Lawrence police early Thursday responded to the home of former Police Chief Ron Olin after dispatchers received a call saying he was having a reaction to medication and he was firing a gun.
According to an audio recording of police and dispatcher radio traffic by Journal-World reporting partner Mike Frizzell, who operates Operation 100 News and monitors overnight police activity in the area, officers were sent at 2:46 a.m. Thursday to the southwest Lawrence home owned by Olin and his wife, Sylvie.
After a dispatcher said a person with a gun had fired five shots, police in 12 cars were sent to the home, as well as an ambulance.
“A person at the residence was experiencing a medical emergency, which resulted in a firearm being discharged,” Police Chief Tarik Khatib said Monday.
Khatib said that because the incident was classified as a medical emergency, the report was not required to be publicly released. With medical emergencies, the police department is also restricted by health information privacy laws, he said.
Attempts to reach Olin by phone and at his home Monday were not successful.
The 911 call
According to the recording, at one point during the 19-minute incident, a police supervisor at the scene asked a dispatcher to provide a summary of what she knew.
“OK, we got a 911 hangup. I called it back. I got the female. She said he’s on medication having a reaction. She said he was delusional, and he was yelling Signal 14 (police code for officer in distress). While I was on the phone with her telling her that we are on the way, she said he was out of it because of some medication reaction,” the dispatcher said. “I did hear the gun go off a couple of times. She told me he was shooting and to hurry, and she did hang up.”
About 40 seconds later, a woman emerged from the home, and police said she was with officers, according to the conversation between the dispatcher and police.
The dispatcher soon made contact with Olin.
“I’ve got Ron on the phone, and he’s saying that his wife was just kidnapped,” the dispatcher said. ‘‘ … He’s telling me that two men just kidnapped his wife. He’s telling me he’s in the back bedroom, and he doesn’t have a weapon is what he’s saying.”
During part of the conversation, the dispatcher said Olin was worried someone would try to break his back window and he would get shot in the back if he left the house. The dispatcher also said Olin told her “the bad guy gave him a weapon.” Then she said: “He dropped the phone and told me a guy’s in the kitchen.”
Seconds later, an officer can be heard saying he’s inside the residence. Then in about a minute, the supervisor says officers are OK and indicates Olin is with them.
A Lawrence Memorial Hospital spokeswoman confirmed that Olin was brought to the hospital Thursday and that he was no longer a patient there on Monday.
Last Thursday morning, the police department’s website noted the incident as a medical emergency. It did not list a police report number, indicating a criminal report was not taken, and it contained no names.
Khatib on Monday did not identify the parties in the incident, but he did defend the department’s response to the incident. He said that several officers were sent to the area based on the initial information in the call and that police gathered facts as the incident progressed and came to a conclusion.
“It was treated in an above-board way,” he said. “There was no preferential treatment.”
Khatib said police did document the incident in a report as a medical emergency. He said generally that police do often investigate incidents in which guns are fired in the city, which can be a crime. But the chief said for it to be illegal, the person firing the gun must have intent to fire it. There could be other circumstances, such as a medical emergency or an accident, that lead to a gun being fired, he said.
“If a crime is committed, we document it. If there’s no crime, we document it as well,” Khatib said, adding the report would not be forwarded to prosecutors because it was determined to be a medical incident.
Olin, who grew up in Lawrence, became a Lawrence police officer in 1971. He progressed through the ranks and in 1987 was named the city’s police chief. He held that post until 2010, when he retired to become director of security and internal controls at Kansas Athletics Inc. He resigned his position at Kansas University in summer 2011 to offer his part-time services as a consultant. He has taught courses at KU and Haskell Indian Nations University, and has taught courses on terrorism and counterterrorism to law enforcement officers across the country.