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Doctor hailed a hero after he guns down psychiatric patient who opened fire in hospital ward killing caseworker

hospital

  • Shots rang out at Mercy Fitgerald Hospital in Darby just at 2pm Thursday
  • One female hospital worker is dead, a doctor is injured and the alleged shooter is in critical condition
  • The gunman was reportedly a psychiatric patient at the hospital
  • Two guns were recovered from the scene and reports say the doctor shot the suspect

A Pennsylvania doctor is being hailed a hero today after he seriously injured a patient who went on a shooting spree in his office.

The shooter, identified as Richard Plotts, entered the unnamed psychiatrist's office, located in a suburban hospital in Darby, with a caseworker at around 2p.m. and immediately opened fire, District Attorney Jack Whelan said. 

The doctor was grazed by gunfire from the patient but helped stop him by apparently returning fire with his own weapon. However, sadly not before a female hospital worker was killed, authorities said.

Yeadon Police Chief Donald Molineux said that, 'without a doubt, I believe the doctor saved lives.'

'Without that firearm, this guy (the patient) could have went out in the hallway and just walked down the offices until he ran out of ammunition,' Molineux said.

One of the victims is rushed into an ambulance after a psychiatric patient shot up a Philly-area hospital Thursday One female hospital worker was killed, a doctor grazed by a bullet and the shooter was taken out in critical condition

One of the victims is rushed into an ambulance after a psychiatric patient shot up a Philly-area hospital Thursday One female hospital worker was killed, a doctor grazed by a bullet and the shooter was taken out in critical condition

SWAT: Police gather at the scene of a shooting at the Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby

SWAT: Police gather at the scene of a shooting at the Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby

Witnesses reported hearing yelling before the gunshots began.

Several hours after the shooting, investigators had only limited information on what happened inside the closed office but believe the doctor, a psychiatrist, 'from all accounts, would have acted in self-defense,' Whelan said.

The doctor, who suffered a graze wound to his head, 'faced a situation where his life was in jeopardy,' Whelan said.

The dead caseworker was identified only as a 53-year-old woman who had entered the doctor's office with the patient before the gunfire erupted. Police said they were trying to find relatives to notify.

Two guns were recovered, Whelan said. 

Authorities said the motive for the shooting was unknown.

A hospital worker views police activity after the frightening shooting

A hospital worker views police activity after the frightening shooting

An officer stands guard near where a doctor grazed by gunfire from a patient who had entered his office in a suburban hospital's psychiatric unit stopped him by returning fire with his own gun and injuring him

An officer stands guard near where a doctor grazed by gunfire from a patient who had entered his office in a suburban hospital's psychiatric unit stopped him by returning fire with his own gun and injuring him

Fatal shooting: Several victims were reported after shots were fired at the Darby Borough hospital and at least one victim has died

Fatal shooting: Several victims were reported after shots were fired at the Darby Borough hospital and at least one victim has died

Suspect: Shots broke out around 2pm but by 3pm reports from the scene indicated the suspected shooter was in custody

Suspect: Shots broke out around 2pm but by 3pm reports from the scene indicated the suspected shooter was in custody

The patient, who was critically injured and was taken into custody, was identified as Richard Plotts, an Upper Darby resident in his mid-30s.

The prosecutor said Plotts had been involved in previous incidents with staff, but he did not know their nature.

He also said he did not know if that is why the doctor had a gun or if the doctor would have been required to have a permit.

After the door of the office was closed, staff members heard loud arguing inside, opened the door and noticed the patient had a gun, Whelan said. 

They then closed the door and dialed 911. Gunshots were heard a short time later, just before 2:30 p.m.

After Plotts emerged from the office, another doctor and a caseworker helped wrestle him to the floor of the hallway and grabbed his weapon, Whelan said. 

By that point he had already been severely wounded from several shots, he said.

