UK & World News

  • 25 July 2014, 10:39

Hospital Gunfight Between Patient And Doctor

A patient has allegedly opened fire in the psychiatric ward of a Philadelphia-area hospital, killing his case worker and wounding his doctor, who returned fire.

The patient, Richard Plotts, was seriously injured in the gunfight with his psychiatrist, Dr Lee Silverman. Plotts remains in a critical condition.

Dr Silverman suffered a grazed temple during the shooting on Thursday afternoon at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, just southwest of Philadelphia.

The motive remains unclear.

Delaware District Attorney Jack Whelan said Plotts, 49, might have had issues with the doctor over his treatment plan, but it is not known whether that is why Dr Silverman was armed, apparently against hospital policy.

It appeared that the doctor acted in self-defence, according to Mr Whelan.

Yeadon Police Chief Donald Molineux said the death toll could have been worse had Plotts not been stopped.

"Without a doubt, I believe the doctor saved lives," said Mr Molineux.

Plotts walked in for an appointment with the doctor, accompanied by his case worker, Theresa Hunt, 53.

Staff members had heard loud arguing inside Dr Silverman's office.

They opened the door and noticed the patient had a gun pointed at the doctor, so they quietly closed the door and dialled 911, police said.

Minutes later they heard gunshots.

Plotts allegedly drew a gun during a heated argument. At the same time, officials say the doctor pulled his own gun, hitting the patient in the chest three times.

Plotts, severely wounded, emerged from the office, and another doctor and a case worker helped wrestle him to the floor of the hallway and grabbed his weapon, Mr Whelan said.

Ms Hunt was killed at the scene, where two guns were retrieved, officials said.

Local news reports said Plotts has a criminal history and served time for a bank robbery.

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

Authorities said there are no surveillance cameras in the doctor's office or the waiting area outside. They also said the centre had no metal detectors.