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Audio: Terrified Parents of Ali Syed Call 9-1-1 After Shotgun Blast

Police release the taped phone call and the photo of Courtney Aoki, 20, Syed's alleged first victim.

ABOVE, hear the 9-1-1 recording of Ali Syed's parents reporting gunfire in their house.

"Somebody's shot... I heard a gunshot," his mother tells an emergency dispatcher.

"I think they got into a fight or something, and we heard a gunshot," his father says. "My son is younger, he sometimes has friends over, I don't know all the details at this point."

"We were asleep, we heard something, it sounded like a gunshot," the father said. "It came down, I don't know, I didn't want to get involved right now I'm just saying—."

When the dispatcher asks him to go into Syed's room, the father refuses.

Police say Syed, 20, a part-time Saddleback College student living in his parents' Ladera Ranch home, used a 12-gauge shotgun to kill three people and then himself Tuesday.

Authorities say Syed shot 20-year-old Courtney Aoki of Buena Park multiple times, killing her inside his Ladera Ranch home early Tuesday morning.

In 2010, at age 18, Aoki participated in a summer acting program put on by the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

Police released a photo of Jeremy Lewis, 27, a construction worker Syed shot and killed near the Micro Center at Edinger Avenue in Santa Ana.

Law enforcement spent three hours Wednesday in autopsy. Toxicology tests will not be available for another six to eight weeks, Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jim Amormino said.

Video Game-Playing Loner

A former student of Junipero Serra continuation school in San Juan Capistrano, the 20-year-old Syed was unemployed and took one class at Saddleback College on computer maintenance, Amormino said.

He lived in the first floor of his parents' Ladera Ranch home. They lived on the third floor, Amormino said.

Syed's extensive free time was spent alone in his room playing video games, Amormino said. He did not know how many hours a day Syed spent playing these game, and would not say what games Syed played.

The shotgun used in the spree was legally purchased by Syed’s father about a year ago, Amormino said.

No illegal drugs were found in Syed’s room, Amormino said.

Deputies have yet to confirm Syed’s relationship to Aoki. Aoki’s occupation was not confirmed by police Wednesday.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? TELL US IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.

