NEW YORK — A former employee opened fire inside of one of New York City’s busiest hospitals on Friday afternoon, killing one person and wounding six others before taking his own life, New York police said.
New York Police Department commissioner James O’Neill said during an early evening news conference that police received a 9-1-1 call at 2:55 p.m. about an active shooter wearing a white lab coat and armed with an assault rifle at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital. Responding officers located six victims on the 16th floor – five with serious injuries and another who had been shot in the leg — and another victim, a woman who had been shot and killed, on the 17th floor.
O’Neill said that the shooter then attempted to set himself on fire on the hospital’s 17th floor, prompting the building’s fire alarms and sprinkler systems to activate. Police later found the gunman dead with what they believe to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The Associated Press, citing anonymous police sources, identified the gunman as a family medicine physician who previously worked at the hospital.
Raymond Thomas, 52, said he was visiting a friend on the fourth floor of the building across the street from the hospital. They were listening to music and heard a noise but couldn’t be sure is was gunfire. “All I know is I looked over (out the window) and saw people coming out in a hurry,”he said. A few minutes later, he said, he saw the police precedence and saw people being hurried around by police. “It’s really crazy to see a shooting at a hospital, you know?”
Staff members of the 1000-bed hospital told local media that soon after the shooting began they received a “code silver” alert – meaning there was an active shooter, and they began to instruct patients to hide.
“The cops starting rushing in,” Michael Bias, an employee on the hospital’s ground floor emergency room, told ABC-7 in New York, in a live interview not long after the shooting. “We tried to keep the patients calm… All we heard was the commotion.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio praised police and firefighters who responded to the shooting and hospital staff who helped hide and comfort patients.
“Even in the midst of this horror there were many, many acts of heroism.”
Even hours after the shooting, some family members of hospital employees and patients…