Dispatcher talks suspect through hostage situation

Petrea. (Source: Scott Garrand/WCIV)

By Stacy

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) -- When the owner of a Goose Creek convenience store was allegedly held hostage last week, a dispatcher on the phone guided the suspect through the ordeal. The man behind the voice was Bill Petrea, a 20-year veteran of Goose Creek communications.

In the call, listeners can hear Petrea speak on the phone to suspect Chris Flowers: "Tell me what's going on today."

Petrea said he was called in first to the communications center and then went out to the scene. That was where he spent the majority of his time on the phone with Flowers. He said it worked; he developed a good rapport with Flowers in a short amount of time.

"I wanted a quick resolution but I knew pushing the suspect would move us in the opposite direction," he said. "I was making sure he understood that the only reason I was talking to him was because I wanted to see it come to a peaceful end."

From there, Petrea said he worked to find out the situation inside the store.

"His hands hurt," Flowers told Petrea on the phone.

"What do you mean by hurt?"

"I think he got grazed," Flowers said.

Petrea said the case was the first time he dealt with a hostage situation as a dispatcher. He said he used his experience with people with suicidal tendencies to talk to Flowers.

"Just listen to what they have to say," Petrea said. "Once you've built that and they have the opportunity to say it, then you can gradually work toward peaceful or positive resolution of the call."

On the 911 call, Petrea told Flowers his goal.

"I got a bunch of police officers out there and no one wants to get hurt. We just want you to come out and we want it to end peacefully," he said.

He said they took it step by step to guide Flowers out.

"Listen to me, Chris. I want you to walk out the door with your hands straight in the air," Petrea said on the 911 call.

He said he learned a lesson that he can use if there is a next time.

"Stay calm during the whole situation and he'll do that as well," he said.

The store owner, Gias Uddin, called Petrea his hero, adding without him, he wouldn't be alive.

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