The girl had run a block from the church to a public phone outside the Fox Chase branch of the Free Library at Rhawn and Jeanes streets.
"He's at St. Cecilia's! At the church!" the girl cried.
After futilely trying to place the church, the irritable call-taker told her, "Listen, listen, if you don't calm down he gets no help. You understand that much?"
"I'm trying," came her plaintive reply.
For two-and-a-half minutes, the sobbing girl struggled against growing anguish and panic to get across to police and fire rescue where Polec was.
She finally heard the welcome words: "OK, we're on the way."
The girl wasn't the only frustrated caller the night of Nov. 11, when carloads of youngsters from the Abington Township area raided Fox Chase seeking revenge for a rumored assault on an Abington girl.
Several youths, armed with bats, ran Polec down outside the church where he had been an altar boy, and clubbed him to death, fracturing his skull in several places.
The first police car arrived at the scene at 10:46 p.m. But the battle had been brewing since about 10 p.m., and many residents wonder if police hadn't responded sooner to the dozen-plus calls from the neighborhood, Polec would still be alive.
The callers ranged from the sweet and polite, to the pleading, to the angry and the combative.
One was a nun from St. Cecilia's.
But even she was unable to get a quick response, despite assurances from many call-takers that help would be sent.
Kids were massing along Oxford Avenue; residents of Ridgeway Street were alarmed by the sudden influx of carloads of boys, many brandishing bats and other weapons.
One caller was hung up on when he became angry at the lack of response.
Another had to spell Rhawn Street - twice.
None of the call-takers seemed to be aware that calls were coming in steadily from residents reporting the same near-riot conditions from the same general area.
The first call at 10:01 a.m. was an apologetic plea from a woman: "I'm sorry to call you, but would you please send a car to the McDonald's . . . ?"
She described a "pack" of noisy kids.
When the first police officer arrived on the scene 45 minutes later, he found the dying Polec.
"Have rescue expedite," the cop reported to the radio room. "This male's in and out of consciousness."
By then, it was too late for Eddie Polec.
Here is a transcript of the 911 calls received that night from Fox Chase:
WOMAN'S VOICE: I'm sorry to call you, but could you please send a car to the McDonald's at the corner of Hasbrook and Oxford?
911: Corner of Hasbrook and where?
CALLER: Oxford. It's in Fox Chase. There are a pack of kids and they're really noisy. They're . . .
911: Inside the McDonald's?
CALLER: In the parking lot.
911: McDonald's parking lot. OK.
CALLER: Thanks so much.
911: You're welcome. Goodbye.
WOMAN'S VOICE: I'm calling from McDonald's Fox Chase on Oxford Avenue. I have a bunch of kids in my parking lot . . . just broke one of my customer's
911: Where's the customer?
CALLER: She's out in the parking lot. She was going through my drive-in and they broke one of her windows.
911: Is she going to wait for the police?
CALLER: How long is it going to be?
911: I have no idea.
CALLER: I'll find out, but I imagine she would . . . Fill out a report.
911: Uh huh.
CALLER: OK, thank you.
WOMAN CALLER: Hi, it's Montgomery County (police radio). We have a report of a disturbance at Borbeck and Oxford.
911: Okay. On the highway?
911: On the highway?
911: Out on the street or inside somewhere?
CALLER: Juveniles throwing rocks at the McDonald's. Yeah, there are about 20 of them.
911: All right, we'll send somebody out there.
MAN'S VOICE: Will you send some police over here to 7979 Rockwell Avenue. About 50 kids are bustin' up cars near Rockwell Auto Body.
911: What are they doing?
CALLER: Bustin' up the cars, windows and everything. 7979 Rockwell Avenue.
911: OK, and they're inside the lot?
911: How many is there?
CALLER: About 50.
911: All rightee.
WOMAN'S VOICE: Hi, this is Oxford Avenue Pizza Hut. They have a gang of at least 50 young kids with bats outside, beating each other.
911: How many have bats?
CALLER: Uh, about 10.
911: What hundred Oxford is this.
CALLER: (Calling to someone) What hundred Oxford Avenue is this? (To the call-taker) 78. There in between our store and McDonald's.
911: In the parking lot?
CALLER: Yeah, in between those parking lots.
CALLER: Thank you.
911: You're welcome.
WOMAN'S VOICE: I don't believe this, it just rang about 10 times. There's a big commotion going on outside our home, like a gang fight.
911: Where is that, Ma'm.
CALLER: Ridgeway Street. 7900 Ridgeway Street.
CALLER: They got clubs out there. (Man's voice in background: It's a gang fight.) There's a kid hurt out there.
911: All right.
CALLER: Did you get that?
911: Yeah, a kid is hurt outside. There's a fight. Right? Is that it?
CALLER: (Getting excited) Well, that's it. Send a police car to . . .
911: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You asked me. I'm asking you. I have the information, you can hang up now.
