Thursday 17 August 2017

Tragic doctor shot in gun rampage was covering colleague's shift as favour

Dr Tracy Sin-Yee Tam (32), who was killed in the shooting
Dr Tracy Sin-Yee Tam (32), who was killed in the shooting

Colleen Long

The female doctor shot dead in a New York hospital by a disgruntled medic in a gun rampage had been covering someone else's shift and should not have been there on the day.

Dr Henry Bello sent his former colleagues diving for cover at Bronx Lebanon Hospital while he repeatedly opened fire at the weekend, killing one and injuring six other people, including a patient.

The new details of Bello's rampage emerged along with an email rant against colleagues he blamed for forcing him to resign from the hospital amid sexual harassment allegations two years earlier. The email was sent to the 'New York Daily News' just two hours before the shooting on Friday afternoon - Bello killed himself after the rampage.

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

Bello had warned his former colleagues when he was forced out in 2015 that he would return someday to kill them.

Bello had warned his former colleagues when he was forced out in 2015 that he would return someday to kill them
Bello had warned his former colleagues when he was forced out in 2015 that he would return someday to kill them

Bello arrived at the hospital with the assault rifle hidden under his lab coat and asked for a specific doctor whom he blamed for his having to resign, but the physician wasn't there at the time.

It was not clear if Bello knew Dr Tracy Sin-Yee Tam (32), who was killed in the shooting on the 16th and 17th floors of the hospital and was, like him, a family medicine doctor. Hospital officials said that Dr Tam normally worked in one of the hospital's satellite clinics and was covering a shift in the main hospital as a favour to someone else.

"It makes you think that anything can happen to anybody," said Dr Tam's neighbour, Alena Khaim (23), who saw the medic's sister outside her home overcome with grief, shaking and unable to walk.

"She was such a sweet girl. You would never think something like that would happen, but it happened."

Judy Beckles-Ross (46) said she's not surprised Dr Tam volunteered to cover the shift.

"She never said no," said Ms Beckles-Ross, a friend from medical school who knew her for 11 years. "She had a good heart. Anybody that needed help, she would help them."

The six others who were injured - a patient, two medical students and three doctors - largely suffered gunshot wounds to the head, chest and abdomen. One doctor remained in critical condition and the rest were stable.

Authorities said Bello set off a fire alarm when he attempted to set himself ablaze. But the flames were extinguished by sprinklers. Hospital vice-president Errol Schneer said: "Many of our staff risked their own lives to save patients."

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 Dr Lazala an email blaming him for the dismissal.

Irish Independent

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