News World News

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Doctor shoots ex-colleague dead and injures six others at hospital

Police gathered outside Bronx Lebanon Hospital after reports of a shooting (AP)
Police gathered outside Bronx Lebanon Hospital after reports of a shooting (AP)
Police converge on Bronx Lebanon Hospital after the shooting (AP)

A doctor forced to resign following sexual harassment allegations has shot dead one former colleague and left six other people injured at a hospital in New York.

Dr Henry Bello, 45, is said to have threatened to kill colleagues before returning to the Bronx Lebanon Hospital with an AM-15 assault rifle tucked under his white lab coat before opening fire.

Bello then shot himself, and collapsed and died with the rifle at his side, officials said.

Detectives are trying to piece together what prompted Bello to snap two years after he was forced out, and whether he was hunting for someone in particular when he went to the 16th floor of the building - at his previous department - and started shooting.

Only one of six people wounded remains in a critical condition . The most seriously injured was shot in the liver, surgeons said.

Medical staff at the hospital immediately treated all the patients in its emergency department. The victims largely suffered gunshot wounds to the head, chest and abdomen.

One was a patient and the five others are medical staff at the hospital, officials said. Two are medical students and the remainder are physicians.

One of the physicians underwent extensive surgeries after suffering gunshot injuries to the hand and is expected to fully recover. Another doctor is recovering after being shot in the neck.

Bronx Lebanon Hospital vice president Errol C Schneer said the improvement of the five now listed as stable is a testament to how "heroically" staff responded to save lives.

People described a chaotic scene as gunfire erupted, spreading terror throughout the medical facility as employees locked themselves inside rooms and patients feared for their lives after hearing an announcement warning of someone in the building with a weapon.

"I thought I was going to die," said Renaldo Del Villar, a patient who was in the third-floor emergency room getting treatment for a lower back injury.

Shortly after receiving a 911 call about an active shooter, police went floor by floor, their guns drawn, looking for the gunman. Fifteen minutes later they confirmed he was dead in the building.

Bello may have doused himself with an accelerant and tried to set himself on fire before shooting himself, officials said. Sprinklers extinguished the fire.

New York mayor Bill de Blasio said terrorism was not involved in the attack.

Bello's 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 Dr Lazala an email blaming him for the dismissal.

"We fired him because he was kind of crazy," said Dr Maureen Kwankam, adding: "He promised to come back and kill us then."

The Daily News reported that it received an email purportedly from Bello about two hours before the rampage.

"This hospital terminated my road to a licensure to practice medicine," the email read.

"First, I was told it was because I always kept to myself. Then it was because of an altercation with a nurse."

He also blamed a doctor for blocking his chances at getting a chance to practice medicine.

New York State Education Department records say Bello graduated from Ross University and had a limited permit to practice as an international medical graduate to gain experience in order to be licensed.

The permit was issued on July 1 2014, and expired last year on the same day. Family medicine doctors handle more routine cases, such as coughs and sprained ankles.

Bello also worked as a pharmacy technician at Metropolitan hospital in Manhattan because he was having a hard time getting licensed as a physician.

However, he quit the job in 2012 and filed for unemployment, according to the lawyer who represented him on appeal in 2014, but lost his case.

One former colleague at Metropolitan said he would frequently argue with nurses and bristled at being told what to do, but his attorney in the unemployment action said that is not the man he knew.

"I'm absolutely shocked," attorney David Wim said, adding: "He was such a nice gentleman. He was very humble, very polite, very respectful."

Mr Wim said he even jokingly suggested to his assistant that she date the doctor, who was unmarried.

Bello had a history of aggressive behaviour. He pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment, a misdemeanour, in 2004 after a 23-year-old woman told police Bello grabbed her, lifted her up and carried her off, saying: "You're coming with me."

He was arrested again in 2009 on a charge of unlawful surveillance, after two different women reported he was trying to look up their skirts with a mirror. That case was eventually sealed.

It was not immediately clear if the hospital was aware of his criminal history when he was hired.

AP

Press Association

Editors Choice

Also in World News