MAN'S VOICE: Thank you. I'm calling from the Fox Chase section of the city. There seems to be a lot of gang-fighting out in front of my house, 7900 block of Ridgeway Street. It's just above the recreation center. A lot of screaming, yelling kids . . . carrying it looks like clubs of some kind. They're in the middle of the street.
911: (I'll) send someone out.
WOMAN'S VOICE: Hi, I live across the street from the Fox Chase school and the playground and there is a tremendous amount of kids out there like fighting and I'm just afraid something is going to happen.
911: OK, Fox Chase playground. What's the address?
CALLER: It's, well, right now they're at, like, Ridgeway and Rhawn, in front of the school, but they just keep growing. They're talking about a fight.
911: OK, what was the other street you mentioned, Ma'm.
911: Oh, OK. OK, we'll send somebody out.
CALLER: Yeah, hurry up, because I don't know what's happening. A lot of screaming and yelling.
911: OK, Ma'm.
WOMAN'S VOICE: Hi, I'd like to report a disturbance.
CALLER: On Ridgeway Street.
911: What and Ridgeway?
CALLER: 7940 Ridgeway Street. There's about 20 kids outside fighting.
911: We'll send somebody around.
CALLER: All right, thanks a lot.
MAN'S VOICE: Yeah, can you get a couple of cars over here, 7979 Rockwell Avenue? We got like about 50 teen-agers, baseball bats, a gang fight down in the complex here between the Fox Chase playground and the auto body area.
911: 7979 Rockwell?
911: OK, we'll get somebody right over there.
POLICE RADIO: (Car) 203: 7845 Oxford, at the Pizza Hut, McDonald's parking lot . . . Check for several males armed with baseball bats. 7845 Oxford Avenue McDonald's parking lot and Pizza Hut. There's no flash. Use caution.
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: 203 Okay.
CAR 28: We'll swing by that location.
MAN'S VOICE: Yeah, I just want to let you know I live across from the Fox Chase playground.
CALLER: And there's about 25 youths right now that are running around yelling obscenities, yelling about niggers and everything else. They're running through people's yards and all . . . . Don't know if something's going on tonight or not.
911: Somebody will be there, Sir.
MAN'S VOICE: Hey, how you doin? This is . . . I'm in Fox Chase here and we got a near riot and there's no damn police around.
911: Where? Where?
CALLER: On Ridgeway Street, come on.
911: Well, I don't know that.
CALLER: We been callin. Everybody in the damn neighborhood been callin there. I called the district. They told me to call 911. What are we supposed to do here? There's cars, there's a whole damn convoy of cars coming up here. You got a damn riot going on up here.
911: Police will be there.
CALLER: (Sarcastically) Yeah, thanks a lot.
WOMAN'S VOICE: Yes, this is one of the sisters at St. Cecilia's convent on Rhawn Street. There's a bunch of kids out in the parking lot and it looks like they're beating up one kid.
911: 500 Rhawn, Ma'm?
CALLER: 525 Rhawn.
911: We'll send somebody out.
MAN CALLER: 911, we're in Fox Chase on Ridgeway Street (indistinct). . . . beating the hell out of people with baseball bats up here. When are you gonna send somebody?
911: Who's got a bat, Sir?
CALLER: Who got a bat! Some gorilla. What the hell do you mean?
911: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Don't talk to me like that. I asked you a question. Who has the bat?
CALLER: There's a man got a bat.
911: Is he black or white or Hispanic?
CALLER: (Angrily) There's a riot going on up here!
MAN'S VOICE: (Bad connection) Hello.
CALLER: I'm at St. Cecilia's on Rhawn Street.
CALLER: St. Cecilia's on Rhawn Street. There's . . . carloads of kids chasing a kid down in the park . . .
911: Rhawn and what?
CALLER: On Rhawn Street, St. Cecilia's.
911: OK, but that's Rhawn and what. What's the cross street or what hundred block of Rhawn?
CALLER: That's St. Cecilia's. It's a schoolyard . . . carloads of kids just pulled in . . . .
911: Yeah, what hundred block of Rhawn Street is it on, Sir?
CALLER: Near five points.
Indistinct woman's voice: It's a fire house.
911: I can't hear you. There's something wrong with the phone. You say Rhawn and it's by what?
CALLER: I'm trying to find a cross street.
911: Look at one of the buildings and tell me the address on it.
CALLER: Yeah, its on Rhawn and Burholme.
911: Rhawn and what? Look at one of the buildings and tell me the address on it.
CALLER: 500 Rhawn street.
CALLER: Rhawn Street. A paddy wagon just went by.
BREATHLESS WEEPING GIRL'S VOICE: Hello.
911: Yes, police.
CALLER: My friend, my friend's bleeding. He's at St. Cecilia's . . . hospital.
911: Slow down. He needs what at the hospital?
CALLER: I mean, he's . . . he's . . . he needs a hospital. He's bleeding.
911: Where's he at?
