SUGAR GROVE, Ill. - The 911 calls that led to chaos on a suburban college campus have been released. Reports of an active shooter at Waubonsee Community College turned out to be a false alarm.
The ABC7 I-Team was able to exclusively obtain the bizarre 911 calls that caused the confusion.
Man: He's a big guy.
Operator: 475 pounds, correct?
Man: Yeah, he moves like a ninja.
Officers from three counties as well as Illinois State Police responded to what they thought was a bloodbath. The response was brought about by a comedy of errors, but tonight no one is laughing.
The calls led to a massive police response and panic.
Man: I got six students I know that he shot on his way in. But I think he's on the second floor right now.
But there is no mass shooting, just mass confusion at a FEMA-funded seminar hosted by a state law enforcement group at Waubonsee Community College as part of a lesson campus shootings.
A text meant for someone in the training instead went to a woman outside the class, who called 911.
Woman: It says "This is Laura from the Todd Library. The shooter is in here. He just shot six students. Someone send help. I'm afraid to call anyone. He might hear me."
The operator dials the number that sent the text.
Operator: Did you send a text message about a situation going on a Waubonsee College?
Man: I did.
Operator: Alright, what's going on?
Man: My name's Laura. I'm the head librarian.
Man: And I really can't talk too much but the shooter is in here. He shot six students. I think he's still here in the building.
The man thinks the call is part of the training.
Man: He's about 5'8", 475 pounds or so.
Operator: How many? 175 pounds?
Man: 475 pounds. He's a big guy.
Operator: 475 pounds, correct?
Man: Yeah. He moves like a ninja.
The a moment later the man says, "Oh god, I think he's coming. I can't..." and hangs up.
Soon, police swarmed the campus. Some are heard laughing after learning what happened.
"There was a training symposium here," an officer says over the police radio, and laughs.
The 911 calls also reveal students in fear after being told by campus police to hide. It's still unclear who was running the seminar. FEMA says it provided the curriculum but not the instructors and referred further questions to the Illinois Terrorism Task Force. Waubonsee College said it was simply providing the space for the seminar.
FEMA responded to the situation Thursday night in a statement, saying in part:
"FEMA's Emergency Management Institute did not conduct training at Waubonsee Community College.
Instructors, who met EMI's instructor criteria for the course, conducted the community college's training for the state of Illinois using EMI's curriculum for Multi-Hazard Emergency Management for Higher Education.
FEMA is working with the college and state officials to understand what occurred, and if there are steps that can be taken to ensure instructors and host institutions adhere to appropriate protocols when conducting EMI courses."
On Friday, April 14, a spokesperson from the Illinois Terrorism Task Force's Illinois School and Campus Safety Program told ABC 7 Eyewitness News that Waubonsee Community College asked the group to host the training seminar, which was coordinated with FEMA using FEMA-certified independent contracted instructors. They issued a statement, which said in part:
"The Illinois School and Campus Safety Program is taking this incident seriously. We communicated with the training team, Waubonsee Community College, and local emergency responders in reviewing this serious incident. The safety of the students, faculty and staff, and the community at large is always in the forefront. We regret that this unfortunate incident occurred. In the review of the totality of events and the actions of all involved, it is clear that there are opportunities for improvement. With this in mind, the Illinois School and Campus Safety Program will provide recommendations to FEMA on ways to mitigate the risk of this occurring in the future."