FBI: Gunman fatally shot doctor at Texas veterans' clinic
EL PASO, Texas (AP):
A doctor was fatally shot at a West Texas veterans' clinic in an attack that also left the suspected gunman dead, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said yesterday.
Special Agent Mike Martinez declined to identify the doctor or the gunman who died Tuesday afternoon at the El Paso Veterans Affairs Health Care System clinic at Fort Bliss.
The FBI was questioning hundreds of patients, staffers and others who may have witnessed the shooting. The agency is leading the investigation because the shooting occurred on federal property, Martinez said.
Investigators haven't said whether the gunman killed himself or was killed by someone else. They also have not indicated a motive for the shooting.
"We're trying to expeditiously get through those hundreds of witnesses to find out details about this incident," said Douglas Lindquist, FBI special agent in charge of the El Paso office.
Sutton Smith, a worker at the VA clinic, said that a "code white" was issued over the intercom system indicating an active shooter and ordering people to seek shelter.
Smith said he hid with about a dozen people in a locked room with the lights off for some two hours. Apart from the initial alert and some communication among managers via cellphone, no official updates were provided during the lockdown, he said.
The VA said in a statement that it "is deeply saddened by the tragic situation that has occurred in El Paso, and we are actively working with our partners at Fort Bliss to investigate this matter".
"The safety and continued care of our veterans and the staff will be our focus throughout this situation," the agency said.
The El Paso clinic came under scrutiny last year after a federal audit showed it had some of the nation's longest wait times for veterans trying to see a doctor for the first time. A survey last year of more than 690 veterans living in El Paso County found that they waited an average of more than two months to see a Veterans Affairs mental health professional and even longer to see a physician.