Hikers on a historic Conemaugh Township trail who called 911 eight times to say they were being shot at were met with indifference, tapes show.

Shots can be heard in the background of the recording as a female caller gasps and whimpers.

A 911 dispatcher says, “An officer is on his way, and there’s nothing else we can do.”

After almost an hour, the East Taylor police officer assigned to respond questions the callers’ description of the trail, and the 911 dispatcher laughs.

The tapes end with the last call from the hikers, saying police never showed up and that they made it out on their own. The were not injured.

On Tuesday, county officials gave The Tribune-Democrat access to the recordings on condition that the tapes would not be recorded and that individual names would not be used. Officials earlier had refused to allow a reporter to listen to the 911 tapes, saying they were part of an internal personnel investigation.

The tapes substantiate the version of events given by the hikers of their Nov. 4 ordeal on the 2.5-mile Staple Bend Tunnel trail.

County officials and rangers from the National Park Service – which owns the trail – are investigating what went wrong and declined comment until the probe is completed.

In the first call, one of the hikers says there is shooting on the trail, and 911 asks what street the caller is on, where the tunnel is and how far back the caller is.

The caller repeatedly mentions the gunfire.

“There’s more people getting down because the shots are coming here. Now there’s more people getting down,” the caller says as more shots are heard.

The dispatcher continues to try to pinpoint a street or borough, while the caller repeats that it is the Staple Bend Tunnel trail.

In a call from a different hiker, shots again are clearly heard, and a 911 dispatcher says an officer will respond.

When a third call comes in, 911 goes through the same geography questions, even though the caller repeats that he is at Staple Bend.

Sounding annoyed, the dispatcher asks, “What township, city or borough are you in?”

In the next call, the man is sighing and the woman moaning as shots are heard.

“Bullets are whizzing over our head,” he says. “Oh God, a lot of bullets.”

The dispatcher asks how many.

Thirty or 40, the caller says.

As the caller pleads for help, the dispatcher says, “We have an officer on call for that area.”

At one point, a 911 dispatcher calls state police, saying separate phone calls reporting shots have been received.

Then a dispatcher calls Conemaugh Township, where Staple Bend Tunnel is located, but that officer says that – if the shots are coming from across the train tracks – it would be East Taylor Township.

State police check in, and a dispatcher assures the trooper that an officer is on the way.

On the first call from 911, East Taylor Township police listen to a caller’s description of the shooting site and a green tower. An officer says, “We’ll go down and check.”

Meanwhile, a hiker calls again, saying, “We’re stuck in a ditch here, and every time we try to get up, the shooting starts again.”

The dispatcher replies: “An officer is on his way. There’s nothing else we can do.”

The next call is desperate.

“What’s going on?” he asks dispatch.

“The information has been given to the police,” the dispatcher replies.

“So we just sit here?” the caller says.

“”Every time we’ve had a call we’ve updated things,” the dispatcher replies.

The 911 center calls East Taylor police again, and this time the officer asks for the spelling of the names of the callers.

In the next exchange with 911, the East Taylor officer dismisses the complaints, saying, “I have no idea what she’s talking about. I just talked to a guy I know who rides his quads there all the time, and there’s no such thing as a green tower.”

The 911 dispatcher laughs.

The final call comes from a hiker.

“(The officer) never showed up,” the hiker says.

County commissioners and 911 officials say the investigation will be completed as soon as possible.

No arrests have been made in the shooting.

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