Phoenix police release 911 calls in terrorist hoax
PHOENIX (AP) — Most of the people who saw a masked teenager wearing a sheet and armed with a grenade launcher told authorities they assumed the weapon was a fake as he pointed it at passing cars in northwest Phoenix, according to 911 calls released Thursday.
All of the callers calmly told 911 operators that a "small man" or a "kid" was pointing what looked like a bazooka, torpedo, rocket launcher, grenade launcher or a "long gun with a point at the end" at passing cars on July 28.
"I assume it's a fake. I hope so," one man told a 911 operator. "I think you guys should check it out."
"I don't know if it's real or not, but it's kind of bizarre," another male caller said. "He's wearing a dress with a torpedo on his shoulder and pointing it left and right."
"He had it pointed at me," another man said. "I got kind of freaked out."
A Phoenix man has been accused of filming his 16-year-old nephew to see how fast police would react to a mock terrorist act.
Michael D. Turley, 39, was arrested Monday, nearly two months after the bizarre film was posted to Google Inc.'s YouTube site.
In the film, the narrator whom police identified as Turley, said he wanted to see how long it took authorities to respond. The introduction to the video mentions the July 20 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12.
"Given this event, I wanted to run a little test here in Phoenix, Arizona," Turley said on the film in a disguised voice. "I want to find out how safe I really am, and I want to know the response time of the Phoenix police department."
The police response took just over three minutes from the first call, and a helicopter and SWAT team was dispatched as backup, according to Phoenix police spokesman James Holmes.
The YouTube clip showed the teen marching back and forth at an intersection with the camouflage-colored rocket-propelled grenade launcher on his shoulder. He was wearing a light-blue bedsheet and black head covering with black pants and black sneakers. The 911 callers' descriptions varied, with some saying it was a shawl, gown or dress.
"It looks like there's another kid with him videotaping him," one man told the operator. "They probably think it's funny. It's not really funny."
The first officer found Turley and the teen standing in Turley's driveway. The officer calmly told the boy to put down the weapon and Turley to put down the camera. Holmes said Turley told the officer they were just filming a movie, and the officer took down their names and left.
After interviewing people who called 911 and later seeing the video posted on YouTube, police arrested Turley. He was charged with creating a false impression of a terrorist act, endangerment, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and misconduct involving simulated explosives.
Police said Turley posted $5,000 bond and was released. He doesn't have a listed phone number and didn't immediately respond Thursday to messages sent through the YouTube account.
Holmes said police are recommending charges of endangerment and knowingly giving a false impression of a terrorist act for a juvenile court to decide whether to file against the teen, whose name hasn't been released because he's a minor.