Dispatch audio paints intense picture before San Jose officer killed

Cheryl Jennings Image
ByCheryl Jennings KGO logo
Thursday, March 26, 2015
SJ dispatch calls paint intense picture of fatal shooting
Police radio communications are painting an intense picture of what lead up to the fatal shooting of a San Jose officer, as police asked dispatchers about the mental health of the suspect and if he owned any guns.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The ABC7 News I-Team has been digging into the background of 57-year-old Scott Dunham, the man who killed San Jose Police Officer Michael Johnson, and discovered that he was arrested in 1996 for domestic violence. His wife reported that he had choked and hit her in their home. She told officers that Dunham had an alcohol problem and that he gets angry and violent after drinking.

That warning about Dunham's drinking issue sounds prophetic, in light of what ABC7 News has learned from listening to police radio communications leading up to Tuesday night's shooting.

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It all began when concerned family members asked officers to check on Dunham. And about 20 minutes elapsed between the time officers received that call and when Johnson was shot to death.

Dispatch audio: "Welfare check at 2664 Senter, cross of Balfour. Mom called the reporting party 3 ago, said 1051 Dad has a gun to his head and wants to 1056."

San Jose police use the code 1051 to describe someone who's intoxicated, 1056 means suicidal. That call came in around 6:47 p.m. Tuesday.

Dispatch audio: "He said he would kill her if she didn't leave. Dad's going to be Scott Dunham."

And Dunham's family told dispatchers this wasn't the first time he'd tried to kill himself.

Dispatch audio: "Five to six years ago, using pills,"

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One officer then asked if any guns were registered to Dunham.

Dispatch audio: "For the Lincoln units going on the welfare check there are no guns registered to this male."

But dispatchers warned officers about a history of mental problems.

Dispatch audio: "The dad takes lots of meds... thinks that the dad might be bipolar."

Officers learned more about Dunham when they arrived on scene.

Dispatch audio: "We believe that there are two handguns inside the residence. A nine-millimeter semi-auto and a .22."

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Officers kept a close eye on Dunham's apartment for several minutes.

Dispatch audio: "We have movement from the blinds in that apartment."

Dispatch audio: "The male just came out onto the balcony."

Seconds later, Dunham opened fire.

Dispatch audio: "Lincoln Ten, Officer Down, Lincoln Ten, Officer Down. Copy officer down. Officer down."

Dispatch audio: "Control 8400, we have multiple shots being fired."

Then one officer used the worst radio code of all -- signifying a fatality.

Dispatch audio: "6-1, 10-4, Officer is 1055."

A restaurant that's popular with San Jose police is holding a fundraiser to commemorate the fallen officer and raise money for his family. Brittania Arms will hold the fundraiser on April 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. at its location at 5027 Almaden Expressway. Manager Steve Moreno tells ABC7 News that all sales -- not profits or a percentage -- will go to the officer's family.

If you would like to extend your condolences to the officer's family and the San Jose Police Department, click here. We've posted a badge on Facebook for you to share, to honor his memory, and his service.

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