Teen Being Robbed Calls 911, Talks to Her Mom

Teri Clark, a New Orleans dispatcher, handles most harrowing call of her career
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2022 10:10 AM CST
Teen Being Robbed Calls 911, Talks to Her Mom
Tenia Hill hugs mom Teri Clark.   (YouTube/WDSU)

In the annals of memorable 911 calls, this one stands out. When 16-year-old Tenia Hill called police in New Orleans to report a robbery in progress, her own mother answered, reports WDSU. Tenia had been working her part-time job at a McDonald's when an armed robber forced her and the other employees into a walk-in freezer. "Mama, can you please send a police officer right now to McDonald's?" Tenia asks 911 dispatcher Teri Clark in the audio recording obtained by the Washington Post. "Where at?" Clark asks. Tenia answers, "At my job, Mama!"

Clark recalls how she had to try to stay calm and get the necessary information from her daughter, while also fearing for her girl's safety. "When my child told me that they was locked up in the freezer, I guess the mama part of me panicked, but the operator in me knew, 'Hell, I've got to get help to my child,'" she tells the Post. In the end, it appears nobody was hurt. Police arrived at the McDonald's and freed the workers—by then, the robber was gone—and Clark drove there herself to make sure her daughter was OK.

"I processed the call like I normally do with any other citizen that's calling," Clark tells the Post, "but I knew it was my child. I was trying to remain calm." Tenia, for her part, says she was relieved to hear her mother's voice at such a tense time—and it nearly didn't happen. The call came in about 8pm on Oct. 17, an hour after Clark's shift had ended. However, she had stayed late to help an understaffed later shift. "We answer each and every call with passion, purpose, and professionalism—even when it is our own family," the head of the dispatch system tells CNN in praising Clark. No arrests have been made. (More 911 call stories.)

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