Wed | Dec 13, 2017

Gunman kills one, hurts six at NYC hospital before killing self

Published:Friday | June 30, 2017 | 6:14 PM
Police help people cross the street outside the Bronx Lebanon Hospital in New York after a gunman opened fire there on Friday

NEW YORK (AP) — A doctor forced from a New York hospital because of sexual harassment accusations returned Friday with an assault rifle hidden under a lab coat and shot seven people, killing one woman in an attack that left several doctors fighting for their lives, authorities said.

The gunman, Dr. Henry Bello, fatally shot himself after trying to set himself on fire at Bronx Lebanon Hospital, they said. He staggered, bleeding, into a hallway where he collapsed and died with the rifle at his side, officials said.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene as gunfire erupted spreading terror throughout the medical facility as employees locked themselves inside rooms and patients feared for their lives.

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"I thought I was going to die," said Renaldo Del Villar, a patient who was in the third-floor emergency room getting treatment for a lower back injury.

Law enforcement officials identified the shooter as the 45-year-old Bello, who was described on the hospital website as a family medicine physician.

Officials said Bello used an AR-15 assault rifle in the attack on the 16th and 17th floors.

Bello was allowed to resign from the hospital in 2015 amid sexual harassment allegations, according to two law enforcement officials.

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The officials didn't know the details of the allegations.

The officials were not authorised to discuss the still-unfolding investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

In unrelated cases, the doctor had been arrested in 2004 on a charge of sexual abuse, according to a police report, after a 23-year-old woman told police Bello grabbed her, lifted her up and carried her off, saying, "You're coming with me." He was arrested again in 2009 on a charge of unlawful surveillance, after two different women reported he was trying to look up their skirts with a mirror.

Ultimately, one female doctor was killed and six others wounded — five seriously, according to Police Commissioner James O'Neill. The patients were treated in the emergency room at Bronx Lebanon.

"This was a horrible situation unfolding in a place that people associated with care and comfort, a situation that came out of nowhere," Mayor Bill de Blasio said, adding that terrorism was not involved in the attack.

Shortly after receiving a 911 call about an active shooter, police officers went floor by floor, their guns drawn, looking for the gunman.

They later learned he was dead inside the building.

De Blasio confirmed that the Bello killed himself.

Bello may have doused himself with an accelerant like gasoline and tried to set himself on fire before shooting himself, officials said.

Sprinklers extinguished the fire.