Woman Says 911 Call Was Put on Hold

Kathleen Burke fought off an intruder in her Northwest home Saturday afternoon

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A DC woman catches an intruder inside her home and chases him down the street. Derrick Ward explains why she says the worst part came after she called 911.

    A D.C. woman fought off an intruder at her home in Northwest D.C. Saturday afternoon and chased him for two blocks, but expressed disappointment that her 911 call was not picked up immediately.

    Kathleen Burke, who lives on Broad Branch Road, told News4's Derrick Ward that she was lying in bed with the flu when she heard her doorbell ring twice. That was followed shortly by the sound of someone coming in through the screened-in kitchen door.

    "For an instant I thought it must be my husband returning, and then I realized I hadn't heard his car," Burke said.

    Fifteen 911 Calls Abandoned in D.C. Saturday

    [DC] Fifteen 911 Calls Abandoned in D.C. Saturday
    News4's Mark Segraves has learned that 15 emergency calls in D.C. were abandoned Saturday.

    She found the intruder going through a desk and began screaming. The man grabbed Burke and threw her to the floor, but she responded with an elbow and chased the man out of the house. At the top of the stairs, she dialed 911 and was surprised to hear a recorded hold message on the other end.

    Burke told Ward that while she was on hold, she managed the chase the man down Broad Branch Road to Morrison Street and onto Nevada Avenue before a dispatcher picked up and advised her to return to her house.

    "What was really to me astonishing and terrifying was that the interval [between the 911 call and the dispatcher's answer] was sufficient that if this intruder had a weapon, there was sufficient time for this to escalate into a life-or-death situation," says Burke, who added that D.C. police responded "instantaneously" once the call went out, coming to her home with a crime scene investigation team and tracking dogs.

    Police have described the suspect has a man in his 50s standing between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall, clean-shaven with gray short braids, and weighing between 150 and 170 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray jacket.

    Burke said that she has contacted D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who also chairs the council's Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, as well as Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser. As of Sunday evening, she had not received an official response.

    "In my estimation," Burke said, "one of the primary responsibilities the District has to its citizens is for someone to pick up when someone calls 911."