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Wednesday, August 8, 2012 - Page updated at 08:00 a.m.
911 caller describes Ohio hospital shooting, panic
By THOMAS J. SHEERAN
People responding to the sound of what they thought was a problem with an oxygen tank in a patient's Ohio hospital room discovered a man dressed in black with a gun. Then they realized the noise was a shot, a 911 caller told a dispatcher in a recording.
As authorities continued investigating what may have been a mercy killing, the 911 recording was released on Tuesday.
The suspect, John Wise, 66, appeared before an Akron Municipal Court judge via video from jail on an aggravated attempted murder charge. His bond was set at $1 million. He is due back for arraignment Wednesday morning.
The emergency call came from an Akron hospital where police believe Wise calmly walked into the facility and shot his wife in the head. The caller, apparently a nurse, said she had gone to hide in a room down the hall but could hear a commotion in a neurology intensive care unit, with people yelling and running nearby.
"I think I need to go out there. Seriously, I think someone's coding or something," she said before the recording ended. Around the same time, another caller from hospital security confirmed to a dispatcher that a patient had been shot.
Wise appeared perplexed at the attempted murder charge brought against him when he stood before the judge on Tuesday, asking whether his wife was indeed dead.
Hours later, a medical examiner issued a report ruling the woman's death from the gunshot wound a homicide, clearing the way for prosecutors to consider more serious charges in the shooting of Wise's wife of 45 years.
Wise, who lived with his wife, Barbara, in Massillon, is charged with shooting her at her bedside in the ICU unit of Akron General Medical Center on Saturday. She died the next morning.
Wise surrendered to hospital security after the shooting and has cooperated with investigators.
He apparently was confused about the attempted murder charge Tuesday, asking, "Is she not dead?"
Visiting Judge Marvin Shapiro didn't answer his question but said he would soon have an attorney who could. "We're going to get you an attorney who will be able to answer all of your questions for you, sir," Shapiro told him.
Messages were left with Tuesday with Andrea Whitaker, who was listed as Wise's attorney in court records filed after the court appearance. They were not immediately returned.
Police said Barbara Wise had been in critical condition in the ICU for several days, but details of her illness haven't been made public.
Emergency personnel responded to the Wises' home a week before the shooting for a medical call that involved advanced life support, including oxygen and a heart monitor. Hospital and emergency officials have said they can't disclose any information about patients because of privacy rules.
Officials are looking into whether Wise shot his wife in a mercy killing, said Akron police Capt. Dan Zampelli.
Wise entered the hospital through the main entrance and went up to his wife's room without drawing any attention, apparently keeping the handgun concealed, hospital spokesman Jim Gosky said.
Hospital security officers ran from the ground floor's emergency department to the ICU's third floor after an alert sounded that someone had a weapon, Gosky said.
Associated Press writers Kantele Franko in Columbus and John Seewer in Toledo contributed to this report.
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