Florida shooting: Patient in wheelchair shoots doctor in neck at hospital, FBI says

Suspect Lawrence Bon, 59, allegedly began firing pistol during psychological examination at veterans facility 

Julia Jacobs,Matt Stevens
Thursday 28 February 2019 09:34
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A doctor was shot in the neck by a patient at West Palm Beach VA Medical Centre in Florida
A doctor was shot in the neck by a patient at West Palm Beach VA Medical Centre in Florida

A doctor was shot in the neck when a patient in a wheelchair opened fire in the emergency room of a veterans hospital in Florida, authorities said.

The suspect, Lawrence Bon, 59, had been at West Palm Beach VA Medical Centre since Wednesday morning and had been “combative” with employees all day, an FBI spokesman said.

Mr Bon began shooting a pistol at about 6.20 pm on Wednesday, while he was undergoing a psychological evaluation, special agent Michael Leverock said.

The injured doctor, whose named was not released, was shot while trying to subdue Mr Bon, who is a double amputee. Another hospital employee was grazed by a bullet, Mr Leverock said. The employees’ injuries were not life-threatening.

Mr Bon spent a very short time in the military in the mid-1970s, Mr Leverock said, and his amputations were unrelated.

The doctor who was shot was taken to another hospital for treatment, said Mary Kay Rutan, a spokeswoman for the medical centre’s network. The facility was secure and would be operational on Thursday, she said.

The FBI took over the investigation of the shooting because it occurred in a federal building, Mr Leverock said. Mr Bon was scheduled to appear in federal court on Thursday.

The West Palm Beach VA Medical Centre, about 75 miles north of Miami on Florida’s eastern coast, is a general medical, psychiatric and surgical facility, according to its website.

The 153-bed facility opened in 1995 and “provides health services to veterans throughout South Florida”, both at the main facility in West Palm Beach and six contractor-operated outpatient clinics, a 2017 report said.

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The facility also operates a 108-bed “community living centre” and a 13-bed “blind rehabilitation service”, according to the report. During the 2017 fiscal year, the facility served about 60,000 veterans, the report said.

The West Palm Beach VA Medical Centre is one of about 170 medical centres and nearly 1,000 clinics run by the department of veterans affairs. Together, they treat about 9 million veteran patients each year.

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