Ray Villeda

‘Why? Why? Why?’: Witnesses Describe Gunshots, Screaming and Bloody Doctors During Hospital Shooting

"People were screaming, crying and running around. It was very chaotic," one EMT said.

What to Know

  • A gunman shot seven people inside Bronx Lebanon Hospital, one of them fatally; the killed victim is a female doctor, sources say
  • The gunman has been identified as Dr. Henry Michael Bello, a former doctor at the hospital who resigned in 2015
  • People in the hospital described panic and terror as they either fled or barricaded themselves in rooms in the hospital

Hospital employees and patients described a chaotic scene in the halls of Bronx Lebanon Hospital on Friday afternoon as doctors and patients rushed to seek shelter amid screaming and gunshots.

What started as an announcement about an active shooter over the intercom, quickly spilled into the hallways of the hospital, as people carried bloody doctors to lower floors and police searched for the suspect, who authorities described as a former employee wearing a white doctor's coat and carrying a rifle. 

One EMT, Rafael Shimunov, said it was just another day at the hospital, when a “code silver” was announced over the PA system. The code means a weapons or hostage situation is taking place.

Shimunov said he was on the ninth floor to pick up a patient when the announcement was made. At some point, a doctor who had been shot on one of the upper floors was carried down to the ninth floor. Shimunov said he had been shot in the stomach.

“We assisted, we stabilized him, and we carried him all the way down to the ER,” Shimunov said. 

He described the scene as, “crazy, a lot of people screaming and yelling.” 

Eufredo Ramirez, a patient visiting the hospital Friday, said he saw a security guard trying to help a doctor who'd been shot.

“The security, he go up to the guy, the doctor, ‘go to the emergency room,’” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said the doctor was covered in blood and crying as he grabbed his chest.

“The doctor, too much blood,” Ramirez said. “He cried, ‘Why? Why? Why?’”

Ramirez described the injured doctor as being in his late 20s or early 30s. It’s unclear if he's the same doctor who was eventually helped down to the emergency room by the EMT, Rafael Shimunov.

Authorities said Dr. Henry Michael Bello, a 45-year-old family medicine doctor formerly employed at the hospital, shot people on the 16th and 17th floors before attempting to set himself on fire. He then shot and killed himself on the 17th floor. One female doctor was killed and six other people were injured, five of them critically. 

As the shooting unfolded, nurses were told by police that they had to get out immediately. Many were hesitant to leave without their patients, some of whom weren't able to walk on their own.

One nurse who was on the ninth floor described smelling smoke. She said she and other nurses thought it was a fire until the code silver was announced. 

"We just went on the floor, everybody started crying, praying. It was just crazy," she said.  

Photos show nurses, employees and others walking down a narrow stairwell in the building as heavily armed police help escort them out. An OB-GYN medical student told News 4 it felt like forever walking down the stairwell. "It was surreal," he said. 

Francisco Bodon, a patient at the hospital, told NBC New York sister station Telemundo 47 that he was in a room on the 10th floor when three gunshots rang out and chaos erupted.

“There may have been more than three [shots], but people were screaming, crying and running around. It was very chaotic,” Bodon said.

He said three nurses came into the room he is sharing with another patient and locked themselves in the bathroom. Bodon locked the door to the room, noting the other patient had some sort of a spine injury and was unable to get up from his bed.

A pregnant woman who was in the hospital's pediatrics unit said panic erupted when she and her fiancé learned there was a shooter in the hospital.


What do you do when you hospital has shooter in it

A post shared by @herrydrk on Jun 30, 2017 at 12:31pm PDT

"They said somebody's in there with a rifle shooting people," said the five-months pregnant woman, who gave her name as Maya. "Everybody's panicking, everybody's scared."

"It was just a panicky rush and everybody was just getting down, and we just hear shots," said her fiancé. "After the shots, everybody's just getting down. We just tried to run to the bathroom and close the door in the bathroom."

Maya said they were eventually led out of the hospital as they followed a group of nurses. It took them about an hour to get out.

Another patient, Gerald Perez, was waiting in the emergency room to be treated for a heat condition caused by his epilepsy when commotion broke out.

"The security guards, they started running all over the place, they were getting on the phone," he said. "They wanted to lock down everything, and all that. I sneaked out."

"All I heard was a gun, and I was like, 'wow,'" said Perez. "I wasn’t trying to stay there to learn anymore [...] the security guard was trying to lock everybody in.”

Garry Trimble said he was at home sleeping when his wife, Denise Brown, called him around 3 p.m. 

“She said she was scared. She said somebody’s in the hospital shooting somebody, so they ran into a room and they barricaded themselves,” Trimble said. 

Trimble said his wife was still locked in an office at 4:30 p.m., about an hour and a half after the shooting started. 

"I could hear in her voice she was shaking and about to cry," he said. 

A daughter whose mother works at the hospital told News 4 that her mother said in a text message that she witnessed a doctor being shot.

The daughter said she hasn't heard from her mother since then and that she has been calling and texting her.

"The last thing that she texted me is that a doctor got shot in front of her and that she had blood on her hands," said the daughter, who did not want to give her name. "I'm worried about her. This is not safe. There should be more security.”

A man named Eddie told News 4 that he has been working at the hospital for 15 years. He said he had “always felt safe” until Friday, when the code silver came over the PA system and he was escorted to a room with other employees and patients.

“I mean, I’ll come back to work thinking is this incident going to happen again? I never thought it would happen here in a hospital,” he said.

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