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December 02, 2005
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Tacoma mall 911 tapes reveal calm, chaos

STACEY MULICK (Staff writers Karen Hucks, Tara M. Manthey and Mary Anderson contributed to this report), The News Tribune

Copyright 2005 The News Tribune 
The News Tribune (Tacoma, Washington) 
 
The caller's voice reflected pride and calm. He was boastful, assertive and matter of fact.

Minutes later, 911 dispatchers, inundated with phone calls Nov. 20 about a shooting at the Tacoma Mall, started answering all calls to the emergency line with the question: Are you at the mall?

"Yes, I am," the caller said, "and I've already shot several people. I have three hostages. . . . My name is Dominick Sergio Maldonado."

Over the next four hours, the 20-year-old Maldonado ordered his hostages around, often raising his voice. He repeatedly demanded to talk with a police negotiator and got impatient when his requests weren't quickly met.

By the end, he was crying and afraid of the police who'd come for him.

Maldonado's conversations with dispatchers were among the 911 calls released Thursday. Many reflect the chaos inside the mall. Callers report hearing gunfire; others tell dispatchers of wounded people inside their stores. One comes from a hostage.

Here are some of the calls:

Maldonado's first call came moments before the shooting began a few minutes after noon.

Dispatcher: 911. What are you reporting?

Caller: Ah, yes, I am a gentleman. I currently own a M18 90 Chinese-made assault rifle and I also have in my possession a Intertech Tec-9.

Dispatcher: What is it we can do for you here at 911?

Caller: Oh, I am just alerting you that I am about to start shooting right now.

Dispatcher: Where are you located? Sir, where are you located?

Caller: Follow the screams.

Dispatcher: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. You are on a cell phone. I don't know where you are.

Caller: Follow the screams.

Dispatcher: The cell phone doesn't give me any location, sir.

Caller: Follow the screams.

Dispatcher: Sir? Where are you located?

Caller: Follow the screams.

Dispatcher: What is your name?

The line goes dead. On the tape, the cell phone number is called back. After a musical intro of Beethoven's "Fur Elise," come the words: "Hi, you've reached Dominick. I can't answer my phone right now."

A man who saw part of the shooting called 911 and described the scene and the gunman.

Dispatcher: Sir, what did you see?

Caller: I seen this kid who was white. He's about . . .

Dispatcher: What did you see him do?

Caller: Threw his trench coat off. He had a machine gun, an AK, like a rifle, a semiautomatic rifle, just started shootin'.

Dispatcher: Was he shooting anyone specific?

Caller: He's just shooting random.

Maldonado called again after taking refuge inside the Sam Goody record store. He can be heard ordering the hostages to build a barricade.

Dispatcher: 911 Are you at the mall?

Maldonado: Yes, I am, and I've already shot several people. I have three hostages.

Dispatcher: Where are you at?

Maldonado: I am at the Tacoma Mall. Move those against the wall please ma'am.

Dispatcher: Where are you at in the mall?

Maldonado: I am at. . . . What store is this? . . . Sam Goody's.

Dispatcher: I'm sorry. You're at Sam Goody's?

Maldonado: Yes, I am. I need to speak to a negotiator quick. . . .

Dispatcher: I will get you someone to talk to. Has anyone been injured?

Maldonado: Yes, I've injured several people. Hey, this shelf all the way back. I see it's on wheels. I'm pretty sure you can move it. Pull the brake.

Dispatcher: OK, can I have your name?

Maldonado: My name is Dominick Sergio Maldonado. I was born on 9/22/85. Any other information? My Social Security number is (withheld).

(Two gunshots are fired in the background.)

Dispatcher: Did you just fire off some more rounds?

Maldonado: Yes, I have.

Dispatcher: OK.

Maldonado: I believe some people in the mall might need medical assistance. You might want to get an EMT out here. Thanks. All that up against the wall, too. I want all that up there. Are you getting a negotiator?

Dispatcher: I am getting you someone sure. Sir?

Maldonado: Yes, ma'am.

Dispatcher: What set this off?

Maldonado: Oh, about 10 years ago some of your fine Lakewood Police Department people took me to a camp as a kind of a slut, you know kind for the good kids who get to go and they (expletive) me up so I am going to blame all that (expletive) on them. Along with the rest of my life, I couldn't really say too much.

Dispatcher: Sir. OK, I need you to stay on the line with me. I am going to get you a negotiator to talk with you, OK? Are you still firing rounds?

Maldonado: No, I am not.

Dispatcher: How many people do you have with you?

Maldonado: I have three hostages at the time. . . .

Dispatcher: Where are you now? Are you moving?

