Cops’ slow response to attack angers Lakenheath airman
LAKENHEATH, England — Airman 1st Class Chris Flatau says he is still waiting for an answer as to why the Suffolk Constabulary took 16 hours to respond after he was assaulted by a gang of hooligans at his home six weeks ago.
“I feel there’s a lack of trust now,” said Flatau, an F-15 fighter jet mechanic at RAF Lakenheath. “I feel they (Suffolk authorities) are not holding up their end of the bargain.
“I’ve seen them go door-to-door about someone having a fire in their back yard, but they can’t get back to me after this.”
Suffolk authorities say they have explained the problem and are busy investigating the assault.
The incident began in the early morning hours of Feb. 26 as Flatau was watching television in his living room.
He was startled by a gang of about 10 vandals — all men in their late teens and early 20s — who were damaging the brick wall in front of his rented Lakenheath home. It was the latest in a string of vandalism incidents against the Flataus’ home and vehicle.
The 22-year-old Phoenix native went outside to investigate and a scuffle broke out between him and several of the vandals.
“One of the guys rushed me and hit me in the jaw. I fought off the first two before the third guy came at me with the brick,” he said.
The youths ultimately fled and, when his wife, Senior Airman Jessica Bird-Flatau, returned home, the couple alerted the police.
“The lady on the phone said they were too busy, that they couldn’t make it out and that they would send somebody out the next day,” Flatau said.
“I said ‘I’ve been assaulted with a brick’ and they said ‘We can’t make it out.’”
The couple was stunned.
Flatau said he was angry, and that his wife was even angrier.
Flatau’s wife took him to the emergency room at the 48th Medical Group on RAF Lakenheath, where he received several stitches.
The Suffolk authorities arrived at the Flataus’ home that afternoon and filed a report.
“He (the officer) apologized profusely,” said Bird-Flatau, a pharmacy tech at RAF Lakenheath. “He said they dropped the ball on communication.”
On March 9, another official from the Suffolk Constabulary met with the Flataus, according to the Suffolk Constabulary. Bird-Flatau said the officer apologized and promised an internal probe into the snafu.
Although Flatau said he still has no answers about the delayed response, Suffolk Constabulary spokesman Simon Stevens said the March 9 exchange was meant to explain what went wrong.
“I’m sure they would have addressed that issue,” Stevens said Friday in a telephone interview. “Ensuring we stay in touch with our victims is extremely important to the Suffolk Constabulary.”
Stevens said the agency’s investigation of the incident has produced three suspects.
“Initially, we could have responded quicker, but now we are doing everything we can to track down the people responsible,” Stevens said.
Three suspects sought
Suffolk authorities are seeking three suspects in the vandalism and assault at the home of Airman 1st Class Chris Flatau:
White male about 6 feet tall with short blond, spiked hair; wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and sneakers.White male about 6 feet tall with brown hair and metal frame glasses.No description.There were also about a dozen young men with the three suspects when the assault occurred.
Anyone with information about the attack is urged to contact investigator Daniel Hudson at 01473-613-500.