911 dispatcher recalls how emergency calls flooded in during Raleigh mass shooting



RALEIGH, N.C. — Thursday marks one week since a mass shooting clamed the lives of five people and injured two others in Raleigh’s Hedingham neighborhood.

WRAL News spoke with Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center telecommunicator Tracy La Cascia, who took some of the first surge of calls on Oct. 13. She dispatched emergency medical services and police to help those in need.

“At first, we didn’t know it was an officer-involved shooting,” La Cascia said.

La Cascia said she was at the end of her 12-hour day at Raleigh’s Emergency Communications Center.

City of Raleigh Operations Manager Jonathon Leal said he hasn’t seen anything like the mass shooting since he began working for the city in October 2008.

“It was a fairly routine Thursday,” Leal said before the calls started to flood in.

Soon, the phone lines in the room started to light up with people in the Hedingham neighborhood calling 911.

“This wasn’t a routine call,” Leal said.

Leal explained what caught his attention.

“I heard him yell across the room to one of the dispatchers that the shooter is on the move just the urgency in his voice,” Leal said.

La Cascia said dispatchers began to hear the words “active shooter” and that an officer was possibly involved.

“It was chaotic, but also everyone went laser-focused,” La Cascia said.

La Cascia said she wasn’t asked to stay to continue working, but there was not an option of going home.

“Time didn’t exist in those three hours,” La Cascia said.

La Cascia said it is not uncommon for dispatcher to get a shooting call.

“Hearing [there was an] active shooter, then he could be going onto the greenway trail, so he could be going anywhere, it’s scary to think he [was] on the loose,” La Cascia said.

For hours, dispatchers’ phones were lighting up with the goal of getting help to the scene as quickly as possible.

“It was [a] dynamic, ever-changing situation,” La Cascia said.

Leal said what stood out to him was that there were multiple victims at multiple sites.

“In an instant, fathers lost sons, husbands lost wives [and] people lost parents,” Leal said. “That is what stood out to me.”



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