Dan Avery February 22, 2013 at 06:01 AM
That's cause JustUs be a bigot Shri. We can't go banning what the bigots say. No Penny and everyone else would lose their jobs.
Dan Avery February 22, 2013 at 06:02 AM
Whoa, play games and hire strippers? Where's the problem? I've been trying to get that life going for 47 years. And I'm still not there.
Dan Avery February 22, 2013 at 06:05 AM
Seriously Shawna? You're gonna defend JustUs? Have you critically read his comments? Seriously? jb isn't the problem here. JustUs, you bet. Man isn't really a citizen and evidently Johnny Utah is really female. When these folks are not being real and straight with us...and you defend that? Whoa . One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small and the one that mother gives you doesn't do anything at all, go ask Alice when she's ten feet tall. And if you go chasing rabbits and you know you're going to fall...
Peter Schelden (Editor) February 22, 2013 at 07:46 AM
Folks, let me be very clear: This story is about two parents calling the police after they heard what sounds like their 20-year-old child kill someone with a shotgun. Surely that is more important than exactly which comments are deleted and why on Patch. For the moment, and for the sake of decorum if not decency, please discuss what has actually happened.
Gregory Duffin February 22, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Facts are the parents failed in parenting. You take away guns , than only government and criminals have guns. Socieity has fallen. If Palistine put down all their weapons, there would be no more war or conflict in Israel. If Israel put down all their weapons there would be no Israel. Sandy Hook... a real gun went off down the street from man killing his girl friend at a fast food place than everyone ran next door to the theatre where the shooter followed but was shot by a off duty Deputy. The media refused to run anything about it, too busy taking acting classes.
OC Mom February 22, 2013 at 05:56 PM
The 911 Dispatcher is an idiot. Dispatch an officer already and stop grilling for the family to continue to repeat details that they've already told her. Very annoying and just another reason why every law abiding citizen should have a gun to protect themselves. Good luck getting a quick response when you have someone like this continuing to question you when you might have someone trying to get into your home or already in your home.
Peter Schelden (Editor) February 22, 2013 at 06:07 PM
Thanks for your comment, OC Mom. The fact is, Ali Syed's dad did own a gun, which he legally purchased about a year ago and apparently gave to his son. It's the one that was used in the murder spree, according to police. The dispatcher does continue to ask the same questions, but she's trying to keep the parents on the phone before deputies arrive--some of this is unclear in the audio above, which has been edited from its original 6 minutes down to about 2.
LeAna Bui February 22, 2013 at 06:30 PM
OC Mom: It is common practice by 911 dispatchers to keep informants on the line while deputies are in transit in these kinds of situations so they can continually update their system so the deputies arriving on scene can be as forearmed as possible. I'd be curious to know - how long from the time of the call to the arrival of deputies at the scene?
Peter Schelden (Editor) February 22, 2013 at 07:24 PM
Good question LeAna. The call is six minutes, 41 seconds long and it ends when deputies apparently arrived.
LeAna Bui February 22, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Thank you, Peter. Six minutes and 41 seconds...... So if I had a gun in my home locked safely away from the locked ammunition, how long would it take for me to gather the keys to both locks, gather the gun and ammunition, load the weapon so I could then confront the intruder?? This is all assuming I don't run into the intruder as I wander through my home gathering my gun and ammunition. And in this case, would I, in my fear, accidentally shoot a loved-one?
LeAna Bui February 22, 2013 at 07:41 PM
My heart goes out to all of the families affected by these tragic circumstances.
Shawn Walsh February 28, 2013 at 05:41 PM
LeAna Bui . . . "So if I had a gun in my home . . ." Agreed. Interested in what JustUs has to say about that . . .
OC Mom February 28, 2013 at 06:10 PM
Yes, Peter Syed's family should have had the gun locked up and inaccessible to him. That was a mistake. I'm merely stating that the lag time between a call placed to 911 and an actual response from armed deputies can be considerable. I read a story about a month ago about someone who entered a home with a mom and two kids inside. The person continued to pursue the family and break thru locked doors to get to them. It was a chilling story. Mom and kids locked in bedroom, then bathroom, then up in attic crawl space all the while on the phone with 911 with this intruder pursuing them. Finally, the mom ended up killing the intruder with a shot gun I believe because despite their begging him to leave he continued to come after them. That's why I think citizen's have the right to bear arms. It's in the constitution and we shouldn't have to be dependent on the Government for protection. Syed's father wasn't a responsible gun owner and we still don't have all of the facts on Syed's mental condition or if he had a diagnosis of a learning disability which caused his anger and frustration with life. It's also interesting how the many gun regulations that Leanna describes also seem to hurt the ability of citizens to protect themselves and force them to be dependent on the Government. There must be a balance.
JustUs February 28, 2013 at 06:21 PM
My answer to LeAna, Shawn? That's simple. Those who have youngsters in the home should either invest in a cheap safety lock for their gun that prevents it from firing - or store it in a gun safe. To access the weapon in time of need it would only take a few seconds. One doesn't need to store the gun and ammo in different locations, or take an inordinate amount of time loading it. LeAna is exaggerating. Either that or she knows next to nothing about firearms. I would recommend for her to take a short course so that she knows more about them before coming on-line and discussing what is needed or not needed to operate one. Enjoy your day.
