Police take 19 minutes to respond in fatal shooting

By Heather Leigh, Mobile journalist, hleigh@wjxt.com
Published On: Apr 21 2014 04:24:42 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 22 2014 03:04:24 PM EDT
House party shooting
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Some neighbors are concerned after learning it took Jacksonville police 19 minutes after the first call to arrive outside a Sandalwood house party where one teen was killed an another was shot early Saturday morning.

Several neighbors said they heard gunshots and saw several people running up and down the street. One of the neighbors, Mario Zechu, said he called 911 immediately after.

According to a calls for service list, he called at 12:21 a.m. Saturday, then he and his family ducked for cover inside their bathroom and waited. According to that list, a police officer wasn't dispatched for 13 minutes and didn't arrive until 12:40 a.m.

Willie Johnson was killed and a 16-year-old was injured in the shooting on Coachman Lakes Drive.

Zechu said his family members were scared for their lives.

"My parents had to hide for 20 minutes," he said. "Anything could have happened. Some bullet could go through the door, 'cause this is drywall. It could just go through the building and just hit somebody. It's kind of dangerous."

Zechu said a house party was going on next door, and when Zechu's family heard gunshots, his brother-in-law called 911.

"He called once, said there was a shooting outside and that the cop needed to come right away," Zechu said. "And then, so they were shooting, so they were ducked down in a room or the bathroom or whatever, and then they realized that cops weren't coming 'cause they kept looking out the window, you know? They heard people on the porch in the backyard, I guess taking cover or hiding from the shooting."

At 12:26 a.m. another call was made from a different house reporting gunshots. It wasn't until 12:34 a.m. that a police officer was dispatched for the first call.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, a call like that is considered a Priority 3 call and can take up to 10 minutes before an officer is dispatched. Police said the officer is to proceed at the speed limit, not violating any traffic laws.

At 12:42 a.m. a call came in from the house where the party was happening saying someone had been shot. The Sheriff's Office said that's when the situation was upgraded.

One neighbor who didn't want to be identified said he heard gunshots at around 12:20 a.m., but he said he didn't call 911 until around 1 a.m. That's because he said a man in his 20s came to his door asking for help.

Even so, Zechu said that amount of time is too long.

"Once you call for an emergency like this, you expect the cops to come right away," he said. "But who knows what could have been going on out there. Once they came, a lot of cops came, there was the SUV, the ambulance, so once they came, they came."

There was also some confusion over how many sets of gunshots occurred. Police said there was only one set of gunshots and that was when Johnson was killed.

Johnson's family has not spoken about his killing.

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