Two dead after standoff at Hopkins

Physician also shot, injuries not life-threatening

September 16, 2010|By Justin Fenton and Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun

A man suspected of shooting a Johns Hopkins Hospital doctor has fatally shot himself and his mother, who had been hospitalized, according to Baltimore police.

The shootings ended a four-hour standoff at Hopkins' sprawling East Baltimore campus.

The suspect — whom police did not identify — had barricaded himself on the eighth floor of the hospital's Nelson Building after a doctor was shot during the morning, according to police. The doctor, whose identity has not been released, was shot in the abdomen and was in surgery, but his injuries are not life-threatening.

"The doctor is going to be OK," said Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

According to Vanessa Wasta of Hopkins' Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, the doctor holds a "faculty position" at Hopkins. Citing privacy, she would not provide the doctor's condition.

Reports of the initial shooting brought police, fire and SWAT teams to the hospital, and snipers set up outside the building. Portions of the Nelson Building were placed on lockdown and other sections evacuated, while visitors were escorted out of buildings as far away as two blocks.

Police shut down numerous roads in the area of Broadway, East Monument and North Wolfe streets. South of Monument and Wolfe was sealed off with trucks, cars and tape.

A nurse who said she was on the floor at the time of the first shooting said that the shooter was upset about the medical treatment of his mother. He was threatening to jump out of a window, she said.

"I started running," she said, declining to provide her name. "When you hear gunshots you run."

Ashley Davis said she saw the doctor come into the emergency room. "By the time I saw him, he was on a stretcher and people were all around him."

She said the doctor was conscious and she didn't see any blood.

Hopkins sent out emergency e-mail and text advisories to staff at 11:15 a.m. stating "shooter on Nelson 8." An employee at the Hopkins School of Public Health, which is across Wolfe Street from the complex containing the Nelson building, said that employees were told to stay in their offices.

Across from the building, Xs could be seen on windows on the eighth floor, presumably to note which rooms the suspect is not in. Students were told to stay away from windows.

"It's scary because we know people over there, between students and people who work over there," said Joanna Utoh, 25, a nursing student.

On the streets surrounding the Hopkins complex, police and plainclothes officers and security staff were manning every corner as sirens sounded and a helicopter flew overhead. Officers were moving pedestrians, some with Hopkins badges, on Wolfe and Monument toward Broadway.

Jacqueline Billy, a nurse who works in respiratory care, said she was on the seventh floor when the shooting took place. She got in an elevator, accidentally went up to the eighth floor, and when the elevator doors opened, police with guns drawn ordered her to shut the door.

"I was petrified, the door opened and there are a bunch of guns. You never expect that," she said.

So many police officers responded to the shooting that the department had to call in officers from other districts and detective units to help answer other 911 calls in the Eastern District. One plainclothes officer reported being out in his personal car, and he warned his dispatcher he was patrolling "with no lights, no sirens, no nothing."

As police moved pedestrians still on Monument Street, city officer Brian Flynn was pushing a woman in a wheelchair. Shirley Barnes, 67, resident of senior citizen housing near the campus, said the incident made her miss an appointment for treatment for swollen legs. "I gotta get my legs fixed," she said. "I haven't seen them since Monday. I'll get an infection. They're supposed to take care of this."

Barnes said she hoped to see doctors on Friday at least to get her dressings changed. As she wheeled down the sidewalk and over curbs Flynn, dressed in plainclothes and a bulletproof vest, was also stopping pedestrians heading other way and turning them around.

"I'd love to keep pushing you, but I got to clear off the other side of block," he said.

Cynnell Robertson a hospital employee, expressed shock at the situation.

"This hospital is well secured and it's crazy for this to happen," he said.

Baltimore Sun reporters Meredith Cohn, Erica Green and Frank Roylance contributed to this article.

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