Tucson 911 operator commended for role in catching sex offender

Posted: Updated:

A Tucson 911 operator is being commended for her quick action in helping police locate and arrest a sex offender. The operator did it without having anyone to talk to.

Meet Monica Sheldon, "I have always been in a position to help people. I used to be a sign language interrupter. And i always knew my calling to be of help in some sort."

She loves to help and on may 13th last year, something she helped do, helped change her life, forever.  "The call came in as an open line. I thought it was a domestic violence call, and I ended up hearing a little bit more that indicated that it may have been a sexual assault of some sort."

Sheldon is a 911 operator for the Tucson police department. On that day in may, she heard a woman being assaulted over the phone. Her training an instinct kicked in, "My next thought was to get the victim help and to get the victim help immediately and i used my resources to help me locate her as fast as i could."

The call came in from the victim's cell phone. Within minutes, Sheldon was able to get the police to the woman's location and arrest Gerardo Lopez.

"I had to take time off the floor, because it was.... It was a pretty intense call."

So intense that more than a year later, she still thinks about that call-- the day she helped put a dangerous man behind bars.

"It makes me very happy that we were actually able to catch a suspect in the act and put him away, so he will never be able to hurt anybody like this ever again."

Lopez was sentenced to 37-years in prison. He faces three counts of sexual assault and one count of kidnapping. The woman he assaulted was treated for her injuries.