Shooter spotted in homicide case, with high-tech help
February 21st, 2012
Omaha, NE – Omaha police have attributed the successful capture of a suspect in Saturday nightâ€™s shooting to a new electronic device used to monitor gunshots in the Omaha metro area.
Fragments of caution tape remain outside of the home located at 4614 N 31st Avenue. On Saturday night, police discovered the body of Anthony J. Carter, 47, in the backyard of the home.
Police headed to the scene at around 11pm after hearing gunshots fired near the Northeast Omaha Precinct. But at first they went to 33rd and Paxton, a few blocks west. Thatâ€™s where they initially believed the shots came from. That changed however after dispatch received a notification of the shotâ€™s location from Omahaâ€™s newest device in the fight against violent crime: the ShotSpotter.
According to Officer Jacob Bettin, a spokesperson for the Omaha Police Department, the ShotSpotter helped police locate an armed suspect in the homicide.
â€œWe were heading in a different direction, ShotSpotter was able to direct us in the right area,â€ said Bettin.
After tracking the shots, officers found Thylun Hill, 32, fleeing the scene. After a failed attempt to jump a nearby fence, Hill fell and dropped a handgun. According to police reports, officers then opened fire, grazing Hillâ€™s knee. He was taken into custody shortly after.
â€œItâ€™s a very substantial tool, especially in this case,” explained Bettin. “Weâ€™re able to answer a lot of questions that sometimes take time. Had ShotSpotter not been used, would we still have had that opportunity to see a possible suspect or things of that nature? Or even be able to locate that victim quickly? All of those things combined make the ShotSpotter system valuable to us.â€
OPD first obtained the ShotSpotter system after receiving a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The system was first tested in October last year. Since then, several ShotSpotter systems have been installed discretely in high-crime areas throughout the metro. Bettin explained how the technology works to detect gunfire in different parts of town:
â€œIt triangulates sound waves, specifically from firearms, and is able to pinpoint through GPS where those gunshots are coming from,” he said. “That is obtained by installing, basically, microphones throughout an area. That information is then processed by the system and then sent to our dispatch for them to send officers to the area to investigate.â€
The ShotSpotter system has been installed in cities around the country. Bettin said itâ€™s been highly successful so far and has led to several arrests in Omaha. And as shootings will likely rattle neighborhoods around the city for the foreseeable future, Bettin said ShotSpotter will continue to provide a much-needed resource for Omaha police.
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