Two people are wounded and a hospital caseworker is dead after a gunman opened fire at a Pennsylvania hospital Thursday afternoon, authorities said. Police are crediting a psychiatrist, who was armed with his own gun, with saving lives.
The shooting took place in a small office on the campus of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Delaware County. Police allege the suspect, Richard Plotts, was in the office with his 53-year-old caseworker, Theresa Hunt, and psychiatrist, Lee Silverman, for an appointment when the shooting occurred.
Staff members at the hospital told The Philadelphia Inquirer they heard a loud argument in the office prior to shots ringing out.
Police allege Plotts then pulled out a gun and shot Hunt, who was later pronounced dead. Silverman reportedly ducked beneath his desk and retrieved a gun he had hidden there. He then shot Potts three times in the torso and arm.
Plotts ended up in the hallway, where another caseworker and doctor tackled him.
Police at the scene confirmed Plotts was still being treated for his wounds Thursday night and was in critical condition. Silverman suffered a graze wound to the head. He was treated and released.
It is unclear why Silverman had a gun hidden in his office. The hospital has a policy of barring anyone except law enforcement officers from carrying weapons on its campus, according to the New York Daily News.
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan confirmed reports that staff members had heard arguing before the gunfire. He said one concerned employee who heard the shouts “actually opened the door, saw him [Plotts] pointing a gun at the doctor,” before quietly closing the door and dialing 911.
Whelan said Silverman “from all accounts, would have acted in self-defense,” and “faced a situation where his life was in jeopardy.”
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.
It is not clear if Plotts had a criminal record or why he was visiting a hospital psychiatrist with a caseworker.
A statement from Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital called the shooting "a tragic event for our hospital and for our community.”
Photo Source: Facebook: Mercy Health System