Officer Jerry DuFresne thought he had awakened in the middle of a gunbattle Wednesday morning.
He wasn’t alone.
About 5:30 a.m., a booming noise akin to the sound of rapid gunfire reverberated through the sleepy town of Rathdrum.
“I’m telling you - it sounded exactly like the most hellacious gunfight I’ve ever heard,” said DuFresne, a Rathdrum police reserve officer and a Vietnam veteran.
DuFresne grabbed his bulletproof vest, his sidearm and his shotgun and headed out the door while more than 40 people flooded the emergency center with calls.
But DuFresne didn’t find a gunbattle. He found a 1968 Plymouth Fury with a chronic case of engine trouble.
Diane Horn was sound asleep in her Pine Street home when the booming noise jerked her awake at 5:30 a.m. The blasting seemed to last about 20 minutes. She cautiously peered out her windows.
“It was like ‘boom, boom boom.’ I thought somebody had gone crazy,” she said Wednesday afternoon. “Then I thought maybe the cops were having a shootout.”
Brad Borley, who was sleeping in his home on Five Point Road, said he heard between 35 and 40 blasts as the noise echoed off Rathdrum Mountain.
“It freaked me out,” he said. “It sounded like a bunch of guns firing, one after the other.”
DuFresne, a second Rathdrum officer and an Idaho State Police officer roamed the neighborhood, hunting for the source of the shelling.
That’s when DuFresne came upon an elderly man named Leonard Crabtree. The long-time Rathdrum resident was walking down the street and claimed it was his 1968 Plymouth Fury making all the fuss.
“I didn’t believe him so I said, ‘you’ll have to show me,”’ DuFresne said. “I took him to his car and he started it up, and sure enough. It was the most odd backfiring vehicle I had ever heard in my life. I said ‘I believe you, now shut it off.”’
Crabtree had apparently driven the car from the corner of Pine and Stevens streets through the neighborhoods to Crenshaw Street - backfiring all the way.
DuFresne has had a hard time explaining the noise to the concerned citizens who have called the department.
“I’ve had people come in and say ‘I am a combat veteran and that was not a car backfiring,”’ he said.
DuFresne did not cite Crabtree for the noise, but did give him a ride back to his home.
“I told him to please have it towed because it’s scaring the entire neighborhood.”