Maldonado: No. I'm still at Sam Goody. We are barricading ourselves within the store. Katherine, these boxes I want them thrown over this. That's fine where it is. All right boys (unintelligible). Let's go. Hustle, hustle. Double time.

Dispatcher: OK, sir.

Maldonado: Yes, ma'am.

Dispatcher: Are there any people injured at Sam Goody?

Maldonado: Are you injured? Injured? Negative. We're going to build a little fort, guys. Remember back in school?

Dispatcher: I am sorry. You did say you had three hostages?

Maldonado: I do have three hostages and I wish to speak with a negotiator. If you connect me to a negotiator or give me a number that I can call . . .

Dispatcher: We are getting a negotiator to talk to you. Just stay on the line with me, sir.

Maldonado: I want this placed here. I want a barricade right here. I want the point of entry and the other side blocked.

Dispatcher: Where are you at in the store?

Maldonado: Up against the wall.

Dispatcher: Where are you at in the store sir?

Maldonado: I need to speak with a negotiator. I am tired of talking to you ma'am. I am sorry. You are probably pretty good at your job. Boys, I don't see all three of you. (Unintelligible) stays back here at all times. Move this big whole thing, if you can. I want them tilted forward. You keep throwing those up there. I want to keep it that way. There you go. Teamwork.

Dispatcher: How many weapons do you have, sir?

Maldonado: That's not of your concern. I already described what kind of weapons I have. . . .

Dispatcher: I am working as hard as I can to get to get a negotiator on the line for you, sir.

Maldonado: . . . You follow the rules and you won't get hurt, got it? Come on. We're building a fort here, guys. Now all these boxes I want back by that door. Do you have a lieutenant on the line yet, ma'am?

Dispatcher: I am checking with my dispatch and we're getting someone to contact you as quickly as we can.

Maldonado: You have my number. You contact me as quickly as you can.

Maldonado allowed one of the hostages, James Black, to call 911. During the conversation, Black relayed information about Maldonado and what was going on in the store.

Dispatcher: 911. What are you reporting? Hello?

Black: I'm at the Tacoma Mall at Sam Goody . . .

Dispatcher: Yes, how can I help you, sir?

Black: The guy told me to call and let you guys know that as long as you guys play by the rules he'll play by the rules.

Dispatcher: OK, hold on.

Black: Everybody is fine. Everybody's fine and doing OK. ...

Dispatcher: Can you give us your name?

Black: Uh, James Black.

Dispatcher: . . . OK. How many people are there with you?

Black: Four, four counting me.

Dispatcher: Four total hostages. OK. Are you able to talk freely or is he standing right next to you?

Black: Uh . . . right here.

Black tells the dispatcher Maldonado has two guns. He also answers yes-and-no questions about Maldonado's description. At one point, a supervisor gets on the line.

Supervisor: And he is still armed, correct?

Black: Yes.

Supervisor: Is he making any threats to harm any of the four you?

Black: No.

Supervisor: OK. Is there a child in the store with you?

Black: Ten-year-old.

Supervisor: Ten-year-old. Does the suspect appear to be injured in any way, James?

Black: No. . . .

Supervisor: Are the four of you all in the one place?

Black: Yes.

Supervisor: How close are you to the suspect, feet wise?

Black: Five.

Supervisor: Can any of you move back?

Black: No. . . .

Supervisor: You have help coming your way. . . . James, this information you're giving is really helping the officers, 'cause we're talking directly to them. As you tell us whatever you can we're passing it directly on. As long as he is allowing you to keep this phone line open, you can do so. If at any time he orders you to disconnect, obviously this is what we want you to do. OK? We don't want you to put yourself or anyone else in danger.

Black: Don't worry I won't. . . .

Supervisor: OK. James has he indicated in any way that he's willing to allow you to leave or that you have to remain here?

Black: Remain here. . . .

Black: He's saying everybody away from the front of the store.

Supervisor: Is that what he is telling you, James?

Black: Yes. I'm watching the front and I'm not going to die because somebody is . . .

Supervisor, interrupting: He's telling everybody to get away from the front of the store?

Black: Yes. . . .

Supervisor: If he talks to you, James, just reassure him we are trying to do exactly what he's requesting as quickly as we can, but as you're talking to us we have to forward that information onto someone else.

Black: That's fine. . . .

Black mentions activity at the Disney Store across from Sam Goody.

Black: There's somebody over there and I want them to get the (expletive) out of there. They need to get the hell out of that store, now. . . .

Supervisor: OK. We're relaying the message over there now.

Black: I don't want them to end my life.

Supervisor: OK, I understand. Are the people moving from the Disney Store, James?

