A Wellington man called North Ridgeville police about 11:35 a.m. Feb. 3, reporting a shooting in the parking lot of the Marc’s store, 34800 Center Ridge Road, according to police.
The information was false and an example of “swatting,” said North Ridgeville Police Chief Michael Freeman, or calling police to get a SWAT team to respond to a fake incident.
The 911 call detailed that a man had been shot and was lying in the parking lot. The caller, later identified as Steve Bughman, 33, told police two black men had fled the scene in a white van and were headed north on Jaycox Road. He changed his story to state three, not two, black men left the scene with AK-47-style rifles and bulletproof vests. He hung up as police attempted to obtain further information.
A report states the entire on-duty police department responded but found nothing relating to the complaint. Police dispatch then called back the caller, who stated he had made a mistake and the shooting had occurred in the parking lot of the Giant Eagle, 34325 Center Ridge.
Police arriving at the supermarket again found no evidence of any shooting.
Dispatchers contacted the caller, believed to be Bughman, but who reportedly gave his name as Mark Stephens. Two more attempts were made to contact the caller, but those calls went directly to voicemail.
Police believe Bughman made the calls to divert attention from his location, Freeman said. The Lorain County Sheriff’s Office was seeking Bughman in connection with burglary and heroin possession charges and there was a warrant for his arrest.
Police conducted a brief investigation, tracing the cell phone they believe was the source of the calls to the department. Officials arrested Bughman on Fourth Street in Elyria. Reports do not mention the time of his arrest.
Freeman said the charges against the suspect depended upon how much the two calls cost North Ridgeville police to investigate. Four North Ridgeville detectives accumulated 11 hours of overtime, costing the city $571. Bughman is charged with two counts of making false alarms, each a first-degree misdemeanor. Police turned him over to the Lorain County Jail on the warrant issued by Lorain County Common Pleas Court. He was still in jail as of Thursday, according to the county jail website.
Wellington resident Rachael McKee, 38, also was involved in the incident, according to police. Officials released no further details. She was not charged and was later driven by officers to a local hotel.
Bughman has a lengthy record, having been in the Common Pleas Court answering to criminal charges on eight occasions. He has an active case in Elyria Municipal Court for charges including burglary, theft and obstructing official business. A continued arraignment in that case is set for March 12 before Judge James Miraldi.
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