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Shots fired at hospital

February 23, 2001

Shots fired at hospital



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI and JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writers


A Washington County Hospital patient was restrained Thursday night after shots were fired in a hospital elevator, according to Hagerstown City Police.

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"The shots didn't hit anybody," Sgt. Steve Bussard said.

A patient, who was trying to leave the hospital against medical advice, was being escorted back to an upper floor by a nurse and a security guard when the shots were fired in the elevator at around 9:20 p.m., police said.

The security guard, whose name was not available, was pushing the elevator button when he saw the patient pull a handgun, said Sgt. Curt Wood at the hospital Thursday night.

The guard told the nurse to drop to the floor, and when she did the guard tried to get the gun from the patient, police said.

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During the struggle the Colt .45-caliber revolver went off four times in the elevator, police said. The guard subdued the patient and get the gun.

"Everybody in the hospital should give him a hug and kiss," Wood said of the guard.

The patient was injured during the scuffle with the guard, police said.

Freddie Lee Harris, 58, of 1609 Bainbridge Ave. in Pensacola, Fla., was being treated in the emergency room for cuts and bruises Thursday night, Wood said.

Bussard, from police headquarters, said the initial call came for shots fired on the seventh floor, but that the patient had walked off the fifth floor.

The fifth floor provides trauma, psychiatric, and other types of care. Authorities could not say what Harris was being treated for.

Wood said Harris, who was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday, was being taken to the seventh floor for a bowel blockage before the incident occurred.

"He evidently was distressed for some reason. He was trying to leave against medical advice," said Raymond Grahe, the hospital's vice president of financial services.

Grahe called the incident "unfortunate."

He said the hospital does not have metal detectors.

Bussard said he did not know where Harris got the gun. Hospital security guards do not carry guns, he said.

Late Thursday, police were not sure whether Harris would remain at the hospital or be taken into police custody.

Police carried away Harris' luggage, including a carry-on bag and a green duffel bag with U.S. stenciled on it.

Wood said four shell casings were found in the elevator. Police said two cartridges remained in the revolver.

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