Authorities continue search for prank caller in Macomb manhunt - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Authorities continue search for prank caller in Macomb manhunt

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MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) -

(UPDATE: Macomb police have made an arrest in this case. Click here for the latest information on this story.)

A prank phone call to Macomb police last night lead to a five hour manhunt for an armed man that didn't exist.

After a long night of searches, evacuations and frustration, authorities are still searching for the person responsible for numerous emergency workers responding to 509 West Murray Street.

(See "Macomb Police: 911 call about gunman a hoax")

Jessica Shoopman, Director of the Macomb/McDonough County Communication Center, says it's frustrating to waste resources on a prank call.

"We call in additional staff to help field the calls that are eventually going to start coming in from the public and news media," Shoopman said. "They're always calling us because they don't know how to reach people out in the field and we have to field all those calls, while fielding all the other calls for service that public normally generates to our center."

Shoopman says while the situation was a headache, it's reassuring to know they are ready to handle a real event.

Police are still looking for the person responsible. They say the suspect faces felony charges of disorderly conduct, upgraded from a misdemeanor because of the resources dedicated to the call.  

Western Illinois University sent out an emergency text alert Wednesday night to notify students to avoid the area, which is just a few blocks from campus. But many say they didn't get that message.

Officials at WIU are reminding students they have to sign up to receive emergency alert text messages from their stars account on the school's website.

To keep as many students informed as possible, WIU Director of University Relations Darcie Shinberger urges all students to sign up immediately.

"Safety is our number one concern for our campus community and that's why we use the emergency alert system," Shinberger said. "We use it as a way to supplement the information to try and reach as many people as possible so they are aware of a situation that's ongoing on campus or close to campus."

Shinberger says it takes about five minutes to sign up. All you have to do is register your cell phone number and e-mail address. Staff and parents can also sign up for the alerts as well.

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