Police say a report of a woman with a gun threatening people Tuesday afternoon at Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital was a hoax.
The false report came in a phone call to the Medina police dispatch center around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, Medina Police Chief Edward R. Kinney told media at a news conference around 4 p.m. after the “all clear” was sounded.
The report triggered a lockdown of the hospital and medical center earlier in the afternoon, and patients were seen being led out around 3 p.m.
Some ran to their cars as police officers armed with assault rifles kept a watchful eye outside the west entrance to the medical center attached to the hospital.
Police cars, some marked and others unmarked, lined every lane of the sprawling hospital complex.
However, there was no suspect, no witnesses, no firearm and no evidence to support the claim that a woman with a gun was threatening people at the medical center.
Kinney said some 150 officers from surrounding departments including the Medina County Sheriff's Office, the Ohio Highway Patrol and even the ATF responded in full tactical gear.
The incident caused fear among employees, patients and families, and disrupted the community.
Officials asked people to avoid the hospital, which is on state Route 18, the main road leading from Akron to Medina.
Police sealed off all entrances to the hospital and forced loved ones to wait.
By 2:30 p.m., Medina police said on a department Facebook page that no shots had been fired.
Kinney said there were two calls to dispatchers. The first was that there was someone with a gun at the medical center.
The second call was that there was an active shooter with hostages inside the medical center.
Kinney would not say whether the caller was male or female.
The incident prompted Medina City Schools and the nearby St. Francis Xavier Catholic School to alter dismissals and bus routes near the hospital where news helicopters swirled overhead.
The Cleveland Clinic around 2 p.m. ordered nonessential workers to go home and canceled any nonemergency appointments at the medical campus.
Meanwhile, staff and patients took shelter wherever they could — from storage rooms to closets to barricaded offices.
Sandie Eckler of Nova was at the medical center with her husband, Alden, for an appointment when news of a possible shooter spread.
The couple, along with a doctor and other staff, hid in a closet for more than an hour or so before police officers found them and escorted them out.
Sandie said the ordeal was terrifying but they never gave up hope that everything would be all right.
“The staff was very calm and helpful,” she said.
They relied on their faith to get through the uncertainty.
“We prayed constantly,” she said. “That’s what got us through 48 years of marriage.”
Alden nodded in agreement.
“Thank God for the Lord.”
Cleveland Clinic President and CEO Tomislav Mihaljevic said in a statement that patient care was never interrupted Tuesday.
The report of a woman with a gun triggered hospital procedure to secure the premises, lock down the hospital and "take care of patients who need services the most," he said.
Mihaljevic said he and other physicians walked through the facility and met with every caregiver.
Police were also stationed in front of the emergency room, which remained open, he said.
The Cleveland Clinic tweeted after 2 p.m.: “Police are on scene at Medina Hospital responding to a potential active shooter situation in the medical office building. Both the hospital and office building are on lockdown. We advise no one travel to the Medina Campus. We will continue to share updates.”
All patients and workers were told to go home, and no one was being permitted on the hospital campus, Cleveland Clinic said in the tweet.
Around the same time, Medina police tweeted on the department’s Facebook page that police had reported to Medina Hospital “regarding a female with a firearm threatening individuals. No shots have been fired. Police have secured the hospital and are searching the facility floor by floor. Please avoid the hospital until police give the all clear. Updates to follow.”
Before giving the all clear, police officers went room by room, clearing the South Medical Building.
Medina Hospital opened in a renovated four-bedroom home in 1944 when Medina was a sleepy town of less than 5,000.
Medina now has a population of more than 27,000 and the facility has since swelled to include a 171-bed hospital, emergency room and six-story attached building of doctor and medical specialist offices.