Terrifying: Around 100 terrified people ran out of the hospital's wellness center as SWAT teams rushed in

Terrifying: Around 100 terrified people ran out of the hospital's wellness center as SWAT teams rushed in

Hospital workers view police activity at the scene of a shooting Thursday at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pennsylvania

Hospital workers view police activity at the scene of a shooting Thursday at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pennsylvania

About 100 people were evacuated. The shooting reportedly occurred on a third floor psych ward

About 100 people were evacuated. The shooting reportedly occurred on a third floor psych ward

Standing ready: A police officer carries his weapon near the scene of a shooting at the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby

Standing ready: A police officer carries his weapon near the scene of a shooting at the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby

'They acted vigilantly. They acted bravely,' Whelan said.

The exchange of gunfire occurred on the third floor of the Wellness Center at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, a 204-bed community teaching hospital just southwest of Philadelphia.

Authorities said there are no surveillance cameras in the doctor's office or the waiting area outside. 

They also said the center had no metal detectors.

'Do you evaluate that now ... in light of this incident to make sure people are safe, especially in what can be a dangerous environment?' Whelan asked.

Patients waiting in the first-floor lobby reported a tense scene when police arrived and ordered everyone out. Most of the patients were elderly.

'I dozed off, and I heard the cop shouting, "Come on, come on, get out!"' said Millicent Russell, 73, of Lansdowne, who was waiting for a 3 p.m. appointment. 

'There were people with walkers and canes and stuff. All these cops were outside running here and there with these guns.'

SWAT teams descended on the building, and both the suspect and the doctor were rushed to University of Pennsylvania hospital.

A gunman opened fire inside the Pennsylvania psychiatric facility, pictured, killing a woman

A gunman opened fire inside the Pennsylvania psychiatric facility, pictured, killing a woman

Swarm: Shots rang out at the Delaware County facility around 2pm and SWAT teams quickly descended on the building
Swarm: Shots rang out at the Delaware County facility around 2pm and SWAT teams quickly descended on the building

Swarm: Shots rang out at the Delaware County facility around 2pm and SWAT teams quickly descended on the building

Shots fired: A gunman killed at least one and injured others at a Pennsylvania hospital outside Philadelphia Thursday afternoon. The 213-bed teaching hospital is part of the Mercy Health System, a large Catholic health care network serving the region

Shots fired: A gunman killed at least one and injured others at a Pennsylvania hospital outside Philadelphia Thursday afternoon. The 213-bed teaching hospital is part of the Mercy Health System, a large Catholic health care network serving the region

The name of the fatally injured woman was not immediately released as authorities sought to inform next of kin.

About 100 people inside the wellness center were evacuated, reports 6abc.com.

According to NBC Philadelphia, the shooting occurred on the third floor psychiatric center when the shooter burst into the ward and opened fire.

A call was put in to 911 to report a doctor had been shot at 2:19pm.

'They told us to sneak out the back door,' Allen Williams, who was at the center checking in his father, told NBC Philly. 'I was hoping everyone was going to get out safe.'

A hospital spokeswoman says the shooting was reported at its wellness center, which is attached to the hospital by a pedestrian bridge.

The 213-bed teaching hospital is part of the Mercy Health System, a large Catholic health care network serving the region.

'The scene is secure. Everyone is safe,' Whelan told a late afternoon news conference. 'It's horrendous. Anytime you have a situation like this is horrendous.'

 

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Comment by evolution on July 26, 2014 at 10:20am

@Trinidougla you’re right when you say that mental health workers should be trained in crisis intervention but, all too commonly in this country to do anything positive it has to be paid for and that is the problem in this country paying for every s***.

Comment by Fred Savory on July 25, 2014 at 1:09pm
Ok, This proves the point, that law abiding citizens, need to have the right to own and carry guns, the criminals, don't follow the law, but a law abiding citizen can enforce the law,smh
Comment by Carl on July 25, 2014 at 11:42am
I doubt the news will cover this...well, maybe Fox. Lol.
Comment by vaughn mitchell on July 25, 2014 at 12:01am

damn

Comment by Mike Smith on July 24, 2014 at 10:38pm

As is the case most times, when good people are armed, bad people can't do so much damage.

Most of the time police are janitors, you call & they clean up after the rampage, if they even respond.

Defend Your Damn Self, what! are you scared to?

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