Greg Hampsten March 01, 2013 at 04:42 PM
The father should be prosecuted for allowing his son get hold of the gun. Has anyone heard anything.
Peter Schelden (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 05:14 PM
I'm looking into that, Greg.
JustUs March 01, 2013 at 06:19 PM
No way could they prosecute the father. First off, he did not willfully provide the shotgun to his adult son. Parents generally don't keep their guns locked away from their adult children without good reason. Secondly, he probably had no foreknowledge that his son would be capable of or carry out such a crime. Maybe is his son had been convicted of violent felonies. But I haven't even heard that Syed had any previous contact with the police, let alone a conviction. Until America starts to take mental illness seriously these events will continue to happen unabated. Untreated mental illness is the cause of 90% of these publicized rampage murders. I have no idea what went on in that household. Neither do any of you. But for argument's sake, let's say Syed's father was a bad father. If the justice system jailed bad parents we would have more people in jail than out on the streets. Furthermore, if the justice system punished parents for the actions of their adult children it would take 15 years to hear a court case. I guess the families of the victims could try to take civil action against the father. But I suspect even that would be an uphill battle.
Peter Schelden (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 06:59 PM
I think civil action is a very likely next step, J.U.
Yeparoo March 01, 2013 at 07:00 PM
Peter, were any other 9-1-1 calls received by the OCSD before the one from the Syed's? Too much see no evil, hear no evil, hit and run behavior from this family.
Peter Schelden (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 07:05 PM
@Yeparoo: This was the first 9-1-1 call OCSD received from Ladera Ranch since 12:49 that morning. There was a four-hour gap of no emergency calls prior to this one. So I think it's safe to say this was the only call to OCSD related to the initial murder.
JustUs March 01, 2013 at 07:13 PM
For what? Not keeping his firearm locked up in his own home? There is no law that requires that, especially when there were no underaged children in the home. His son had no criminal history that I've read about. I'm sure if he did it would have been publicized by your media. There is even no mention of a simple police contact. So there was no apparent indication that Syed was a danger to others. In fact, in one of your articles it was stated that he acted very politely and nicely around others. There is nothing to indicate that Syed's father gave the weapon to his adult son. So let's say Syed's father legally owned a butcher's knife. His son grabbed it and started stabbing people on the street. Would the father be liable for his adult son's actions? I don't think so. Why would you blame the father for his son's actions? Especially when it was apparently totally unforeseen? How exactly, as a reporter, did you reach your conclusion, Peter? Just curious?
Peter Schelden (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 07:22 PM
@J.U: Not because the father is necessarily responsible, but simply because that's the way these cases tend to play out. America is a litigious country and since the gun was registered under the father's name, my guess is that one (or several/all) of the victims will argue in court that he is responsible. I'm not clear on whether the father bought the shotgun for Ali or not. One news report said the gun was a gift. The gun is registered under the father's name and Ali apparently had access to it. Whether Ali kept it with him, if it was meant for his use, all of this I cannot say.
JustUs March 01, 2013 at 07:39 PM
"@J.U: Not because the father is necessarily responsible, but simply because that's the way these cases tend to play out." Why didn't you say that? It's not the father's fault. It's because of a out-of-control legal system that allows litigation that has no business entering a courtroom. But there are countersuits, as well. So there is a way to fight back and many people do just that. "I'm not clear on whether the father bought the shotgun for Ali or not." I have seen absolutely no proof or even an indication that the father bought the shotgun for his son. None. And until we see documented proof of that we should not speculate. The shotgun was apparently registered to the father. If he bought it for his son why would he register in his own name? That's not even believeable. Besides, if someone purchased a gun for another person, and it was legal for that other person to possess or to own a gun, and that other person later committed a crime with that gun, are you saying that the purchaser would be held accountable for making that gift? If you do, I disagree. " Whether Ali kept it with him, if it was meant for his use, all of this I cannot say." Well, if you cannot say, why would you even speculate? Someone could speculate that the father conspired with the son to commit the murderous ramapage. Would you even listen to such speculation without any evidence or even probable cause to show it actually happened? You are a reporter and fact-based, correct?
Peter Schelden (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 08:17 PM
@J.U. The Saddleback student newspaper asserted the shotgun was purchased for Ali as a gift: "The weapon used Tuesday morning by Ali Syed was a .12-gauge pump action shotgun that was purchased a year ago and given to him as a gift from his father." http://www.lariatnews.com/news/update-ali-syed-s-first-victim-courtney-aoki-20-was-allegedly-shot-in-the-face-1.2812106#.UTEMN-sjrEk
