To police investigators, the double-wide in rural Polk County was the hiding place of a drug trafficker. But to her family, it was merely the longtime home of a 76 year old widow named Helen Pruett.
“All she did was go to church, go to Walmart, go to the beauty shop, and that’s it,” said Machelle Holl, Pruett’s daughter.
Tuesday morning, police dressed in black paramilitary fatigues, armed with weapons and an arrest warrant surrounded Pruett’s home, knocked on the door and demanded to be let in. Helen Pruett’s family says she saw them through the window, was frightened, and didn’t believe they were really police.
“She didn’t know what to do. There was banging on the windows, men saying let me in,” said daughter Diana Merrick.
Pruett opened the door – and police almost instantly realized their warrant had the wrong address.
“She told me she was having chest pains,” said Polk County police chief Kenny Dodd. “I immediately called for an ambulance.” Dodd said Polk County police assisted the DEA-led drug investigation.
Pruett was taken to the cardiac unit of a Rome hospital, where family members say doctors confirmed she’d had a heart attack. Family members were grateful Pruett wasn’t killed — like Kathryn Johnston, the elderly woman in a botched Atlanta police drug raid four years ago.
“She was the first person I thought of,” said Merrick.
Pruett’s daughters have spent the last two days at the hospital, where the Polk County police chief paid a midday visit.
“I feel sorry for the family,” said Dodd.
Pruett’s family wants police to investigate the misinformation that led to the mistaken raid. A DEA spokesman says that the agency is examining that as it continues its investigation.