MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) Myrtle Beach police officers spent more than half a day searching for a suspect making threatening calls to 911, only to find the suspect in an abandoned house.
Police reports obtained by WMBF News reveal police received dozens of calls from an unknown caller, going only by James, who threatened to light fires near businesses along 3rd Avenue South. Police and firefighters were dispatched to the area with each call, but never found a fire.
"I'd never seen anything like it," says Jack Zachara, owner of Queen's Deli, one of the businesses threatened in the 911 calls. "There were twelve or fourteen police cars outside."
Zachara says authorities continued to comb the area for their suspect, going long into the night.
"An additional four cars came in the nighttime. They were searching with flash lights around the area."
Police eventually noticed a light and sounds from a cell phone coming from an abandoned home off of 3rd Avenue. There they found forty-nine year old James Thomas McKee. McKee was arrested and charged with trespassing and unlawful use of 911.
Business owners in the area say they're relieved police took each call seriously, even though there was no indication of a fire. But they expressed frustration at the calls themselves, especially since each response cost valuable time and money for emergency services.
"That's costing too much," Zachara says. "It costs a lot, and he had almost every cop in Myrtle Beach looking for him."