Peter Schelden (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 08:20 PM
@J.U. "If someone purchased a gun for another person, and it was legal for that other person to possess or to own a gun, and that other person later committed a crime with that gun, are you saying that the purchaser would be held accountable for making that gift?" I am making no such assertion.
JustUs March 01, 2013 at 08:39 PM
"@J.U. The Saddleback student newspaper asserted the shotgun was purchased for Ali as a gift: "The weapon used Tuesday morning by Ali Syed was a .12-gauge pump action shotgun that was purchased a year ago and given to him as a gift from his father." And from what proof source did they obtain this information, Peter? It's not cited, right? I never believe anything I read as fact unless it is confirmed and documented. And why haven't any of the big media news print souces picked up on this? Why would you place any credence in this assertion by a news source that does not disclose where they obtained this information? I would appreciate you reply as a news reporter. Thank you.
JustUs March 01, 2013 at 09:01 PM
"I am making no such assertion." Think about this, Peter. If Subject #1 purchased a gun in California and gifted that gun to his friend or relative (Subject #2) without legally transferring that weapon to Subject #2 - to the best of my knowledge that constitutes a violation of the California's penal code. To my knowledge such a transaction must to go through a licensed firearms dealer or appropriate authorities. Now, I assume that if a local media source somehow knew that Syed's father gifted a gun to his son that was later used as a murder weapon, that the local police authorities would know about this as well. Is that safe to assume? And if a violation of the law occurred, especially when it came to the transfer of a weapon that was used in the commission of a homicide(s), I would assume that the police would take action against the suspected parties involved. Do you think that is a safe assumption, Peter? Have the police arrested Syed's father? If they did I certainly haven't heard about it.
Peter Schelden (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 09:22 PM
@J.U. (and this will have to be my last response, for the sake of time). "It's not cited, right?" Correct. "I never believe anything I read as fact unless it is confirmed and documented." I didn't say anything as to the verity of this claim, only that it has been reported, which it has. "Why would you place any credence in this assertion..." I do not give it particular credence. The way I would characterize the possible gifting of the shotgun is that it remains to be determined. "I assume that if a local media source somehow knew that Syed's father gifted a gun to his son that was later used as a murder weapon, that the local police authorities would know about this as well. Is that safe to assume?" Not necessarily. This assumes "the local police authorities" think with one unified, hive mind. Not necessarily so. This is all part of an ongoing and lengthy investigation with many working parts. One investigator might have revealed to the Lariat reporter something unknown to others in the sheriff's department. "And if a violation of the law occurred, especially when it came to the transfer of a weapon that was used in the commission of a homicide(s), I would assume that the police would take action against the suspected parties involved." Potentially, yes, but not necessarily. I'd have to ask the district attorney about that, and so far their office has not said anything to that effect. "Have the police arrested Syed's father?" Not to my knowledge, no.
JustUs March 01, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Thank you for your reply, Peter. Personally, I cannot take a news source seriously that does not cite the source of quite as astounding assertion. In fact, I disregard the statement completely until I am told where the assertion originated. And I would not believe the source unless it was credible. And I have never been a journalist. It would be difficult for me to believe that the police would not at least follow up on information posed by a journalist (if they did not have the information beforehand), especially if the crime involved multiple murders. And if there were others who committed crimes that may have been either directly or indirectly responsible for the murders I would find it hard to believe that the police would not take immediate action against such individuals. We are not talking property theft here, Peter. We are talking multiple murders of innocent people. On the other hand if no other crimes were committed that were prosecutable, no one else would be arrested or charged. The fact is that if certain firearms are gifted to someone in California without being LEGALLY transferred through proper means by a licensed firearms dealer and/or other authorities - it is a crime. Let's make no mistake about that one. Thanks for the discussion, Peter. I respect the fact that a reporter like yourself is willing to offer input on these various topics.
Claudia March 07, 2013 at 10:23 PM
I totally agree with you. His parents are absolute idiots and should be held liable. What father in their right mind buys a disfunctional teenage kid a shotgun???!!! It is absolutely UNBELIEVABLE!!!! I hope everyone is also aware of Mrs. Syed's hit and run accident a couple of years ago (where she was at fault). It was featured on KFI AM radio most recently. Mrs. Syed almost killed a mother and her 3 year old child (who sufferered many operations to hopefully recover) and fled the scene of the accident. The police were able to find her because she made an insurance claim on the damages of her car shortly afterwards. She is unethical, these people should bow their heads in shame. God bless the poor innocent victims of their violent son. It is they and their families who are in pain today. It is the victims who should be remembered and be prayed for.

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