It took paramedics 19 minutes to arrive at the home of a Florida State University professor shot in his garage after a neighbor called 911 – with the dispatcher’s confusion contributing to the delay and one EMS unit replaced by another, authorities said.
Dan Markel, 41, was shot as he drove his car into his garage on July 18. The killer fired a single bullet through the driver’s window, striking him just beneath the jawline, sources told ABC News.
A neighbor called 911, noting that he happened upon Markel’s car because he’d been worried about a recent string of break-ins. The neighbor said he found Markel sitting in the driver’s seat of his car, his head covered in blood. Markel was still alive, the man told a dispatcher. But he wasn’t responsive.
“You need to send an ambulance in a hurry, an EMT,” the neighbor said, according to audio of the call released by police Thursday.
“I think you need to hurry.”
Because the dispatcher didn’t initially hear the caller mention anything about a gunshot wound, the response was delayed.
“The officer is going to be there first. [The EMT] is not going to come until we figure out what’s going on, but they are on the way as well, OK?” the dispatcher said.
“They better be if this guy’s got a shot … living,” the neighbor responded.
Markel died at the hospital 14 hours later.
Timothy Lee, the head of the dispatch center, acknowledged to ABC News that confusion contributed to the slowed response.
“On the onset of the call, it was entered into the computer system as a man down versus a gunshot wound,” Lee said. “We are making changes in this review to make sure that this atmosphere doesn’t happen again.”
The release of the 911 audio comes as authorities increased the reward in the case to $10,000, with Markel’s shooter still unknown. Investigators are trying to find the person driving a Toyota Prius seen nearby after the shooting.
The criminal law professor was pulling into his driveway and talking on his cell phone when he was fatally shot, sources said.
Markel left behind two young sons and an ex-wife, Wendi Jill Adelson, also an FSU professor. Police have spent hours questioning Adelson and others who knew Markel, but have named no suspects.
Police believe Markel was targeted, but the shooter’s motive remains unclear. ABC News Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams said the direction of the investigation – with police focusing on different places where Markel was seen in the days before the shooting – shows that the shooter’s motive could be anything, from Markel’s blog to his legal research.
“They’re looking beyond the people that he knew best and worked with closest, and they’re really expanding this investigation beyond his inner circle,” Abrams said.