taker could be disciplined.
Car, suspect described
On Wednesday afternoon, the D.C. police released a description of the vehicle and the suspect.
The suspect is described as a black man, between 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-10, wearing a dark baseball cap and a blue T-shirt. His vehicle was a dark-colored Nissan Murano with California license plates DLR890651.