The city of Aurora admits mistake leads to the wrong reverse notification call being sent

Call was supposed to warn about murder suspect

AURORA, Colo. - The city of Aurora admits someone made a mistake when residents received an incorrect reverse notification call on Wednesday night.

As police were searching for an 18-year-old suspect in a homicide in the 2600 block of South Lima Street, dispatchers sent out a reverse notification call that warned about a loud noise from a controlled detonation at 1690 Paris Street, seven miles away.

"I went and looked up the address and realized it was far north of the city and I didn't really give it much thought," said Aurora resident Andrea Beesley. "Shortly after that I started hearing helicopters."

The actual phone call was supposed to provide a description of Isabella Guzman, a teen wanted in connection with her mom's murder earlier that evening.

The recording about the detonation was originally from July 2012, when police were making entrance into James Holmes' apartment after the Aurora theater shooting.

On Friday night, the city confirmed with 7NEWS it was an operator error.

"Ultimately, it was human error. There was a mistake made," said Deputy Aurora City Manager Michelle Wolfe. "The text and email message had the correct information about the incident, but there was an error that occurred in the voice portion of that message."

According to Wolfe, dispatchers alerted 5,500 contacts -- phone calls, text messages and emails -- in a mile-and-a-half radius from the 2600 block of South Lima Street. Those who signed up for texts and emails received accurate information. Those who received the phone call were warned about the detonation.

7NEWS wanted to know why that message from 13 months ago was still in the system and able to accidentally get sent out.

"There are templates still in the system to be used in order to do that rather than start from scratch," said Wolfe. "It has now been purged from the system and we will be definitely examining that process."

"I think that system is something, obviously, that's meant to be used only in emergencies and when that happens the people that they're calling really need the right information," said Beesley.

After receiving the incorrect phone call, Beesley called dispatchers to find out why she was hearing a helicopter over her neighborhood. She was then given the description of the murder suspect.

"They asked me to call if I saw her, but they didn't mention that she was considered armed and dangerous or to stay inside," said Beesley.

7NEWS has learned that it was phone calls like Beesley's that alerted dispatchers that someone made a mistake.

"It's not OK for people, not only to be getting the wrong information, but for them not to know that people are getting the wrong information until citizens are just trying to call them," said Beesley.

"They thought they corrected the error," said Wolfe. "We'll be looking at; is there additional training we should do? Should we be working with the vendor for some enhancements to helping error prevention?"

Police arrested Guzman on Thursday afternoon outside of a parking garage near Parker Road and Havana Street, less than a mile from the murder scene.

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