Yvonne Abraham

Chasing truth after pursuit

By Yvonne Abraham
Globe Columnist / November 11, 2010

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This was going to be a column about how Boston police failed a good citizen. That’s what the story seemed to be, and it was hard not to get steamed about it.

Instead, it’s about adrenaline, the vagaries of memory, and bad luck.

Ian Gold’s Dorchester home was robbed Saturday by a man who then carjacked a wedding limo outside Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta at St. Margaret’s Church on Columbia Road. The carjacking got lots of attention. Gold’s role in that day’s events did not.

As rain fell on Tuesday afternoon, I retraced Gold’s steps with him. We started in his upstairs hallway, where the attorney saw a man darting by after Gold, 38, put his 3-year-old down for a nap. The man turned, threatened him with a hammer, then fled. Gold called 911 before taking off after him.

Gold kept yelling at the guy to drop a bag that had his wife’s jewelry and his iPad inside. He was on the thief as he tried to carjack three cars on Edison Green, right behind him when he jumped over a fence into somebody’s backyard.

The whole time, he was describing the man to the police dispatcher and updating his location.

Gold was by the limo as the thief struggled with the driver. Just then, two police cars passed by, lights flashing, but they overshot the scene, turning down Dorchester Avenue.

By the time they got back to the church, the robber had driven off.

“If they had just taken a U-turn, they could have prevented this,’’ Gold said on Tuesday, still frustrated.

Gold’s cellphone call log says he spent more than seven minutes on the 911 call. Shouldn’t that be enough time for police to get there and catch the guy?

He worried that police didn’t respond faster because they’re less concerned about Dorchester than more affluent neighborhoods. Or maybe because budget cuts have left them stretched too thin.

Well, I listened to the 911 tape yesterday. And I’m happy to report that, in this case, the truth is far less depressing than that.

A few things are clear from those seven minutes and 30 seconds.

First, Gold is brave, and remarkably polite.

“It was a courageous thing for him to continue to pursue that guy even when he saw there was a potential for violence,’’ said Deputy Superintendent John Daley, who is in charge of operations.

And though Gold was clearly stressed, he was remarkably courteous with the dispatcher. He didn’t even swear until the carjacker was getting away.

“Excuse my language,’’ he said immediately.

Second, the police arrived just 3 minutes and 50 seconds after Gold first called 911. His call log read seven minutes because he stayed on the line after police arrived. But as anybody who has been in a scary situation knows, time stretches way out.

Denise Gleason, the operator who took Gold’s call on Saturday, said everybody who calls 911 believes the police are taking too long to arrive. She did, too, the time she had to call.

“I don’t fault them,’’ she said yesterday. “It does feel like an eternity.’’

And according to a recording, the police cars turned down Dot Ave because witnesses on the street were directing them to.

That’s just rotten luck.

When I told Gold what I’d heard on the recordings yesterday, he laughed. He’d remembered it all so much differently.

“To hear it was just four minutes before they arrived, that makes me feel better,’’ he said.

Also, he got a nice call from Daley yesterday, apologizing for his difficulties and inviting him to hear the 911 tape himself. Then the news broke that police arrested the man they believe stole Gold’s things. That cheered Gold. No word on his wife’s ring or his iPad, though.

“My stuff is gone,’’ he said. Still, his faith in the police shouldn’t be.

Yvonne Abraham is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at