'Grey's Anatomy' shooting episode airs same day as Hopkins violence

WMAR aired warning to viewers about episode similar to murder-suicide at Baltimore medical building

September 16, 2010|By David Zurawik, The Baltimore Sun

WMAR-TV, Baltimore's ABC affiliate, aired a rerun Thursday night of the medical drama "Grey's Anatomy" that contained graphic violence eerily similar to the real-life events that took place earlier in the day at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The episode, which was last year's season finale of the hospital series, involved a man who becomes angry after his wife dies in surgery and goes on a shooting spree in the hospital while hunting for the doctor who treated her. The last image before the first commercial is a doctor shot in the head by the gunman.

At Hopkins on Thursday, a doctor was shot by a man who became angry about his mother's condition after surgery. The doctor survived the shooting, but the gunman killed himself and his mother.

In the hour before the episode aired — and then again while it was shown at 9 p.m. — WMAR ran a warning at the bottom of the screen telling viewers that the episode contained "events similar" to those "that happened today at Hopkins."

The warning further told viewers that "the story line" in the show "is fictitious and in no way related to today's events." It did caution viewers that the episode contained graphic violence.

After being contacted by The Baltimore Sun and before the episode aired, WMAR General Manager Bill Hooper sent an e-mail saying, "We plan to address this live just before the show starts."

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