November 20, 2013

911 transcript: Caller reported ‘death threats’ before Biddeford killings

Despite that call, a police official says the man told responding officers he didn’t feel at risk, so they left. Minutes later, two people were dead.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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The 911 call transcript shows landlord James Pak, left, had made death threats before Thompson and Alivia Welch were killed.

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James Pak

Related headlines

TO READ Derrick Thompson's 911 call to the Regional Communication Center in Gray, click here.

TO READ Derrick Thompson's 911 call routed to Biddeford Police Department, click here.

WARNING: These transcripts contain graphic language.

When asked why Pak was “freaking out,” Thompson said, “I don’t know. He does it all the time. ... All I’m trying to do is shovel” snow off the driveway. Thompson told the dispatcher that he had videotaped his encounter with Pak.

Biddeford police Officer Edward Dexter responded to the call, and after 32 minutes told the dispatcher, “This was a civil issue and the caller did not feel threatened at any time,” according to a summary of radio communications provided by Biddeford police after the shootings.

However, a state police affidavit in support of Pak’s arrest said, “Thompson told Officer Dexter that Pak claimed he was going to shoot them and made a hand motion in front of them.”

LAWSUIT LIKELY OVER POLICE ACTIONS

The second 911 call, from Johnson, came at 6:51 p.m., saying that she had been shot. According to the transcript of that call, when she identified Pak as the neighbor who had shot them, a Biddeford police dispatcher said on the radio, “That male that Brian was supposed to call is the suspect.”

It is not clear who Brian is or whether police called Pak after Thompson’s initial 911 call.

The police response to the confrontation will likely be the subject of a lawsuit. Thompson’s parents have filed a notice of claim against the Biddeford Police Department.

“There certainly doesn’t look like there was much effort on the part of the officer to determine this was a potentially volatile situation or simply an idle threat,” said their attorney, Daniel Lilley of Portland.

“Given the fact the guy is making hand signals like a gun ... they should have determined whether or not he had any firearms in the house. Would they have been able to take them, I’m not sure,” Lilley said. “It’s not clear they should have taken him into custody, but they should have done a little more inquiry into it. He had some real animosity for the people in the apartment.”

According to court documents, Pak waited for police to leave, got a gun, opened the door to the apartment and said he was going to shoot his tenants. He shot Johnson first, then Thompson, then Welch, court documents say.

The transcripts include Thompson’s original 911 call, which was picked up by a regional dispatch center and transferred to Biddeford police; Johnson’s call after the shootings; and a 911 call from Pak’s wife, who reported that he was walking around the house with a gun right after the shootings.

According to the transcript, Pak’s wife said he was drinking. He was heard swearing in the background, saying he had killed three people and threatening to kill himself.

The names of the callers, dispatchers and officers were redacted from the transcripts. Court documents have identified the three people who made the 911 calls.

WOUNDED WOMAN REPORTS ATTACK

The transcript of Johnson’s 911 call is chilling.

Johnson reported that Pak had come into the apartment and shot her and two other people, that her 6-year-old son was also in the apartment, and that she did not dare to move from her hiding place behind the Christmas tree.

Asked by the dispatcher to check on the others in the apartment, Johnson said, “I can’t move and I don’t dare to ... please hurry.”

“Where is the person that shot you?” the dispatcher asked.

“I don’t know. He left. Please hurry,” she replied.

“OK, who was it that shot you?” the dispatcher asked.

“It’s our neighbor. It’s our neighbor ... Jim Pak.”

The transcript indicates that Johnson’s breathing was labored and she was crying. She knew that her son and Welch were shot and were lying in the living room.

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