Black: Yes.

Supervisor: OK.

Then the phone call is disconnected.

Black again calls 911.

Dispatcher: How may I help you?

Black: I'm one of the hostages at Sam Goody. I need to talk to somebody now.

Dispatcher: OK, what's going on?

Black: You guys shut the lights off outside. He wants them back on.

Dispatcher: OK, what's your name?

Black: This is James Black. I've already called once.

Long pause.

Dispatcher: I'd like to keep you on the line as long as I can.

Black: All right, well you need to hurry up a little bit, OK?

Dispatcher: OK, yeah. I'm not there sir, I'm at a different location. We have to go through the radio and everything.

Black: OK, well, (inaudible)

Long pause and the call ends.

Black calls back a third time.

Dispatcher: What are you reporting?

Black: I'm a hostage, and I want to talk to a dispatcher, please.

Dispatcher: You are a hostage where, sir?

Black: I'm at Sam Goody's, the one on national TV?

Dispatcher: Right. . . .

Black: OK, I need you guys to get a direct line right now, and we would like lights next door to be turned back on, please. All lights, everything be turned back on.

Dispatcher: Is this coming from . . .

Black: This is coming from him. This isn't coming from me.

Dispatcher: OK.

Black: He doesn't feel comfortable. . . .

Dispatcher: OK, I've told them that he wants all the lights turned on, especially the lights across the way.

Black: Yes, across from Sam Goody. That will make him feel more comfortable. And it would make us feel more comfortable. . . .

Dispatcher: Let me know if they come on.

Black: No, the lights haven't come on. . . . They need to expedite this, please. . . .

Dispatcher: Is he getting agitated?

Black: Yeah.

Black: I just don't think he'll feel comfortable until the lights come on. . . .

Dispatcher: Has he let the 10-year-old go or is the 10-year-old . . .

Black: Yes. . . .

Dispatcher: Does he have any explosives on him?

Black: No.

Dispatcher: Do you guys have the TV on in the store?

Black: No.

Dispatcher: Do you have any radio on in the store?

Black: Yes.

Dispatcher: Is he verbally threatening you guys or is he . . .

Black: No. He's being very nice.

Black to Maldonado: They were asking how you were acting. I said you were being very nice.

Black to 911: He's talking to the news people right now.

Dispatcher: He's talking to the news people?

Black: Yes.

Dispatcher: How is he talking to them, on his cell phone?

Black: Yes. . . .

Dispatcher: James, do you want to ask him if he wants to talk to us? Is he making any attempt to talk to the officers outside?

Black: Somebody with the negotiation team has already talked to him.

Dispatcher: OK. That's fine. Tell him we appreciate him letting you call and let us know that you're OK. We just weren't sure if he was able to get through. The music is pretty loud. . . .

Dispatcher: Just say yes or no: Does he seem intoxicated or high to you?

Black: No.

Dispatcher: Does he have any other demands that we need to pass along?

Black: He just wants to talk to these officers that he'd already made statements about talking to. . . .

Dispatcher: I know it's hard James, but you're doing the best thing you can do right now. You're doing what he's asking. And I know it probably seems like forever, but they are really, really working. They are trying to resolve this so no one else gets hurt.

Long pause.

Black: Hey, listen, are you there?

Dispatcher: Yes, sir.

Black: He wants it peaceful, OK?

Dispatcher: OK.

Black: Period. Plain and simple. Peaceful.

Dispatcher: All right.

Black: So, do whatever you've got to do and have it done. . . . He wants it to end this all peacefully. He just wants to talk the people he's asking for.

Dispatcher: I understand. Tell him I'm sending the notes.

Black: He's very calm.

Dispatcher: OK. . . .

Long pause.

Black: Get me a negotiator. On the phone, now. Patch me through to him. Do whatever you've got to do. He wants to give up. He wants to talk to somebody.

Dispatcher: OK.

Black: Hurry up.

Dispatcher: OK, James. Tell him to talk to me. Put him on the phone.

Black to Maldonado: Here.

Maldonado: (almost inaudible) I've got to go.

Dispatcher: I know, sir. What do you want to do? You tell me.

Maldonado: Talk to a negotiator. . . .

Dispatcher to Maldonado: OK, sir, I'm going to try to get someone on the line with us. Can you hear me OK?

Maldonado: Yes.

Dispatcher: I'm sorry, we're dealing as best as we can. The computer is extremely slow. I've been trying to talk to them for you.

(Inaudible.)

Dispatcher: I know. I can barely hear you. Can you hear me OK?

Maldonado: Yes. . . .

