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Man pleads not guilty in Cape Coral day care shooting; Police response to shooting assessed

By Staff | Mar 18, 2008

The man accused of shooting and killing his estranged wife in a Cape Coral day care center pleaded not guilty Monday to charges brought by the State Attorney’s Office, and officials released a 94-page document assessing police on their response to the shooting.

Robert Harold Dunn pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and child abuse, according to State Attorney’s Office spokesperson Samantha Syoen. Dunn was initially charged with second-degree murder in the death of Christine Dunn, who was fatally shot inside of Bobbie Noonan’s Child Care where she worked.

Officials reported Christine was shot in an interior bathroom, where she hid with children from her class when Dunn entered the building. No children were physically hurt during the shooting. Bobbie Noonan’s Child Care is located at 1217 Cape Coral Parkway W.

The city released a report Monday assessing the response of the Cape Coral Police Department to the scene of the shooting.

The report cites a police response time of 6 minutes, 7 seconds as “less than the CCPD average emergency response time of over seven minutes and significantly less than the national average of almost 10 minutes.”

After-work traffic building along Cape Coral Parkway may have effected the response time for some of the officers, the report states.

The report also addresses concerns that the incident was called a “priority-3” rather than a “priority-1,” which is a higher priority call. The department defends the rating by saying the priority assignment had no effect on the response time.

“In the instant case, this call was routed by the 911 call taker in 45 seconds from the first call being answered, and dispatched by the telecommunicator in 38 seconds after receiving the routing. A total queue time of (one minute 23 seconds). As such, this call was handled by the on-duty personnel as if it had been classified as a priority-1,” the report states.

The priority system is being reviewed, the report notes. Additionally, police in the north Cape were not notified of the call.

“Although this has no bearing with respect to the nearest units to respond, it is still a ‘best practice’ to do so and will be remedied,” the report states.

Officer Moll, a first-responder who shot out the tires of a man’s truck who fled with a child, was deemed “extremely reasonable” considering that Moll believed the child was being kidnapped at the time. The report defines reasonable response as based on knowledge at the time of an action rather than after all the facts are discovered.

“Perhaps a greater concern would have existed if Officer Moll’s perception was correct and he failed to take any action,” the report states.

Within 2 minutes and 16 seconds of entering the day care, police had Dunn in custody. The report states that there is no policy on the time it takes to enter into a situation involving a firearm, and aside from Moll being distracted by the possible abduction of a child, officers had to apply their training to assess how to enter the building without causing further harm to innocent civilians.

The police missed a bathroom with two teachers and four children hiding inside as a result of the area previously being cleared by personnel, who only checked the classroom area by window but did not enter due to the necessity to attend to Christine.

Officers initially canvassed the neighborhood area without success and only later discovered the missing persons in the bathroom when they heard noises coming from within, the report states. An exterior door to the classroom should have been used to enter and search the area.

A “more defined” incident command structure needs to be implemented in future situations, the report states, though “the overall Bobbie Noonan’s (Child) Care scene was managed successfully.”

According to the report, there was some confusion as to the crime scene perimeter as it expanded and the officer guarding remained at the original crime scene entryway, but this was quickly corrected.

“The actions of police staff, the mayor and city manager were instrumental in reuniting parents with their children and offering them a sense of public service at a very difficult time,” the report states regarding citizen interaction.

Officials offered next-day counseling in the police department’s community room.

“Several individuals attended this session and found it helpful,” the report states.

The report includes interior maps of the day care, letters from and to concerned citizens and news articles about the shooting. A letter from the mayor requesting the review be done, as well as other documents, are also included.