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Report of shooting turns out to be false

Posted: Friday, May 31, 2002

A prank phone call caused area law enforcement agents to respond in a very serious manner Wednesday.

At around 5:30 p.m., a call was received by the Alaska State Troopers that multiple persons had been shot at the Sterling Senior Center. The caller identified an armed suspect as having fled into the woods behind the center following the attack. Immediately, troopers were dispatched to the scene, believing a major incident was under way.

However, when officers arrived at the scene, they found no evidence of any foul play.

Trooper spokesperson Greg Wilkinson said Thursday that troopers must take every call seriously, especially when an actual crime has been reported.

"That's the thing. We always respond in full-force, because if it's true, you have to be there," he said.

However, Wilkinson said, serious prank calls, where officers have to actively respond, are infrequent.

"Actually, these things happen very rarely," he said.

Wilkinson said he was only aware of one other recent event which was comparable to the Wednesday hoax. Earlier this year, someone in Southeast Alaska reported a boat was sinking. After troopers and rescue personnel arrived, they determined no such sinking had taken place.

Usually though, most people refrain from causing undo stress on an already thin trooper force.

"Fortunately, most people respect the law and the process," Wilkinson said.

He said officers were investigating the Wednesday incident, and troopers have some leads in the case.

Making a false report to police officers is classified as a class a misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.



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