VA Doctor Allegedly Shot, Wounded by Army Vet at Florida Center

The West Palm Beach VA Medical Center in Riviera Beach, Florida. VA image
The West Palm Beach VA Medical Center in Riviera Beach, Florida. VA image

A double amputee in a wheelchair, believed to be an Army veteran, allegedly shot and wounded a doctor Wednesday night and fired at others at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center in Riviera Beach, Florida, the FBI said.

The doctor, who was wounded in the neck, then subdued the alleged shooter, the FBI said. The doctor was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, where he reportedly was treated and released.

An FBI spokesman told Florida news outlets that others in the medical center came under fire, and at least one VA employee was grazed by a bullet.

Citing the FBI, the Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that the alleged shooter was identified as 59-year-old Larry Bon, who is believed to have served in the Army.

In a statement, the AMVETS veterans service organization expressed hope that the doctor will make a full recovery and stressed the importance that "the veteran's reasons for his actions are uncovered immediately."

"The reasoning behind why this veteran committed this heinous act is vital to preventing events like this from happening again," AMVETS staff said.

The Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that the alleged shooter entered the medical center at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. He was described as being "combative" throughout the day.

He was being taken for a psychiatric examination at about 6:20 p.m., the Sun-Sentinel reported, when he allegedly pulled a handgun that may have been hidden beneath his wheelchair and began firing in the VA center's emergency room.

Outside the hospital Wednesday night, according to the Sun-Sentinel report, FBI Special Agent Justin Fleck told reporters, "In between shots, a doctor saw an opportunity to jump on the subject and disarmed him. And while doing that, sustained a gunshot wound to his neck -- so pretty heroic."

In a statement, Donna Katen-Bahensky, director of the medical center, said, "An incident has occurred this evening at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center. There is no danger to patients or staff at this time, and the area has been secured. We are working with local law enforcement, and the investigation remains ongoing."

The alleged shooter is in custody, but there is no immediate word on whether charges have been filed.

The 153-bed West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, about 75 miles north of Miami on Florida's east coast, serves about 60,000 patients annually at the medical center itself and its outpatient clinics, according to its website.

A statement Thursday from Mary Kay Rutan, a medical center spokeswoman, said that the wounded doctor "has been released from the hospital and is doing well. We thank him for his efforts to subdue the suspect."

Rutan credited security procedures and training for preventing the incident from escalating.

"The West Palm Beach VA medical center continuously conducts safety training and exercises to help ensure appropriate responses to active threat situations, and that training was put to great use yesterday," she said in the statement. "Security measures at the West Palm Beach VAMC are consistent with health care industry standards."

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

 

Show Full Article