MEDINA — The 911 caller was calm, yet difficult to understand.
“Can you send some officer at 970 East Washington,” a man told a dispatcher just before 1:30 p.m. Nov. 13.
When a dispatcher asked the man — who was speaking with an accent — what he needed at the medical center attached to Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital, the man initially said an employee was stealing money from a company there.
Then he added there was a woman with a “gun machine,” before correcting that to “machine gun” and later, to “rifle.” He implied the woman — whom he named and described — was holding people hostage.
None of it was true, but the phoned-in threat caused fear inside the medical facility and chaos in the surrounding area as more than 150 law enforcement and first responders rushed to the scene hoping to stave off a mass shooter.
Medina police continue to investigate the bizarre incident and hope to charge anyone involved. They’re working with the FBI to gather phone and computer records, Medina Police Chief Edward R. Kinney said last week.
Investigators believe the telephone call from 911 was likely masked or “spoofed” — using the internet to mask the true caller’s number and origin and replace it with someone else’s phone number and location.
Kinney said the 911 call could have come from anywhere, from Medina, Ohio, to Medina, Saudi Arabia, and beyond.
But the caller did leave behind some clues: All of the allegations he made involved a specific doctors’ office in the medical building.
He repeatedly claimed the alleged trouble was taking place at Suite 2F, which is occupied by the medical practice of Drs. Shobha Khandelwal, Anand V. Khandelwal and Vivek Khandelwal, all board-certified in internal medicine, according to the group’s website.
A message left for the Khandelwals was not returned. Shobha and Anand, who are married, have a longstanding practice in Medina, where they have lived more than three decades.
The 911 caller identified the woman he claimed had a gun as a medical assistant who had worked in the Khandelwal office until about a month earlier.
Kinney did not know why she left or whether she quit or was fired. But on the day of the 911 call saying she was holding hostages in Medina, the woman was in Barberton, either working or at home, Kinney said.
When a dispatcher asked the 911 caller for his phone number, he hesitated and then provided the number to the Khandelwals' office.
Why the caller focused on the Khandelwal practice is not yet clear, Kinney said.
And police hadn't determined the motivation for the call.
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the 911 call, Kinney said police were assessing their response to the unexpected and unwanted drill.
It happened just a week or two after Medina police switched to a new digital radio system used by Medina County.
The radios worked flawlessly for officers who had them, eliminating any possible blind spots where other radios may have lost signal, Kinney said.
But only Medina police — who paid just over $200,000 for the upgraded radios — had them. They were among the first officers in the county to receive them.
When police from adjoining Montville and Medina townships, along with those from the cities of Brunswick and Wadsworth, showed up, they couldn’t communicate.
To work around it, Kinney said teams of officers were assigned in groups to one Medina officer carrying a new digital radio so everyone could hear what was going on.
They also had to organize law enforcement and first responders from around the area who showed up to help without being requested, he said.
When the 911 call came in saying there was a gunwoman at the medical center, an off-duty Medina police officer was already on site working, a tradition that dates back more than 20 years at the hospital, which also has its own police and security, Kinney said.
Kinney was among the next to arrive. He said he was just leaving a meeting at Medina High School, which is little more than a mile away.
What happened next — clearing the medical building and the hospital floor-by-floor — went smoothly, he said.
“Now we’re going to investigate,” Kinney said, “until we make an arrest or we reach a dead end."