CALLER: He's at St. Cecilia's, at the church.
911: He's where?
CALLER: St. Cecilia's.
911: I can't understand you. Give me an address.
CALLER: He's at St. Cecilia's.
911: And where's that at.
CALLER: On Oxford Avenue.
911: Oxford and what
CALLER: I . . . it's like . . . oh, God!
911: Listen, listen, if you don't calm down he gets no help. You understand that much?
CALLER: I'm trying.
911: All right, so you got to tell me. Oxford and where?
CALLER: Oh, god. You know where the Fox Chase School is?
911: No, I don't.
CALLER: OK, it's Oxford Avenue and Verree.
911: Ok, Verree. All right, what happened to him?
CALLER: He got beat with a bat.
911: All right, is the people that beat him, are they still there?
911: Hold on, I'm going to connect you with rescue. You tell them where he is.
(Phone ringing. Girl crying hysterically.)
MAN'S VOICE: Rescue.
CALLER: My friend got beat with a bat. He's at St. Cecilia's Church.
RESCUE: What's your address? What's the address. Where's it at?
CALLER: It's right across the street from (indistinct) school, which is right by Rhawn.
911 OPERATOR: She's calling from 501 Rhawn Street, by the Free Library.
CALLER: Yeah, I'm at the Free Library, but my friend is at St. Cecilia's Church.
911 OPERATOR: She told me it was at Oxford and Verree first. She can't seem to get it together.
RESCUE: Is that where St. Cecilia's is. Oxford and Verree?
CALLER: It's . . . it's . . . Where am I calling to? Where are you at?
911: Don't worry about where we're at. Tell him where you're at. Where you want him to go.
CALLER: Please, like . . . I don't know. Right now I'm at the library, but St. Cecilia's . . .
RESCUE: How far are you away from it.
CALLER: He's at . . . I think he's at Rhawn and Arrott Street.
RESCUE: Rhawn and where?
CALLER: I think it's Arrott Street, but I'm not sure. It's St. Cecilia's Church. He's right by the church.
RESCUE: And what's wrong? What happened?
RESCUE: He got beat with a bat?
(Girl can't answer, crying)
RESCUE: He's right near Rhawn and Arrott?
911: No, that's not a good cross street. She's probably talking about Rhawn and Verree.
CALLER: It's St. Cecilia's Church. He's right at the church.
911: OK, Rhawn and Verree is close to where she's calling from.
RESCUE: OK, we're on the way.
MAN'S VOICE: (unintelligible) a rescue over here to 7th District side right at Rhawn and Ridgeway in front of a church. We got a kid down, looks like he was beat up, could possibly have something to do with that Oxford Avenue thing.
POLICE RADIO: OK, you said Rhawn and Ridgeway?
MAN: Correct, on the 7th District side, start (unintelligible) rescuing, please!
POLICE RADIO: Thank you.
WOMAN'S VOICE: Hi, uh, can you send a car to Fox Chase rec?
911: Where's that?
CALLER: Uh, it's on Rockwell Avenue. There's a bunch of people in cars and they're coming out and beating people up.
CALLER: It's really bad, can you hurry?
CALLER: OK, thanks.
WOMAN'S VOICE: Hi. Yeah, we're having a problem outside of our house here.
911: What's your address?
CALLER: OK, we're . . . it's not at my street. Now it's taking place on Rhawn Street, in the rectories, in the, um, schoolyard.
911: What's the address there?
CALLER: (Voice rising) OK, 525 Rhawn Street.
911: 525 Rhawn, is that R?
CALLER: (Shouting) R-H-A-W-N! We're not kidding! They're beat up! And no one wants to help us!
911: I'm trying to help you, Ma'm. I have to first understand you.
CALLER: Rhawn! R as in Rob, H as in health, A as in apple, W as in water, and N as in need. Does that help?
911: Immensely. Now can you continue? What's the problem there?
CALLER (Second woman's voice): We've been calling for 20 minutes to get the cops up here. No one's come . . .
911: All right, so what, what . . . Ma'm! Ma'm!
CALLER: Do you know the Fox Chase rec?
911: Ma'm, what's going on out there?
CALLER: I've been telling . . .
911: You haven't told me what's going on!
CALLER: We've had, like, I don't know, a group of 50 kids out front, about.
911: And what are the kids doing ma'm?
CALLER: Well, a few have had golf clubs, and then this one little boy just came down and said to us someone's beating him up with a baseball bat.
911: All right, we'll send the police, Ma'm.
CALLER: Pardon me?
911: We will send the police.
CALLER: Send 'em now, not in 10 minutes, but now!
911: We will send the police, Ma'm.
CALLER: Thank you, do you know where it is! It's on . . .
911: You said 525 Rhawn, Ma'm. That's what you said, didn't you?
CALLER: Yes, I thought . . .
911: OK, that's where we're going to send them.
POLICE CAR 203, TO RADIO: Have rescue expedite. This male's in and out of consciousness.