‘I don’t know how to handle this’: SAPD dispatch supervisors forced to step in during airport shooting call

Officers forced to assign themselves to call Thursday afternoon, records show

San Antonio police officers were forced to assign themselves to a shooting call at San Antonio International Airport Thursday, after a series of errors from a dispatcher, records and audio obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders show.

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio police officers were forced to assign themselves to a shooting call at San Antonio International Airport Thursday, after a series of errors from a dispatcher, records and audio obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders show.

After Airport Police toned out a ‘shots fired’ call citywide Thursday afternoon, the dispatcher called a supervisor and said she did not know what to do, according to a critical incident checklist.

The dispatcher, according to the report, did not have a keycard for the call, which would have allowed her to assign officers to it.

Instead, the report states, officers started dispatching themselves to the airport.

“I don’t know how to handle this. I’ve never done this before,” the dispatcher said during a brief call to a supervisor. The Defenders obtained a copy of the call following the shooting.

A San Antonio Park Police officer, identified Friday as 11-year veteran John Maines, shot a man around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, after the man drove into the airport terminal going the wrong way and then opened fire at the officer and the building after being confronted. The man then died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said on Friday.

The suspect, a 46-year-old man who had still not been identified as of Friday afternoon, was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital.

SAPD officials said they believe he was the same suspect who fired several shots from a highway overpass about four hours before he was shot and killed during the airport incident.

SAPD Chief William McManus said Thursday police were familiar with the man because of previous interactions and said the man had “mental issues.”

Two people were taken to the hospital for injuries suffered during the incident at the airport. One person may have been hit by shrapnel during the shooting, while a second person was injured while running away from the area during the gunfire, McManus said.

An SAPD spokeswoman on Friday afternoon said she was working on responding to the Defenders’ request about the dispatcher incident.

The after action review shows a supervisor was forced to intervene so that the dispatcher could see the shooting call on her screen and begin assigning officers.

“Dispatcher (redacted) should be aware that when working North patrol, she is also in charge of assisting Airport when needed,” the report states.

The dispatcher was given an employee discussion worksheet, a form of a write-up, records show.


About the Authors:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Joshua Saunders is an Emmy award-winning photographer/editor who has worked in the San Antonio market for the past 20 years. Joshua works in the Defenders unit, covering crime and corruption throughout the city.