A doctor who had lost his job at a New York hospital opened fire with an inside the building Friday, killing another physician and wounding six others before taking his own life in a burst of apparent workplace-related violence.
The gunman, wearing a white medical lab coat, stalked two floors of the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, in the New York borough of the Bronx, and tried to set himself on fire before police searching the building found him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot, Police Commissioner James O'Neill said.
One female physician was shot to death, and six other people were wounded, five seriously, including one who was shot in the leg, O'Neill said at a news conference.
Mayor Bill de Blasio characterised the shooting as an "isolated incident" that appeared to be "a workplace-related matter." He said that it was "not an act of terrorism."
NY Mayor Bill de Blasio discusses the hospital shooting
"One doctor is dead, and there are several doctors who are fighting for their lives right now amongst those who are wounded," de Blasio told reporters. "This is a horrific situation unfolding in the middle of a place that people associate with care and comfort."
Neither the mayor nor police immediately identified the suspect or any of the victims. O'Neill said the gunman was a former employee of the 972-bed hospital.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, in an interview with WABC News, identified the gunman as Dr. Henry Bello and said he had been fired by the hospital. Other media reports said Bello was 45 years of age.
Bello was forced to resign as a family medicine doctor amid sexual harassment allegations and that he threatened that he would kill his colleagues, AP reported.
His former co-workers described a man who was aggressive, loud, and threatening.
"All the time he was a problem," said Dr. David Lazala, who trained Bello as a family medicine doctor. When Bello was forced out in 2015, he sent Lazala an email blaming him for the dismissal.
"We fired him because he was kind of crazy," Dr. Maureen Kwankam told the New York Daily News. "He promised to come back and kill us then."
Several witnesses spoke of the panic that spread during the attack.
Garry Trimbie told AFP he got a phone call from his fiancee, a hospital employee, at around 3:15 pm.
"She was crying, she said somebody started shooting and then the employees ran and barricaded themselves in the room," he said.
A pregnant woman who was undergoing a consultation on the 14th floor praised the way staff responded.
"I did as I was told and I'm safe and sound. They told us to go inside a room and hide. We were barricaded inside a room. The hospital staff was on top of everything. They were in control," Tamara told AFP, giving her first name only.
"I learned a long time ago: when you're pregnant, never panic," she added.
"People were running. People were afraid," said Jane Vachara, 50, a clerical associate on the ninth floor, who said she huddled with colleagues in a locker room for about an hour.
Adding to the pandemonium was the gunman's attempt to set himself ablaze, which apparently triggered the hospital's fire alarm system and halted elevator service, hampering efforts by first responders to reach victims and evacuate the building.
One ambulance worker, Robert Maldonado, told WCBS television that he and his partner had to carry a bleeding patient down nine flights of stairs to safety, applying pressure to the man's wound on the way down.
From Nigeria to Caribbean
Bello had received a limited permit to practice as an international medical graduate in order to gain experience so he could be fully licensed, but that permit expired a year ago, the Times reported. It said he also had a pharmacy technician license from California. The Daily News said he had been a pharmacy tech at the hospital before he quit in 2015.
A native of Nigeria, Bello earned a medical degree from Ross University on the Caribbean island nation of Dominica and later worked briefly as a pharmacy technician for Metropolitan Hospital Center in Manhattan in 2012, according to David Wims, a lawyer who represented Bello in an unemployment insurance claim against that hospital.
In a telephone interview, Wims told Reuters Bello was injured on the job at Metropolitan a few months after being hired, then went on leave and never returned. In a decision upheld by the state's appellate court division, Bello ultimately was denied unemployment benefits on grounds he quit without good cause.
Wims said he remembered Bello as "an even-keeled, respectful, humble person" and knew nothing of his history at the Bronx hospital.
Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, located about one mile (1.6 km) north of Yankee Stadium, is the largest voluntary, non-profit health care system serving the South and Central Bronx, as well as one of the city's biggest providers of outpatient services.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2017-06-30