Apparent hostage situation ends up being a prank - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Apparent hostage situation ends up being a prank

The Memphis Police Department used an enormous amount of manpower Monday morning to respond to what appeared to be a hostage situation.

The response included the TACT unit, the bomb squad, and other police officers, as well as ambulances and medical personal, waiting at 1311 Furgeson for more than five hours. People living nearby were forced to evacuate. It all happened because a man claiming to be armed called 911 and said he had an injured child with him inside a house.

"I just heard so many rumors," said Cassandra Williams, a spectator at the scene. "First it said was a drug bust, then they said a man got a baby hostage. Then they said somebody was shooting at somebody, so I really don't know."

She had reason not to know.

Memphis police went all through the house and found no one inside. Now investigators want to know who made the 911 calls from a cell phone that was disconnected several months ago. Deactivated cell phones can still be used to dial 911.

"We've had prank calls from that cellular phone," said police spokesman Sgt. Vince Higgins. "We're going to investigate that."

The owner of the house says the calls started several months ago when he bought it as an investment. Eddie Wilburn says he is renovating the house.

"They're just using the address for whatever calling the fire department out here, calling the police out here," Wilburn said.

Police are determined to catch the culprit.

Officials said approximately 40 officers were at the scene. The cost to the department has yet to be determined. Investigators said they likely will be able to find out who made the phone calls. The person who made the call could end up being charged with a felony for making a false report.

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