Police now believe the 911 call that alleged sight of a person with a firearm on West Murray Street Wednesday to be a prank — an announcement that came five hours after emergency crews first responded.
The incident unfolded in the 500 block of West Murray just east of the Western Illinois University campus in Macomb.
During a news briefing at about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, Macomb Police Chief Curt Barker said an emergency phone call was placed by a woman at about 6 p.m. Wednesday evening. The caller, Barker said, gave the address of the house and told the dispatcher there was a person in the residence with a firearm.
"In the background, you could the male subject saying, 'Are you calling the police? Are you calling the police?' and then the phone went dead," Barker said, adding that the 911 system — in conjunction with the address provided by the caller — confirmed the call was made from the residence on Murray Street.
Barker also said police do not believe that the call was made in error but was in actuality the result of a "situation" between the tenants of the residence and the caller.
As for the length of the initial response, Barker said at the time the call came in, law enforcement treated it as a "serious incident with a barricaded subject."
"At that point, we don't have the resources if we're not able to make contact," he said. "We attempted to call the number back, we attempted to use our P.A. system to get somebody at the residence to answer. No one was answering."
Barker added that at that point, local law enforcement did not have the necessary equipment and had to contact the Illinois State Police Tactical Response Team, which brought in robots, which entered and searched the house.
"There was no one at all inside the house," he said, adding that the residents were contacted and were actively helping authorities to locate the person who placed the original emergency call.
Barker said that police do not believe the tenants were involved in the prank.
During a news briefing at 9 p.m. Trooper Dan Hill, public information officer for the Illinois State Police said residents in the area were being evacuated as a safety precaution.
"We just told them that we didn't know what kind of situation we had and we asked them to leave," Barker said later in the evening.
The house that was the focus of Wednesday night's activity has also had some problems in the past, Barker said.
In October, a non-fatal shooting occurred at the same residence. The renters living there in October were evicted, and there is currently a new set of tenants living in the home.
Page 2 of 2 - Barker added that there have been less serious incidents at the residence recently, such as fights or parties.
The chief said law enforcement is continuing its investigation and will continue to try to locate the persons who placed the original phone call, releasing relevant information as it becomes available.
MACOMB — Area law enforcement were evacuating residences in an area near Western Illinois University's campus by 9 p.m. Wednesday — a decision that came as a safety precaution after an emergency call reported a person with a firearm in the 500 block of West Murray Street three hours earlier.
At about 6 p.m., officers from state, city and local agencies responded to the call just east of campus. According to scanner reports, the WIU Office of Public Safety was notified by the Macomb Police Department that an individual called 911 to report a person with a firearm in a Murray Street residence.
As of 8 p.m., Trooper Dan Hill, public information officer for the Illinois State Police District 14, said law enforcement set up a perimeter and were gathering information and resources.
Multiple reports surfaced that the incident was a "possible hostage situation." However, ISP could not confirm or deny the claim by 9:30 p.m.
Shortly after 6 p.m., witnesses in the area reported seeing police officers holding AR-15 style weapons, bullet proof vests and battering rams.
The situation is ongoing and police are advising community members to avoid the "affected area" from University Drive down West Murray Street.
Watch McDonoughVoice.com for more updates.