Dispatcher: I appreciate you being very patient with James. He told us you've been extremely kind to him. And I'm equally thankful that you.

Maldonado: (Inaudible.) . . .

After a long pause, the dispatcher again talks with Black.

Dispatcher: James?

Black: There hasn't been any shooting. Everything's done. . . . I got the weapons away from him. . . .

Dispatcher: Let me talk to him.

Maldonado: Hello?

Dispatcher: Sir, are you OK?

Maldonado: (voice breaking) Yeah.

Dispatcher: All right.

Maldonado: I don't want them . . .

Dispatcher: No, no, you stay on the phone with me and I will make sure that doesn't happen. . . .

Maldonado: (possibly crying) I'm sorry.

Dispatcher: No, it's OK. Listen to me. It's all right. You need some help and we're going . . . It's OK. You don't need to be sorry, OK?

Maldonado: No, I'm saying sorry to the people.

Dispatcher: OK, ask the people to . . .

Black takes the phone: He's going to call on his phone because I want my phone.

Dispatcher: OK, James, let me talk to him, please.

Maldonado: Hello?

Dispatcher: OK, where are the hostages at?

Maldonado: We're walking out. . . .

Dispatcher: OK. Who has the guns?

Maldonado: Nobody has the guns. . . . They are at the back of the room and they are disarmed.

Dispatcher: Are you going out the front door?

Maldonado: Yes, we are. We're going out the front.

Dispatcher: OK, it's all right. I want you to stay on the phone. Let the hostages go out the door first, OK?

Maldonado: No, I want them to go out with me. They're going to tackle me.

Dispatcher: OK, that's OK. That's all right. Just keep your hands in plain sight. Tell them you're coming out and I'm on the phone with you, OK? . . . They're not going to do anything while you're on the phone with me; I work for 911. . . .

Maldonado: Do they know I'm coming out?

Detective Ray Shavari comes on the phone at dispatch center.

Shavari: Hi, this is Detective Ray Shavari. I'm with the Sheriff's Department. Sir, what's your name?

Maldonado: Dominick. I'm coming out . . . with the hostages. Please tell them I want to go peacefully, please.

Shavari: He wants to go peacefully.

Maldonado: Please. . . .

Shavari: What door are you going to come out from?

Maldonado: The front door and the guns are in the back and they're unloaded and there's nothing in the rounds. . . .

Shavari: OK. When you come out, make sure both your hands are up in the air. . . .

Maldonado: Well, I got the cell phone.

Shavari: OK, keep your cell phone. Let's see. (To dispatcher): Advise them that he's got a cell phone in his hand. He's on the phone with me and that he's going to have one hand up in the air. (To Maldonado): Which hand do you have your cell phone in, sir?

Maldonado: My right hand.

Shavari: OK, the cell phone's in the right hand, guys.

Maldonado: I don't want . . . I can't . . .

Shavari: We are not going to hurt you. Do you understand? You have my word. . . . Just do exactly what I tell you, OK?

Maldonado: OK.

Shavari: Keep the cell phone in your right hand up to your ear. Do not make any sudden movements, OK?

Maldonado: OK.

Shavari: OK. Make sure you are by yourself, OK? Stay away from all those hostages. Do not get mingled with them. Put your hands up in the air as you are walking out.

Maldonado: I have both hands in the air. No, can you tell them I don't want to lay down, please? (Fear in voice) Please.

Shavari: You need to lay down sir.

Maldonado: Please.

Shavari: Sir? They are not going to hurt you, OK? They're not going to hurt you OK? You need to lay down.

Maldonado: OK, I'm getting off. I'm getting off the phone.

Shavari: OK, get off the phone. All right.

Maldonado: Bye.

Police officers can be heard on the phone line yelling in background.

Shavari to someone in office: The cops are talking to him.

Maldonado to the police at the mall: It's the detective! He told me to stay on the phone and to keep it on! I don't have noth-- . . . I don't have anything!

(Police yelling louder.)

Shavari: Sir, put the phone down. Sir?

Maldonado: OK.

Shavari: Put the phone down!

Maldonado: OK.

Shavari: Put the phone down.

(Police yelling.)

Shavari: Sir, can you hear me? If you can hear me put the phone down. (To dispatch): OK, he's put the phone down, it looks like, because I can hear in background. I just don't know what's going on.

Pause.

Shavari: They're talking to him. I can hear them talking to him.

- - -

Staff writers Karen Hucks, Tara M. Manthey and Mary Anderson contributed to this report.

- - -

MORE ONLINE

To listen to selected clips from the 911 calls, go to www. thenews tribune. com.

Full story: Tacoma mall 911 tapes reveal calm, chaos






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