LISTEN: 911 calls reveal panic caused by fake child abduction
"Somebody just pulled up in a van and stole a kid off a bench and drove off. It was a Dodge Caravan. It was silver. God, I'm like shaking right now. Oh my God."
Those were the words of a frantic mother who called 911 after witnessing - unbeknownst to her - a staged kidnapping at a park in Sequim, Wash. on Saturday.
"My son and the little boy were sitting on the bench right in front of us and they just pulled up, jumped out of the van, grabbed the little boy and took off," the woman anxiously told the 911 operator.
Everything she was saying was true. Two masked men in a minivan pulled up to the park, one man jumped out, grabbed a toddler and took off. What she and other bystanders didn't know was that one of the masked men was the toddler's father, the mother was in on it, and it was all staged.
Towards the end of the two and a half minute call, the "kidnapped" toddler's mother is heard in the background explaining that it was just pretend.
The men later returned, too, and explained the incident was recorded to create a video for social media on child abduction and prevention awareness. The men have a YouTube channel on which they post videos of them performing pranks, according to CBS affiliate KIRO.
"Are you kidding me?! What the hell?!," the woman who called 911 to report the apparent abduction is heard screaming on the call after the men returned in their van. "Are you kidding me?! That's not funny! That just scared the sh** out of us!"
"This is wrong!"
That wasn't the only panicked 911 call made to report the incident.
Another woman called, screaming, "Put an Amber Alert out!"
Shortly afterwards the "kidnapped" toddler's mother gets on the phone.
"Hi, we already called the police and let them know we were doing a research project to see how people would react in this situation," she tells the operator.
Indeed, the people behind the prank did call police to inform them of it 3 to 4 minutes before they put their plan into effect, but it was in no way approved, Sequim Police Chief Bill Dickinson told CBS News' Crimesider Thursday.
"We're doing a kidnapping awareness video for YouTube and we're going to be doing it at the park. We're going to try to let as many people know as possible so, like, you know, people don't get upset or call the cops or whatever. We just kind of wanted to call in and let you guys know in case a phone call came in," one of the pranksters said in the call to police.
"We'll go ahead and let the officers know," the man who answered the call said after asking a couple questions about the time and place the video was being filmed.
But by the time police could make it to the park to try to stop the "kidnapping" from unfolding, the 911 calls had already started coming in.
By the time the third 911 call was made, the operator stopped the woman from recounting the frightening events almost immediately, saying, "M'am slow down. We're getting a lot of these calls. There's a person down there filming this. This is supposed to be some kind of a set-up deal."
"I'm sorry. Scared the hell out of me. Never mind then," the caller says, gasping for breath.
Police are continuing to interview people involved in the situation and they will present their findings to the city prosecutor who will decide whether or not charges are warranted, Chief Dickinson told Crimesider.
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