back to article SWAT team besieges Illinois school in 'butt dialling' incident

An Illinois man prompted a full-scale SWAT intervention on Monday afternoon by inadvertently "butt-dialling" his wife, who quickly became convinced the "garbled" call was evidence he was being held hostage. The unnamed chap was driving home from his job at Carleton Washburne School in Winnetka when "his touch screen phone …


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  1. jake Silver badge

    Idiot woman. Stupider police.

    No doubt they were all hoping it was "teh terrorists" ...

  2. Wommit

    Sorry WHAT!!!

    "Armed operatives nonetheless searched the school for two hours as a precaution"

    Why, just WHY FFS.

    Haven't they got anything better to do?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Armed operatives nonetheless searched the school for two hours as a precaution

      nothing like a bit of <s>snooping</s> <s>time wasting</s> er training.. whatever.

    2. Just Thinking


      They got dragged into work on their day off, they are damned well going to get something out of it.

    3. Peter2 Silver badge

      Possibly because...

      It might look a little bad if someone dialled the emergency services having been kidnapped, but couldn't talk on the phone because they didn't want to be shot. Imagine; a police armed response team turned up and the kidnapper/terrorist told them "sorry mate, sat on my phone. i've ended the call now" and the police just said "ok" and buggered off.

      That'd play well in whatever tabloid newspapers the locals read if someone died afterwards. You can just see the outcry, incompetent police bla bla bla.

      I'd complain about people not locking phones, but short of turning a phone off it's impossible to prevent dialling 999/911/112

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But why the school?

        The call came from his car, apparently. So obviously the police should have searched the premises of the nearest doughnut vendor for two hours, just in case the "kidnappers" might have brought him there.

    4. AndrueC Silver badge

      This is NOT a title

      >Haven't they got anything better to do?

      That depends who you ask :)

    5. Anonymous Coward

      I guess not.

      No Brazilian electricians around?

    6. Anonymous Coward

      After putting on all that kit and getting all pumped up

      they couldn't just leave it there in case some 'long haired hippy types' were smoking massive drugs or sommat.

    7. __PB__

      Hindsight is always 20/20

      It is very easy to say now that the search was pointless now as we know exactly what happened.

      However they (the SWAT team) had to be sure that the people holding him (the teacher) hostage hadn't foud out that he had managed to raise the alarm. Sent him home and told him to tell his wife it was all a misunderstanding so she would call off the SWAT team and they (the 'terrorists') could escape from their failed attempt without being caught.

      Ideally the woman wouldn't have called the SWAT team in the first place and all this could have been avoided.

      1. Marvin the Martian

        @__PB__: Nicely farfetched story

        But there being no indication whatsoever that the school was involved as a location, spending 2hrs combing through it makes as much sense as combing through any other building.

        2hrs X 30 (at very least, backups/comms/... etc) = expensive.

    8. Jess


      > "Armed operatives nonetheless searched the school for two hours as a precaution"

      > Why, just WHY FFS.

      It is just common sense for any false alarm like that to be converted into a training excercise, otherwise it is just a waste of time and money.

      And it would also be a sensible precaution, in case a perp managed to pass it off as a false alarm.

  3. petur

    Repeat after me...

    the terrorists have won,

    the terrorists have won,

    the terrorists have won,


  4. Haku

    hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut

    hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut

    (don't tell me I'm the only one who when reading the article pictured that scene near the end of The Blues Brothers?)

    1. Winkypop Silver badge


      hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut .....

  5. Cunningly Linguistic
    Thumb Up

    Better safe..

    ...than sorry.

  6. Anonymous Stoner

    RE: Repeat after me...

    Couldn't have put it better myself.

    I dont understand it. Terrorists blow some shit up on the other side of the world, and the world news makes it their top story.

    Exactly what the terrorists want... as much publicity as they can get.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "He had the radio up and was listening"

    Up where exactly?

    Oh, "butt-dialling".

    On second thoughts, don't answer.

    1. galbak

      is this a title?

      to late

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    I love america but seriously.....someone needs to take a chillpill...I mean you can just see al quaeda and their cronies somewhere having a great laugh at how crazy things have become, sure there is no need to do anything again to america...civil liberties will never be restored there!

    1. MinionZero

      @"someone needs to take a chillpill"

      Its the hidden part of the American way of life and has been for hundreds of years. Here's a South Park's explanation. (I assume that version of the cartoon has the correct audio as well, as I don't have sound at work).

      Over 3 million Americans suffer seriously from panic attacks. Its a country with over 250 million guns. Just imagine someone shaking in fear behind their gun, as they hold their gun up pointed at what they fear and you have an image which explains American history.

      For all the American bravado, its really dominated by fear just under the surface, which can easily surface far too often. Its not a way I would want to live, so I will never live out there. I certainly wouldn't want to bring up a family in that kind of fear driven environment. :(

      1. g e

        But of course, Mr Bond

        A frightened population is much easier to control (Goebbels/Goerring - never can remember which)

      2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

        Original and translation

        o: "Over 3 million Americans suffer seriously from panic attacks."

        t. About 1% of the US population suffers from panic attacks.

        o: "Its a country with over 250 million guns."

        t: Within the country as a whole there is something less than 1 firearm per capita.

        o: "Just imagine someone shaking in fear behind their gun, as they hold their gun up pointed at what they fear and you have an image which explains American history"

        t: I, MinionZero, imagine Americans as frightened, flaky, gunslingers.

        o: "Its not a way I would want to live, so I will never live out there."

        t: I, MinionZero, have learned all I need to know about the USA from South Park.

