DHMC patient fatally shot by relative in hospital

LEBANON — The Lebanon Police Department arrested a suspect following a report at 1:25 p.m. that an active shooter was inside Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) Tuesday.

According to New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, a 70-year-old female patient was fatally shot by a relative in the encounter. Authorities said a person was taken into custody shortly before 3 p.m. while trying to leave the grounds of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.

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No possible motive for the shooting was released.

At around 1:30 p.m., hospital employees were told to evacuate. According to Robert Roth, a psychologist at DHMC, there was no panic as employees evacuated. Employees were shuttled by bus to Lot 20, Colburn Hill, and other areas away from the main hospital campus, though some employees were locked in their offices during the active shooter alert.

Bruce Denis, a Claremont resident who handles information systems and support at the help desk, helped keep track of who exited the building after the hospital issued a silver alert — which signifies the presence of an active shooter — and ordered everyone in the building to evacuate.

“Everyday we all get up and expect it to be a normal day,” Denis said. “For everyone but two people, it was just supposed to be a normal day.”

Denis said that following the alert, employees and patients alike gathered at the predetermined evacuation point, a procedure the staff practices annually, but they were eventually instructed by DHMC security and other responders to move back. Some staff listened to scanners on their phone.

“We bided our time, speculated what was happening,” he said.

In a media briefing, MacDonald and chief legal officer for DHMC John Kacavas gave brief, prepared statements on the incident.

According to MacDonald’s statement, the shooting took place in the Intensive Care Unit. Police were notified at 1:25 p.m. People were told to avoid the area around the hospital, and traffic was stopped on a route leading to the medical center.

“The arrest took place with no incident. The incident is over and there is no threat to the public,” MacDonald said. “This is an ongoing investigation and we expect to provide more information tonight.”

The New Hampshire Department of Homeland Security, the Attorney General’s office, and New Hampshire State Police, in conjunction with the Lebanon Police Department, will be conducting the investigation.

Kacavas thanked the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office, state police, and the Lebanon Police Department for their rapid response and assured patients and their families that the incident would not inhibit care at the hospital.

“I want to assure our patients and families and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock community that we are working very hard to ensure as little interruption in patient care as possible,” Kacavas said. “Dr. Ed Marrens, our chief medical officer, is on the ground assuring that our ED (emergency department) is up and operational, as is our ICU as law enforcement tries to process this crime scene. Our ability to get up and running as fast as we are is due to the efforts of our law enforcement.”

Medics came to the scene to ensure that patients were tended to, bringing wheelchairs, water bottles, wet cloths, and other relief items to ensure that patients were tended to, until they were bused to another facility with more comforts at around 4 p.m.

“I’ve never seen so many cop cars in my life, not in one place,” Denis said. “To my observation, a lot of things went right. There were a lot of responders, they were patrolling the road: everybody participated.”

The hospital reopened for staff at 5:45 p.m., according to a post on the company Facebook page.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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