A First Listen To 911 Tapes During 1997 Phelon Shooting

By: Kristen Cosby
By: Kristen Cosby

November 4, 2005
Only on 12, we’re hearing for the first time the 9-1-1 calls from people inside the Phelon Plant during Wise’s shooting. The calls reveal the fear workers inside the building experienced. But despite that, these callers helped guide sheriff’s officers and ambulances to the scene.

Operator: Aiken County 911
Caller: We need help here at R.E. Phelon. We got a man with a gun.
Operator: Okay, in front of the building?
Caller: He got through security. He's in the building now, but…
Operator: He shot through the security guard?
Caller: Yes, he's in the building with a gun

Dozens of calls just like that come from workers inside the R.E. Phelon Plant when Hastings Wise starts his shooting spree. Some of the rampage unfolds on the phone.

Operator: Do you see anybody?
Caller: No man, I haven't seen anybody, but I heard the shots fired.
Operator: Okay
Caller: They're still shooting. I just heard another one.

Soon, more callers understand how big this situation is. They let emergency workers know what to prepare for.

Caller: We need ambulances, 3 or 4 of them. Two men I know are down. We’ve had about 40 shots fired.

Some workers lock themselves inside offices for protection, calling family members who fill in important information.

Caller: My brother-in-law has locked himself in a room to keep from getting shot.

This woman’s brother-in-law knows the shooter.

Caller: Hastings Wise. They fired this man a couple of months ago.

The caller’s brother-in-law even recognizes the weapon.

Caller: He’s got a 9-millimeter. That’s what he’s shooting.

And some callers dial in but are too scared to speak up. One woman barely whispers.

Operator: 911 Do you have an emergency?
Caller: I'm inside the Phelon building.
Operator: You're inside the Phelon building?
Caller: Please help us. Please send somebody.

You may not have caught that last line, but the whisper says “Please help us, please send somebody.”

Help comes soon, but the calls continue. A brave employee in Human Resources calls 911 to help get police inside the plant through a back door.

Caller: If the police are here, tell them to go in by the cooling towers. There’s a door there.

This caller is close to two co-workers Wise shot.

Caller: Leonard was shot in the chest. He’s completely unconscious. He’s not dead. The other guy, Hollard, he’s bleeding.

The unconscious one, Leonard Filyaw, died later along with three others: Charles Griffeth, David Moore and Sheryl Moore. But perhaps the calls of their co-workers, locked in offices hiding and whispering, saved others.


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