Police to review Hopkins shooting

Inquiry launched to determine whether signs were missed that man was danger

  • Cobin Burrell, who works in environmental services at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said he had to clean blood in the room where a man shot his mother and then himself.
Cobin Burrell, who works in environmental services at Johns… (Kim Hairston, Baltimore…)
September 17, 2010|By Peter Hermann, Justin Fenton and Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore police began an evaluation Friday of the shooting at Johns Hopkins Hospital to determine whether police or hospital employees missed signals that might have prevented a man from wounding a doctor and then killing his mother and himself.

"Was there a clue we could have picked up?" Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III asked. "It's important that we go back and critique this for the safety of all Baltimoreans."

Johns Hopkins officials, meanwhile, said they had "full confidence" in the hospital security staff but would review and assess security procedures to determine whether they can be improved, including taking a new look at the use of metal detectors.

Paul Warren Pardus of Arlington, Va., was with his elderly mother, Jean Davis, Thursday morning at the main tower of the sprawling hospital when he became overwhelmed by news of her condition. He shot the doctor, surgeon David B. Cohen, then killed his mother and himself, according to police. The bodies of Pardus and Davis were discovered after a three-hour standoff.

Several Hopkins personnel, some who worked on the eighth floor of the Nelson building, said that Pardus blamed Cohen for paralyzing his mother during surgery. Cohen was reported to be in fair condition Friday.

Few additional details have emerged about Pardus. Relatives and neighbors described him as a quiet man who cared for his ailing mother but mostly kept to himself. Pardus' brother, 59-year-old Alvin Gibson of Remington, Va., told the Associated Press that his dedication to their mother likely led him to act as he did Thursday.

"I guess because he thought my mom was suffering because the surgery wasn't successful and she probably wouldn't be able to walk again," Gibson said. "She was a dear, sweet lady. She just wanted to walk around like she did when she was younger."

John Clark, an employee of Capitol Building Supply, said he worked for a few years with Pardus, who drove a truck transporting construction material. He said Pardus was a "good worker, who didn't really say much."

"He didn't let us know what was going on with his life, but he was always on time, showed up when he needed to show up, and made sure the job was done right," Clark said.

At the time of the shooting, Pardus was working for MetroAccess, which provides rides for disabled passengers in the Washington region. The company did not return phone calls but told other news outlets that Pardus had been on leave since June.

Records show that in April 2006, Pardus renewed a permit to carry a handgun in Virginia, though state police officials say the permit was not valid in Maryland. In the application, he wrote in neat handwriting that he was born in Warrenton, Va., and checked "no" on all the questions.

Bealefeld said he wants to know whether Pardus always carried his small .38-caliber Kel-Tec handgun — so small, the chief said, it could be "concealed in the palm of your hand" — when he visited his ailing mother at the hospital. Bealefeld said the FBI assisted with a background check of Pardus, and authorities determined that he had purchased the handgun about two years ago.

Bealefeld said the first responding officers had no idea that Pardus and his mother were already dead when they arrived and believed it might have been a hostage situation. The commissioner also said the police had to assume that the shooter had gotten out "and was at large in the Nelson building or he had made his escape into the general area. We were working through all those contingencies."

Police received word of the shooting from at least six people who called 911.

"I was standing right there and a physician went down," one woman told a dispatcher, according to tapes of the emergency calls released by police.

"So you're saying he was shot?" the dispatcher asked.

"Yes, I believe so. I heard the shot as I was walking. He went down on the ground screaming. Then everyone said, 'Lock the doors.'"

Another employee on the floor said it was unclear whether the shooter was inside his mother's room or not. He appeared to be familiar with Pardus, describing him as a short black man with a "bush" haircut and identifying his mother by her last name.

"He may still be on the floor," the caller told a dispatcher. "If he's not on the floor, he's still in the hospital."

Bealefeld said officers have replayed video taken from cameras before the shooting but haven't seen anything new.

The commissioner said that perhaps relatives or doctors at Hopkins may have known something, or witnessed unusual behavior that could have prompted authorities or security staff to more closely scrutinize Pardus.

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