Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Published Wednesday, March 11, 2009 | 7:18 a.m.
Updated Wednesday, March 11, 2009 | 6:38 p.m.
The emergency room at St. Rose Dominican Hospital-Siena Campus on Eastern Avenue in Henderson reopened for patients at about 3 p.m. Wednesday after a day that began in chaos and tragedy.
Police shot and killed a 48-year-old Las Vegas man early Wednesday morning after he threatened them with a gun in the hospital’s emergency department. About 30 patients and staff were evacuated shortly after 1 a.m., when the man walked in, said he had a gun and threatened to commit suicide.
The emergency room at St. Rose was shut down for about 14 hours. Hospital officials released a statement today saying their main priority now is focusing on caring for their patients and returning to normal operations.
“We are proud of our staff for the way they handled themselves in this crisis and we are grateful to the Henderson Police Department for responding quickly and professionally,” the statement said. “This situation remains a police matter and we will continue to work with the Henderson Police as they investigate the incident.”
The statement went on to say that patient and staff safety is always the “top priority” at St. Rose Dominican Hospital and that the hospital had never experienced this type of situation before. The statement also said the hospital will look into additional ways to enhance security as needed.
Henderson Police Department spokesman Keith Paul said the man, who was dressed in a military-style green shirt, walked into the emergency room with his hands in his pockets and told a nurse that he had a gun and wanted to kill himself. A nurse called 911 and four officers arrived within minutes.
Two of the officers encountered the man in the emergency room and ordered him to drop the gun, but he refused, Paul said. The man then pointed the gun at the officers and the officers shot him, Paul said.
The man was immediately attended to by hospital personnel but died at the scene. No one else was injured during the shooting.
The man’s identity has not yet been released by the Clark County Coroner’s Office.
Just before the shooting, at 12:39 a.m., Metro Police said they received a call from the ex-wife of a man who was threatening to kill himself.
The woman, who lives in Washington state, asked police to do a welfare check on him because she was receiving text messages from him threatening to kill himself, said officer Barbara Morgan of Metro Police.
When officers arrived at the house, he was not there, Morgan said. That man is believed to be the man who police later encountered in the St. Rose emergency room.
The emergency room was locked down and patients in the lobby area were evacuated to other parts of the hospital, she said. Ambulances, meanwhile, were diverted to other facilities. Among those who were evacuated from the lobby, the seriously ill ones were later admitted into the ER and treated, she said.
Those with less serious conditions were sent to other hospital emergency rooms.
"Our staff is trained to handle situations like this. Our staff knows what to do," Hospital spokeswoman Sasha Jackowich said.
She said that doctors tried to treat the gunman for his injuries, but he died at the scene.
Jackowich said a chaplain was on site for all staff members and patients, and the hospital is following up with crisis intervention.
Boulder City resident Kelley Carnes was at the hospital at the time with her fiance, Mike Gleason, a cardiology patient. She said the lights came on and there was an announcement made that shots had been fired.
"Everyone stayed calm and checked on everyone," Carnes said. "The staff was incredible. They did a lockdown. Everything seemed so calm."
Carnes said she saw hospital CEO Rod Davis personally pushing wheelchairs and helping people get to their cars after the shooting.
"For the president himself to be escorting people out was awesome," she said.
Julia Corona of Ely was at the hospital staying with her mother, who is a patient. She said she slept through the incident and wasn't even aware that anything had happened.
Paul said detectives are checking to see if any parts of the incident were recorded by surveillance cameras in the hospital.
Reporter Mary Manning contributed to this report.