JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department radios were stolen from the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts and were used to call in a false report of a shooting and a police officer down, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
It happened around 10 p.m. Tuesday.
According to a police report, the announcement dispatch received through one of two stolen JFRD radios was, "There was a shooting and a police officer was down." The Sheriff's Office said 11 officers flooded the Times-Union Center, but found no one hurt.
Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, said first responders quickly realized the announcement was fake because the announcer never used verbal first responder codes to describe the situation.
“There’s a certain vernacular that is inherent with JSO and JFRD. So if those words aren’t being said that are normally said in those type of situations, responders may be suspicious of where they are going to," Wyse told News4Jax on Thursday.
It was discovered the two JFRD radios had been stolen from the medical room at the Times-Union Center, which had been left unsecured, police said.
Each portable radio has a number assigned to it, which lets dispatch know what station or location it's assigned to when it's being used. That's how investigators were able to determine if it came from the medical room.
JFRD disconnected the stolen radios from the police and fire frequencies so no further hoax calls could be made.
Surveillance video showed several people going in and out of the medical room, according to the police report, but the quality was not good enough to help investigators.
News4Jax was told that if the person who made the false announcement had stayed on the radio for a long period of time, technicians would have been able to use triangulation between repeater towers to pinpoint that person’s exact location. If that person is caught, they could face criminal charges of grand theft and making a false 911 call.