The 911 dispatchers who handled phone calls from Wednesday’s shooting at Café Racer told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News their story on what happened during the incident.
Leah Smothers was one of the operators on duty at the Seattle Police Dispatch Center in the West Precinct in downtown when she handled the shooting calls from the public.
“You know that officer safety is key,” Smothers said. “So you want to know weapons, you want to know direction of travel, you want suspect description, and you want to know if there are any injuries.”
Another 911 dispatcher, Teresa Marple, was working to relay information directly to officers on the way to the scene.
“This event was so fast,” Marple said. “And there was so much talking by all of the units, initially, and all of the people going and what they needed and what they wanted.”
Operators at the center understand that there are times where, to the general public, the dispatcher seems to be more focused on gathering details than sending units out.
This was one of the phone calls taken from Wednesday:
911 Dispatcher: 911, What are you reporting?
Caller: I’m at Roosevelt and 59th, Café Racer, there’s been a shooting. Somebody came in and shot a bunch of people. So I’m hiding in the bathroom.
Caller: The guy is gone, so I’m going to go back out.
911 Dispatcher: What do you mean the guy is gone? How do you know?
Caller: Look, look. People are bleeding all over.
911 Dispatcher: Sir, I’m not the one driving out there, so please answer my questions. This is serious, OK? How do you know if he’s gone if you didn’t see him?
During that conversation, multiple officers and medic units were already dispatched.
“For that call taker, that’s a technique she uses to gather information, try to calm the caller down,” Marple said. “’Focus on my voice, focus on what I’m asking you.’”
Despite the situation, dispatchers are to remain calm.