The 9-1-1 dispatcher in Dayton, Ohio, heard panic in the voice of a woman who called Sunday night.
“I’m scared to death,” Rebecca Keeton said. “There’s asomebody sitting on my porch, and it looks like he has a gun barrel sticking out of him.”
Minutes later, Clark County sheriff’s deputies surrounded Keeton’s home. They called out to the gunman. No answer. So deputies drew their weapons and carefully confronted the suspect, who was wearing a hooded sweat shirt and holding a beer in his lap. Still no response.
One officer pushed his assault rifle against the hooded figure, only then realizing the suspect was a mannequin holding a toy gun.
The bizarre episode, apparently intended as a practical joke, has led to charges against Keeton’s cousin, 46-year-old Tammy Moore. Keeton’s son, Kyle, said the dummy was the latest in a string of practical jokes family members have played on each other. “They didn’t mean harm,” he said.
Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelley was not amused. “We believed it was a real gun,” he said. “We believed it was a real person from a distance.”
Kelley said his officers are still on edge after the shooting death of a deputy responding to a call last year. “Any situation like this brings back memories of a year ago,” he said. “Any call can turn into a serious, violent confrontation.”
Dayton prosecutors charged Moore with inducing panic, a misdemeanor that carries penalties up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. Moore’s son says the whole family has learned a lesson. “It lets them know you can’t do whatever you want with a joke,” he said. “No guns.”
Moore’s arraignment has been postponed until she finds a lawyer, officials said.