Robbery victim says 911 dispatcher ignored his call for help

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Mike Airhart says he had a gun pointed at his head and he thought he was going to die. When he called 911, he says his calls for help were ignored. (WLS)

When you call 911, you expect an immediate response - but that's not what an armed robbery victim says he got.

The victim said he had a gun pointed at his head and he thought he was going to die. That ordeal was bad enough, but he says afterwards, his calls for help were ignored.

On Tuesday morning, two armed men wearing ninja-style masks rushed into the Chatham gas station in the 8600-block of S. State Street, pushing Mike Airhart to the ground.

"He kept saying to me, 'Shut the F up.' And I said, 'No, just hear me out.' He said, 'You think I'm playing?' The other guy said, 'Kill him.' And I said, 'No, you don't have to kill me,'" Airhart said.

One of the robbers demanded the clerk open a safe, but she didn't know the combination.

After what seemed like an eternity, Airhart said the men fled. He called 911 and told the dispatcher that the getaway vehicle was stuck in traffic.

"They can't get out right now. Is the police on their way? You can get 'em! You can get 'em!" Airhart said.

But Airhart says the dispatcher kept asking questions before ending the call. After several minutes, he says no police showed up, so he called his friend - community activist Andrew Holmes - who also called 911.

"I said, 'No, I'm not on the scene. I'm a third-party caller, but they are inside the store.' 'Okay, well there's nothing we can do for you if you're not on the scene.' Click," Holmes said.

Holmes says he then called some of his contacts in CPD and officers were eventually deployed. Radio recordings show a responding officer seemingly annoyed at a dispatcher.

Officer: "Did y'all really wait 15 minutes to give out a robbery, robbery call?"
Dispatcher: "Listen, I'm on lunch. I just got here. Deal with the job, would ya?"

"There ought to be a thorough investigation because, see, now you've opened up a whole can of worms," Holmes said.

"I pay taxes. I do everything I'm supposed to do, and you left me hanging in the store," Airhart said.

A spokesperson for Chicago's Office of Emergency Management & Communications says that 911 response is being investigated.

As for the robbers, Airhart says they fled in a grey, newer-model SUV, possibly a Dodge.
Related Topics:
news911 callarmed robberychicago police departmentChicago - Chatham
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