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No Charges Will Be Pressed Against Mark Fitch for Babette Court Episode

Oak Forest Police Chief Greg Anderson said no criminal charges will be filed against Mark Fitch, the man behind a phony standoff situation in Oak Forest last week.

Updated April 29, 11:25 a.m.

Mark Fitch, the man who prompted in Oak Forest, will not face any criminal charges.

"There was no criminal act committed," said Oak Forest Police Chief Greg Anderson. "There's nothing for us to charge him for."

Fitch, 44, was taken into custody Thursday, April 21, after a standoff situation unfolded that night involving about 100 police officers and emergency staff from Oak Forest and 20 surrounding suburbs. The original call came into police as a man reportedly intoxicated, threatening harm to himself and others, with firearms in his possession.

After five hours of attempts at contact with Fitch and negotiations by phone, police blasted the house at 5544 Babette Court with tear gas and stormed in, but Fitch was not inside. It was discovered he was speaking with police via a cell phone, police said. Just before midnight, he was found at Beggars Pizza on Cicero Avenue, police said. Anderson was unclear what was said to negotiators, but did confirm that Fitch did not say he was not inside the house.

"They assumed he was in the house, he did not indicate he wasn't in the house," Anderson said. "There was no direct statement, nothing there that indicated he was bluffing."

The call originally came in from a friend, who was concerned that Fitch would harm himself or others. Anderson called it a suicide check, or hostage check.

About a dozen neighbors were evacuated from their homes in the early evening as police from throughout the south suburbs descended on the neighborhood. Units from Hazel Crest, Homewood, Tinley Park, Chicago Heights and nearby areas responded. Emergency vehicles lined Central Avenue on both sides.

While estimates of the overall cost to the city came in at roughly $55,000, Anderson said the cost to the police department was $4,000.

"My initial reaction is, there's nothing for us to go after him for," Anderson said.

That night Mayor Hank Kuspa, who was on the scene in the command center, called the hostage standoff a "hoax." But Deputy Police Chief David DeMarco the next day said he would not call the situation a "hoax."

After his arrest, Fitch was taken to Palos Community Hospital for evaluation.

Matt Aggen April 28, 2011 at 08:56 PM
Hmm... I wonder if there's any legal avenues that the city can take to recoup the costs of this incident. But then again, I guess it depends on if it was an intentional hoax.
Jen April 29, 2011 at 02:43 AM
Whomever made the call needs to be held responsible for their actions. The cost to the involved cities must be recouped by this person and not the taxpayers. If nothing is done about it, more people may be inclined to do similiar acts without fear of repercussion. Where is the justice for the people evacuated from their homes? It is not right if the guilty party gets away scot free. How can there not be a law against false 911 calls?
Baba Wawa April 29, 2011 at 04:16 AM
There is a law for false 911 calls, but how can you prove the person that called 911 did it intentionally to be false or a hoax? The person that initiated it had a genuine concern about Fitch. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
frank April 29, 2011 at 05:39 AM
Will not press charges. Of course not. Are you going to repair the house? Boy, the mayor and chief are acting different now. Why did he have to go through an examination at Palos ? They wanted him to look like he was not sane. I hope all your shoulders have healed from all the pats on the back you were giving each other. Let me know were to send the towels if you still have egg on your faces.
Sue S. April 29, 2011 at 02:53 PM
The Chief of Police has all the responsibility for calling in the special task force prior to determining first-hand that there was a real crititcal incident! There is no fault with the person who called into 911 with a legitimate concern; and there was no fault with Fitch not acknowledging he wasn't in the home. Honestly, most everyone would have done what he did if they saw on television such activity outside their own front door. When the Village's Chief of Police calls in SSERT under the guise of a " possible hostage situation", he actually turns over command to the SSERT Commander and their tactics have shown to be extreme with many improprieties against citizen's rights. That is why they always evacuate the neighborhood, so there are no witnesses to their tactics. All of the 34 south suburban communities that sponsor SSERT should question when and why your Chief of Police employs them; and determine if there was a true basis for that decision because the use of SSERT has proven recently to be lethal and ends up costing our communities way more than just the annual dues that the community pays to have them available. Yes, the community is going to pay for the damages done to Fitch's home; but, at least this expensive lesson has the potential for a positive outcome of putting restraints on the Chief of Police who have been calling out SSERT for false issues that should have been handled by their own expertise.
bob April 29, 2011 at 09:21 PM
The question is if Fitch knew about the "stand-off" in front of his house?!? If so, why didn't he say that he ok? Why didn't he tell the police that he safe? According to previous reports, the police were negotiating and asked him to surrender via phone; why didn't he surrender? If the reports are correct, he allowed this go on for much longer than it should have. He was withholding information, wasn't he? If he would have responded appropriately, his house wouldn't have been damaged by the police. The police & city are taking their responsibility for their actions, shouldn't Fitch.
Sue S. April 29, 2011 at 11:04 PM
We can speculate all we want; but, we don't have access to the actual conversations that transpired. Very likely, if the police had any grounds at all to believe that Fitch was intentionally stringing them along, it would have been revealed instead of having Deputy Police Chief David DeMarco state the next day, "he would not call the situation a "hoax." Also, don't presume that SSERT would not have gased his house if the intoxicated Fitch responded and told them that he was "OK" inside. As you say, their agenda was to get him to surrender; but, importantly, it was to be outside of his home because they do not have the right to invade a resident's home. Nonetheless, they did by force, and that is just another reason why initially, the Police had to call it a hostage situation, so they could later justify a force entry! Unfortunately, the only hoax seems to be made against the Babette Court neighbors and the Mayor when the Chief of Police initially called the scenario "a possible hostage scenario" in order to get the SSERT on the scene. Honestly, I don't understand how good reporting allows that fact to be overlooked!
IGNATS April 30, 2011 at 09:42 PM
It got handled without anyone hurt. Yea it costs money, but at the end of the day the Police did what we ask of them. I don't like the idea of command standing around worring about cost vs. our safety.

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