Police: Penn Township man was 'lonely,' so he called 911

Paul Peirce
| Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, 10:08 p.m.

A Penn Township man who repeatedly telephoned 911 to report emergencies but told first responders he called “because he was lonely” was arraigned on Wednesday on charges of making false reports to authorities.

Gregory L. Shaffer, 52, is charged by township police with telephoning Westmoreland County Emergency Management dispatchers three times on July 30 seeking help at his Ironwood Drive home only to give a different story when emergency personnel arrived.

Shaffer telephoned dispatchers at 4:20 p.m. and said he needed help because he had fallen down the stairs, injuring his head and neck, Officer Joseph Lewis reported. When emergency medical technicians arrived, they found an “intoxicated” Shaffer waiting inside his home, Lewis reported in an affidavit of probable cause.

“After Mr. Shaffer was speaking with the Rescue 6medics, he admitted that he lied and only called 911 because he was lonely and needed someone to talk to,” Lewis wrote.

Emergency personnel gave Shaffer numbers for local crisis hotlines and warned him that people are permitted to telephone 911 only to report emergencies.

About two hours after the first call, Lewis alleges, Shaffer telephoned 911 again, and dispatchers transferred the call to police. Lewis said when Shaffer spoke with police, he again admitted he had called because he was lonely.

Lewis said officers warned him a second time that 911 is to be used only in emergencies.

At 8:34 p.m., Shaffer telephoned 911 a third time, telling dispatchers he wanted to be taken to a hospital emergency room, Lewis reported.

“When on the scene, (Lewis) asked Mr. Shaffer if he wanted to harm himself or others, and he informed me that he did not. ... He informed me that he did not want to talk to a doctor,” Lewis wrote.

“He said he just wants someone to talk to because he is lonely. (Shaffer) informed me that he lied to 911 so the paramedics would show up,” Lewis wrote.

Shaffer was arraigned before Harrison City District Judge Helen Kistler and ordered to the county prison after failing to post $75,000 bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday before Kistler.

Paul Peirce is a reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at ppeirce@tribweb.com or 724-850-2860.

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