      3. O RLY

        the cartoon in Bowling for Columbine has nothing to do with South Park

        It was not drawn or voiced by Matt Stone or Trey Parker.

        "Contrary to popular belief, "South Park" (1997) creator Trey Parker and co-creator Matt Stone had nothing to do with the animated section of this film. Stone was enraged, believing that the impression that they had done the animated section was intentional. For that reason, Michael Moore was portrayed in an amusing negative fashion in Parker and Stone's film Team America: World Police (2004). "

  9. envmod



    1. lpopman
      Thumb Up

      titular something

      Here they come to save the motherfucking day, yeah!

      /me places face in hands, and shakes head whilst sighing

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    junk in the trunk

    I wonder what kind of touchscreen it was for his butt to be able to dial through clothing? Unless he was commando.....

    1. ChrisC

      No need to go commando...

      ...if you've got a resistive touch screen, as fitted to almost every Windows Mobile touchscreen phone out there today, plus a whole bunch of other touch-enabled phones that were around before the fruity mob brainwashed everyone into thinking smartphones/touchscreens began with the iPhone.

      1. Jos

        No iPhone...

        After reading through the article I never thought it could have been an iPhone. If it was close to his butt, the signal would probably have crapped out...

    2. Wize

      Could he have had one of those old things called

      buttons? Easy to press them.

      Or voice activated speed dial.

      1. g e

        Voice activated?

        By his butt?

        Perhaps he sounds like a fart when talking?

        *parp* .... Dialling Home

  11. John I'm only dancing

    A question in my mind

    Who exactly, was the biggest arse in all this? His wife? or the Swat team?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Problem for Aaron's and Abigail's

    My wife is called Abigail and hence tends to end up as the first entry in the contact list for people she knows ... so as a result when they sit on their phones etc its normally us who get autodialled - used to regularily get calls (seemingly normally from pubs given background noises) from a builder we'd been using and last week got woken up at 2am by an accidental text message from her sister who was on holiday in Australia!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      simple solution

      the first entry in my contact list is "Aaaaaaaaaaa" and the number is that of my own phone, so it is always engaged if there is an accidental dial

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Heh, its' all for the lolz.

      People should have the first entry in their contacts list as aaaaaaa with some junk number like 3429438429238 sorted.

      Having said that, I used to have a blackberry that had a rather prominent button on the front. If it was pressed like three times (when locked) it dialed 999 and you couldn't disable it. Which idiot thought of that I don't know.

      1. Nick Stallman

        I dont understand

        I just dont have a phone with those stupid 'shortcuts' to call people.

        On the N900, assuming no desktop shortcuts, it takes 5 touches to call a arbitrary number. 2-3 touches if you've been talking to someone in your address book recently.

        The chances of accidentally doing that is nil. And it isnt a inconvenience at all not having a shortcut.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Did nobody at any time think to break off the call

    and call him back to see if he was okay?

    1. SMFSubtlety

      Mobile phone to landline, only the mobile can end the call

      When on a call that is mobile phone to landline, only the mobile phone can end the call.

      I have had accidental calls before to the home number and no matter how many times I hang up my phone, it doesn't matter, as soon as I pick it up again the call is still there.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        This is not what's being observed here

        GSM to PSTN doesn't exhibit this problem.

  14. Dennis

    Does my bum look big in this?

    Does my bum look big in this?

    ... "this" being America.

    Mine's the coat styled to cover a lardie-arse.

  15. g e


    So... the hut-hut team carried on searching NINETY MINUTES after he got home and wifey apologised.... ????

    'Sorry ma'am, a two-hour search and democracy check is standard procedure in non-cases like these'

  16. JaitcH
    Jobs Horns

    Is this what they call an Arse (S)Wipe ....

    motion on a touch screen?

    More importantly, Jobs hasn't patented it (yet).

  17. RandomEvents

    Wrong shade of brown

    After the quick mention of the husband listening to hip hop, it occurred to me, that some people in the comments section are overlooking the obvious, it's the U.S., and our citizens in the mid-west tend to fear a group of people a little closer to home (but hopefully not too close) before they even think of terrorists.

  18. peyton?

    You're not clever

    Why the comments about terrorists??

    SWAT = *POLICE* = completely domestic

    Feds = dhs/tsa/cia/dod = teh terrorists

    Granted, the police (via bomb squads) can be called in all too frequently for suspicious packages/vehicles. But what is the proposed 'terrorist-free world' response for this incident? Do the cops reply "Kidnapped you say? Well call us back if he's still missing tomorrow, just so we can be sure." As others have pointed out, you don't get a case number when you call 911 - there is not going back to update your case notes to 'false alarm'.

  19. dssf

    There were "ASSUMPTIONS" here...

    "Talk" about an "ASS" and making "ASSUMPTIONS"... his "ASS" made an "ASS" of the parties endvolved in the ASSUMED hostage-taking...

    (Know what happens when you ASSUME It makes an ASS out of U and ME... )

  20. squarefanatic

    What's That?

    Muffled voices? Rap music? Must be a hostage situation!!!

  21. Jeff Wojciechowski

    Alert Fail

    Wish someone would have alerted me of this. I would have done an interview or obstructed the search or something. 8.6 miles away from where I am writing this comment.

  22. whattsamattayou

    Paranoia Americas greatest threat

    The downfall of the US and its ilk will not be from terrorism either internal nor external, it will be down to paranoia. The fact that people have commented defending the SWAT teams response says it all...IT WAS A COMPLETE OVER-REACTION FOLKS!!! There are no excuses for their response.

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