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911 call released in Craigslist ambush in Battle Creek

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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Police released the 911 call of a man and his father after shooting two people during an attack in Battle Creek just moments before the phone call.

The recording is of Jon Vanderwiel, 42, calling 911 after he and his father had gone to Battle Creek to check out a 1972 Chevelle they had seen advertised on Craigslist. The ad turned out to be a set-up: three men assaulted the Vanderwiels, and the son fired two rounds, hitting two of three men who jumped them.

Det. Sgt. Jim Martens told FOX 17 that the Vanderwiels said nothing seemed strange to them about the ad. Tuesday, they emailed back-and-forth with whomever was posing as a widow selling her late husband’s 1972 Chevelle on Craigslist. A phony grandmother emailed that her grandson would be meeting them for her.

Martens said the Vanderwiels buy and rebuild classic Chevelles, and told police you have to act fast, because these cars get bought quickly. When they drove to purchase the car for between $7,000 and $8,000, the Vanderwiels explained how they were attacked in a frantic 911 call.

Driving away from what turned out to be an abandoned home in Battle Creek, Jon Vanderwiel  called 911 on his way to a local McDonald's. He told a dispatcher he was “bleeding like crazy,” and shot two men in self-defense. Vanderwiel and his father were attacked minutes before.

“I’m driving, oh my head hurts," Vanderwiel told the dispatcher. "I got mace in the eyes and whacked in the head and I’m bleeding all over the damn place.”

When the dispatcher asked if he was at 910 Linwood, Vanderwiel said, "No, that’s where I got abducted. I’m at a McDonald’s parking lot right now.”

Vanderwiel has his concealed pistol’s license, and told the dispatcher he had two weapons on him. Then his father, Bob Vanderwiel, told the dispatcher how they were set-up.

“They said the car was on the side of the garage, we walked around there and I was jumped and knocked on the ground, and my son was hit," Bob Vanderwiel said.

You can hear the entirety of the call below.  Warning - there is strong language used:

The Vanderwiels told the cops the three men lured them apart and attacked. Other than that, Martens said they saw nothing fishy about the Craigslist ad or emailing the seller.

“The [phony Craigslist] lady said that the grandson was going to represent her at the selling of the vehicle," Martens said. "So even if there was a call made, and the buyers heard a younger voice, that may not have tipped them off.”

FOX 17 reached out to the Vanderwiels several times and has not been able to talk with them, but their friend posted to FOX 17’s Facebeook and said, “they were both shaken up but doing well.”

As for the attackers, the two men shot are in custody. With a search warrant, Martens said officers arrested a third man on drug charges who was inside one of the suspect’s homes. Police are talking with this man as a person of interest, but said he is not a suspect in this particular case.

Police are still looking for a third man who they believe was at the scene of the Craigslist deal Tuesday night.

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